Rising above a painful season-ending loss for the Columbus East baseball team was the terrific pitching effort of Olympians junior Cam Curry.Bloomington South, the eventual 6-5 winner in the East Central Sectional semifinals Friday night, was threatening to turn the game into a laugher.
The Panthers had scored five runs in the third and were simply ripping the ball to left, center and right.
Curry wasn’t laughing.
East coach Jonathan Gratz went to Curry, who changed the entire complexion of the game by pitching angry.
Curry went right at the Panthers with fastballs and the Bloomington South hitters were not up to the task. He took over the inside of the plate by backing Bloomington South off, and when he came back with the occasional curve, they were bailing out. He gave up two hits and no runs in five innings of work. Meanwhile, East started to peck away at Bloomington South’s lead.
With two outs in the fourth and trailing 6-2, Sam Claycamp ripped a two-out double. Connor Roberts sent him to third with a infield single and Kyle Weiss, who had three singles on the night, stroked an RBI single to cut the lead to 6-3.
East then came close to getting all the way back in the fifth. Takahiro Yamada led off with a line ground-role double to center and went to third on a ground out. On a ball four, wild pitch to William Anderson, Yamada scored to cut the lead to 6-4.
Christian Wichman, who had a two-run single to put East on the board in the first inning, lined a double to left that put runners at second and third.
Bloomington South coach Phil Kluesner pulled starter Tyler Bivins at that point for lefty Jack Drew. Peyton Gray greeted Drew with a sacrifice fly to right field that cut the lead to 6-5.
However, Drew picked up a strike out to end the threat.
With Curry controlling Bloomington South’s offense, East had two innings to try to push across a run. Weiss picked up a one-out single in the sixth, but East could manage nothing more.
Kluesner made another pitching change in the seventh, going to his ace, Gage Rogers, who had pitched a one-hitter in Wednesday’s opening round win against Shelbyville.
Rogers allowed a single to Anderson and a walk to Gray, but struck out the side to end the game.
East, which finished the season, 19-7, was bidding to set up a championship game on Monday against the winner of Friday night’s late game between Columbus North and Bloomington North. The East-Bloomington South game began 15 minutes after its scheduled 6 p.m. start time due to a late umpire.
The Columbus North-Bloomington North game didn’t begin until 9:10 p.m. and was completed after The Republic’s deadline.
Friday’s East game marked the final appearance for seniors Wichman, Gray and Alex Hasson.
Gray, who is headed to Western Michigan on scholarship, was the Friday night starter for East but he simply didn’t have his best stuff.