Friday’s showers rendered North Central’s baseball field unplayable Saturday, so instead of hosting Columbus North and Decatur Central in the Indy Invitational, the Panthers came to Columbus for a doubleheader.
The teams split their final regular-season games heading into the postseason. The Bull Dogs took the opener 3-2, and North Central came back with a 6-3 victory in the second game.
The three runs in each game marked an improvement for Columbus North, which had been shut out in three of its previous five outings.
“We still have some gaps in our lineup that we have to get production out of,” North coach Ben McDaniel said. “We have some things to clean up on the mound. But overall, we competed for 14 innings today, and I don’t know if I can ask for much more than that.”
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The Bull Dogs jumped out to a 2-0 lead after one inning of the opener. Tyler Finke led off with a double and scored on a single by Wade Rankin. Cooper Trinkle followed with a single, and Kevin Thompson lifted a sacrifice fly to score Rankin.
The Panthers scored single runs in the fourth and fifth to tie the game. It stayed that way until the bottom of the seventh.
Trinkle led off the inning with a single, his fourth hit of the game, and went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Thompson. Nolan Wetherald then reached on an infield single, sending Trinkle to third. Jeremias Dela Cruz then chopped one over the mound, the North Central was able to get only the out at second as Trinkle crossed the plate with the winning run.
Trinkle finished 4 for 4, and Finke went 3 for 3. Korry Drum, who pitched the final three innings, picked up the win in relief of Thompson.
In the second game, each team scored a run in the first and two in the third. Columbus North’s third-inning runs came on RBI-singles by Trinkle and Wetherald.
North Central pushed across a run in the fourth and two in the sixth off Jakob Meyer, who had relieved Parker Maddox, and held on for the win.
The Bull Dogs outhit the Panthers 6-4 in the second game, but left nine runners on base. Trinkle went 2 for 3 with a double, and Wetherald went 2 for 3.
Columbus North will take a 12-12 record into Wednesday’s 6 p.m. sectional opener against East Central at Bloomington North.
“We like where we’re at right now,” McDaniel said. “Our record doesn’t necessarily speak for where we are. I’m not out here chasing ‘W’s. I’d put our strength of schedule up against anybody in the state.”