BLOOMINGTON — When Columbus North’s baseball team gets locked in at the plate, it can be a beautiful thing to watch.
Unless, of course, you’re in the opposing dugout. Shelbyville certainly didn’t enjoy the late show Wednesday night.
Brice McDaniel and Korry Drum bookended a big offensive night with home runs in the first and seventh innings, and Collin Lollar struck out 12 batters in five innings as North hammered the Golden Bears 12-1 in the opening round of the Bloomington South Sectional at Bloomington North.
“We came out with a good approach, and we were swinging the bat tonight,” Lollar said.
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The Bull Dogs, who pounded out 13 hits, will face Bloomington South, who won 5-3 against rival Bloomington North, in Friday’s first semifinal game. Columbus East plays against East Central in the nightcap.
Tyler Finke, back in the lineup for the first time after fracturing his skull in a collision three weeks ago, led off the game with a base hit to help set the tone.
Shelbyville starter John Lux appeared to be on his way out of trouble when he struck out Canaan Baum and Finke was stealing second for the second out. But a routine pop fly to right off the bat of Cooper Trinkle was misjudged, falling in for a single, and McDaniel took full advantage of the opportunity, ripping a line drive over the right-field wall for a two-run homer.
The Bull Dogs added three more runs in the top of the third. Canaan Baum drew a two-out walk, and Trinkle and McDaniel followed with consecutive singles to make it 3-0. Both scored on a base hit by Lollar, stretching the lead to five.
Lollar got into a jam in the bottom of the fourth when Shelbyville loaded the bases against him with nobody out. The senior hurler lost his shutout bid when he walked in a run, but the Golden Bears were unable to do further damage.
North, on the other hand, did plenty of damage in the late innings.
Wade Rankin led off the sixth with a single, and a pair of Shelbyville errors enabled the Bull Dogs to load the bases. Drum knocked in one run with a sacrifice bunt, and Baum added a two-run double to make it 8-1.
In the seventh, Nolan Wetherald knocked in a run with a base hit and Drum followed with a three-run homer to left.
That was more than enough run support for Lollar, who gave up just two hits and two walks. Logan Jones pitched two scoreless frames to finish it for the Bull Dogs.
“It’s always good when we have the top of our lineup hitting,” McDaniel said. “One through five, we smoked the ball, and then everybody else hit the ball really well. It’s easy to play well and play happy when everybody’s hitting the ball really well.”