The Columbus North offensive juggernaut was struggling a bit as the first three innings passed during Monday’s game against visiting Hauser at North’s park at Southside Elementary.
These were the same Bull Dogs who had scored 46 runs in their first four games.
Hauser starting pitcher Rory Thayer was agitating North by mixing up his pitches and hitting his spots. Through three innings, North had four hits and two runs.
Eventually, though, the Bull Dogs’ offense couldn’t be denied as they notched an 11-1 victory that ended after five innings due to the 10-run rule.
“He did a great job of keeping us off-balance tonight,” North coach Ben McDaniel said of Thayer. “We were expecting mostly fastballs, and he mixed it up a bit with some off-speed pitches, and he located them pretty well.”
Hauser coach Jerry Schoen also was pleased with Thayer’s early game performance.
“Rory did a fantastic job for us tonight,” Schoen said. “We showed a lot of heart out there today.
“We made some great plays in the field early on, and I was also pleased with our poise, our demeanor and our hustle.”
Eventually, North’s powerful lineup adjusted and broke the game open.
“It just took us a while to get adjusted to his pitching from what we have been facing,” North sophomore Brice McDaniel said. “Pitchers we faced in previous games had very quick fastballs, and it caught us off guard at first, especially when he threw low-speed pitches.”
With the score only 2-0 after three innings, Hauser finally got on the board in the fourth inning after an RBI single from Dalton McKinney.
But in the bottom of the fourth, the Bull Dogs woke up offensively. With the bases loaded, Brice McDaniel smacked a two-run double, and the floodgates were open.
After a fielding error by Hauser allowed another run, North junior Evan Finke and senior Will Dorenbusch smacked RBI singles. The Bull Dogs scored seven runs in the fourth inning to take a 9-1 lead.
“They were eventually going to hit at some point when you start throwing strikes because they are a great hitting team from top to bottom in the lineup,” Schoen said.
Ben McDaniel made sure his players remained focused at the plate.
“I started challenging the team to turn things around and to right the ship,” Ben McDaniel said. “We started getting aggressive at the plate because we were extremely loose to begin with, and we just weren’t ourselves.”
“It took us a while to get going at the plate,” said junior Devin Mann, North’s leadoff batter who singled, walked twice and scored three runs. “Coach told us that we needed to start hitting and not let Hauser get closer to us. I stayed patient in my at-bats and just looked for the right pitch for me to hit.”
“I don’t think we were focused enough until the fourth inning,” Brice McDaniel said. “Once we started hitting the ball, I think everyone’s confidence came back up, and we started hitting the way we usually do.”
The Bull Dogs (4-0-1) added two runs in the fifth to put the game away. Cody Burton’s RBI single ended the contest early by 10-run rule.