All the ingredients were in the mix Friday for the Columbus East baseball team to fire a dud.
The Olympians were hammered 9-2 on their home field by Jeffersonville in a game that really didn’t matter.
East had defeated Jeffersonville 5-1 on May 16 to win the Hoosier Hills Conference Tournament championship in the game of more importance. The Olympians already had won three games earlier this week to stretch their winning streak to 10 games.
With the sectional playoffs set to begin for East next Wednesday with a game against tournament host East Central, Jonathan Gratz’s squad was due for a letdown.
Throw in the start of a holiday weekend, and it wasn’t surprising that the Olympians didn’t have their usual fire.
“We weren’t as up in the dugout as I would have liked,” Gratz said. “I don’t know if we were looking forward to the sectional or what.”
One thing Gratz did know is that his team wasn’t going to beat a very solid Jeffersonville squad without playing its best.
“It’s baseball,” Gratz said with a shrug. “It happens.”
Although East threatened at times, it never figured out Red Devils’ starting pitcher Josh Burke, who went the distance. The Olympians scored the game’s first run in the bottom of the second when Alex Hasson beat out an infield hit to drive in Payton Gray.
East also scored a meaningless run in the sixth when Hasson singled home Sam Claycamp, who had tripled deep to left.
Other than those brief glimpses of offense, East was never to string any offense together. Burke stranded nine Olympians on base and induced two double plays.
Even without playing sharp baseball, East took a 1-0 lead into the top of the fourth when Jeffersonville scored twice off Olympians starter Nick Beamish. One run scored on a wild pitch and the other on a fielder’s choice.
Beamish probably deserved better as his defense, while not committing any errors, didn’t come up with some very makeable plays.
Gratz went to Garrett Thrasher on the mound in the fifth, and he pitched a scoreless inning before running into trouble in the nightmarish sixth.
Like Beamish before him, Thrasher couldn’t get a break. Jeffersonvile put together three infield hits in a row to load the bases with nobody out.
Gratz pulled Thrasher, but it didn’t matter. By the time the inning was done, 12 Red Devils had come to the plate, scoring seven runs on six hits with three walks. It was 9-1, and everyone in orange was planning their holiday weekend.
East’s record dropped to 18-6 while Jeffersonville improved to 13-6.
Although the Olympians finished their regular season with a poor effort, it didn’t detract from all the work they’ve done so far, including their first conference title since 2001.
“I’m happy with the way it’s gone,” Gratz said. “This is the best record we’ve had in a long time.
“But everyone is 0-0 now.”