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East beats Jeffersonville for 1st league title since 2001

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JEFFERSONVILLE — The Columbus East baseball team had just shocked host Jeffersonville with five runs in the top of the first inning Saturday when the Olympians were taking the field.

Perhaps it was just a coincidence, or perhaps the public address announcer wanted to put a charge into the home team. Over the loudspeaker played “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”

In this case, with Olympians pitcher Cam Curry on the mound, this particular mountain was way too high for the Red Devils.

With Curry tossing a three-hitter, East claimed its first Hoosier Hills Conference Tournament championship since 2001 with a 5-1 victory.

In a word, Curry was dominating. He allowed three hits and walked one.

When the Red Devils finally scored their only run in the fourth inning, Curry slammed the door, retiring the final 11 batters in order. Jeffersonville (13-6) went three up and three down in five of the seven innings.

“I felt great,” said Curry, who also had two hits and scored a run. “I knew I had to be aggressive. After that first inning, you have so much of a cushion, but I was really not wanting them to score.”

Although the Olympians (16-5) couldn’t score after the first inning, they couldn’t have hoped for a better start against Jeffersonville ace Drew Ellis.

Curry opened the game with a single to right, and Ellis then hit Takahiro Yamada with a pitch. Nick Andrie put East on the board with an RBI single to left, then William Anderson hit a rocket double to the right center field gap that scored Yamada and Andrie.

Perhaps a bit rattled, Ellis then walked Christian Wichman and threw a passed ball that moved Anderson to third and Wichman to second.

Sam Claycamp brought the fourth run home with a ground out, and Connor Roberts capped the inning with an RBI double to deep left center that glanced off left fielder Nolan Fertig’s glove.

“This is awesome,” Roberts said after the Olympians took a team photo following their championship. “I am so glad to be part of this team.

“We had a team meeting earlier this season, and we were trying to get on the same page. We just didn’t have the intensity that we have now.”

That team meeting came after a 5-4 loss to Jennings County on May 1. The Olympians have won eight games in a row since.

“We’ve come a long way,” said East coach Jonathan Gratz as he watched parents snap photos of his triumphant players. “And we got off to a good start (against Jeffersonville). It would have been nice to keep it going, but we were still hitting the ball hard. It you get pitching and defense like that, you are going to win some games.”

Gratz was pleased with Curry’s work on the mound.

“He went right at them,” Gratz said. “He had real good stuff.”

Curry was so efficient, and his pitch count was so low, that Gratz didn’t even have to worry about going to a reliever.

In one inning, Curry retired the side on three pitches. That will earn him a steak dinner from pitching coach Justin Denney, who has made the offer the past 12 years without having to pay off.

With one swoop, Curry knocked off that streak as well as halted the HHC championship drought.

The next streak up for the Olympians? They haven’t won a sectional since 1999.

“We’ll get back out there to practice on Monday,” Gratz said.

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