NORTH VERNON — Monday’s opening-round Hoosier Hills Conference Tournament matchup became a pitcher’s duel early on between Jennings County’s Garrett Marsh and Columbus East’s Jon Crawford.
Both teams found it tough to put runs on the board after combining for 21 runs in an earlier matchup.
As the game wore on, the Olympians slowly came alive. They collected nine hits and in the top of the seventh inning, Charlie Burton capped off the game with a two-run homer to left field to send East home with a 6-0 victory.
The Olympians (12-5) move on to face Bedford North Lawrence, which won 4-1 against Madison, in the semifinals Wednesday at Bedford. The Panthers (7-10) play at Madison in the consolation bracket on Wednesday.
Jon Crawford was phenomenal on the bump, pitching six innings and striking out nine Jennings batters. Julian Greenwell capped it off with three strikeouts in the bottom of the seventh for the combined three-hit shutout.
“I was locating curveballs and fastballs, and everything was working for me,” Crawford said. “The defense made plays for me and it was clicking today.”
The first run of the game came in the top of the fourth. Harry Crider led off with a single and later scored off of an error by the Panthers.
With one out in the top of the fifth, Luke Hostetler singled. Crawford smacked a double, and Hostetler tried going home, but was thrown out at the plate. Drew Hasson stepped to the plate and hit a ball that bounced off the fence. Hasson was rounding second as Crawford was heading home, but Crawford scored just in time before Hasson was called out on the tag at second to give East a 2-0 lead.
The Olympians picked up two more runs in the sixth, leading to Burton’s two-run blast in the seventh.
“After we got some hits going, we always turn up and start hitting the ball well,” Burton said. “We are hitting well, and defensively, we are getting better.”
East coach Jon Gratz liked how his team finished after the slow start to the game.
“Their pitcher kind of had us off balance, and Jon pitched a heck of a game for us,” Gratz said. “We got some big hits late, and I was pleased with that.”
Marsh had two strikeouts in the loss for the Panthers.