North takes invitational title

It was a picture-perfect Saturday for a couple of near-perfect pitchers as Columbus North’s Nathan VanDeventer and Collin Lollar turned in stellar performances to help power the Bull Dogs to the championship of the Lou Giovanini Tournament at Columbus East.

North squared off against host East in the title tilt and held off a last-inning rally by the Olympians to prevail 4-1.

The Bull Dogs reached the championship in similar fashion after surrendering a pair of late scores to beat Richmond 8-2. The O’s advanced after drilling East Central 7-3 behind a complete pitching effort from Nick Beamish.

In the final showdown, VanDeventer started on the mound for the first time in his varsity career yet showed the poise of an experienced leader as he limited East to four hits in the complete-game outing.

[sc:text-divider text-divider-title=”Story continues below gallery” ]

The sophomore right-hander registered just four strikeouts, but issued no walks and let his defense do the dirty work. He ended up out-dueling Olympians senior ace Will Anderson, who had five strikeouts but lasted only four innings before being replaced by Cam Curry.

“Nathan pitched a couple of times in relief this season, but this was his first start,” said coach Ben McDaniel, whose Bull Dogs improved to 9-1 after the pair of victories. “He was pitching so well, we decided we had to put him into the starting rotation and this game just happened to fall in his slot.”

McDaniel said he was most impressed with VanDeventer’s efficiency as he tossed just 60 pitches heading into the final inning. He also complimented his mental toughness.

“We had a couple of bad bounces there in the last inning, but Nathan kept his cool,” McDaniel said. “We told him Wednesday he had this game and he showed he was ready for it.”

Both pitchers looked strong through the first three innings before the Bull Dogs managed to crack Anderson’s armor by plating a pair of two-out runs in each of the third and fourth frames.

After Cooper Trinkle, who went 3 for 3 at the plate, was caught stealing, freshman Tyler Finke rapped a single and came home moments later after junior Brice McDaniel connected on an inside off-speed offering for a two-run homer over and just inside the right-field foul pole.

Class 4A No. 4 North doubled its lead the next time up after Cody Burton drilled a double to center and moved to third on a passed ball. Lollar followed with a single and also scored after Trinkle slammed a two-base hit of his own.

Curry came on in relief of Anderson and held the Bull Dogs to just one hit over the final three innings, but enough damage had been done by the cross-town rivals, although the Olympians didn’t believe that.

East (5-3), whose three losses have all come against highly-ranked teams, refused to go down quietly and pulled off a two-out rally of its own in the seventh inning.

Senior Sam Claycamp, who had two of his team’s four hits, kept the action going and moved into scoring position after a grounder by Kyle Weiss handcuffed North’s Devin Mann at shortstop. Senior Connor Roberts then smoked a hard bouncer past the head of Burton at third base, driving in Claycamp and re-energizing the East players and fans.

But then Mann redeemed himself by scooping up Joey Back’s grounder and firing to second to end the contest and clinch the tournament trophy.

“We just didn’t hit enough line drives and ground balls today,” said East coach Jon Gratz, who noted his team launched a total of nine deep fly-outs. “Defensively, I think we played really well all day, but we’ve got to get back to putting the ball more in play offensively.”

Gratz said his team’s schedule is challenging for a reason.

“We want to play strong teams along the way and improve as we go,” he said. “Hopefully we can peek right at sectional time.”

In the Olympians’ earlier contest, East Central took advantage of an early miscue to score a trio of first- inning runs, but failed to make noise the rest of the way as Beamish and teammates held the guests to just four hits.

Beamish also registered nine strikeouts, rivaling the Bull Dogs’ Lollar, who pitched six shutout innings against Richmond and allowed just one hit.