Instant Classic / East edges North in 8 innings for first sectional in 19 years

SHELBYVILLE — The Columbus East baseball team was ready to party like it’s 1999.

That was the last time the Olympians won a sectional baseball title. But Monday night, they ended a 19-year drought with a 7-6, eight-inning win against Columbus North in the Shelbyville Sectional final.

To do it, East had to come from behind three times, including a 4-0 deficit after three innings. The Olympians scored twice in the fourth and twice in the sixth to tie it.

Then, after Drew Hasson replaced starter Cole Gilley in the top of the seventh and gave up a run, Hasson smashed a home run to dead center field with one out in the bottom of the seventh to send it to extra innings.

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“I was just trying to do anything to help our team win the game,” Hasson said. “I always have the same swing, and off the bat, I didn’t think it was going that far, but it ended up going that far for a home run.”

The Bull Dogs (18-10) once again took the lead in the top of the eighth when Kyler McIntosh reached on an error, Tyler Finke reached on a fielder’s choice, stole second and scored on a two-out single by Casper Clark.

But East (20-7) didn’t go away.

Parker Harrison led off the bottom of the eighth with a double. Alec Burnett was hit by a pitch, and Klayton Brummett singled to load the bases with nobody out.

North coach Ben McDaniel brought freshman Kyler McIntosh on to replace Jakob Meyer, and McIntosh promptly hit Jonah Wichman to force in the tying run. Josh Major then delivered a bloop single to score his little brother, pinch-runner Ben Major with the winning run.

“I was just trying to get something in the air,” Major said. “Not very often do you get a second opportunity. In the sixth inning, I had the same opportunity, and I didn’t come through, so I just knew I had to try to do anything to get the ball in the air, get it to the outfield and help my team win.”

Meyer had entered the game in with two out in the fourth after East had scored its first two runs off North starter Parker Maddox. Meyer got out of that inning with a strikeout and retired the Olympians in the fifth, but Gilley led off the sixth with a home run to left-center, and East added another unearned run to tie the game at 4-4.

Meyer was playing first base when he stopped a grounder to end Friday’s 5-4 semifinal win against Bloomington North.

“I think there at the end, they were sitting on Jakob Meyer’s fastball. The ground ball that he stopped in the Bloomington North game, he took it off the thumb, and his thumb is jammed. I’m not sure if it’s broke or not, but he couldn’t throw his breaking ball. I think (East) figured that out, and they were sitting on his fastball, and they teed off.”

The Bull Dogs were in control early. They reached Gilley for four runs in the third, highlighted by RBI-singles from Finke and Adam Chapman.

Maddox, meanwhile did not allow a hit until Nash Murphy’s RBI-double in the fourth put the Olympians on the board.

“Credit to East,” McDaniel said. “We had them down 4-0, and they fought back. They never quit. I’m proud of our guys for responding. We never quit, either.”

Austin Bode went 2 for 2 for North, which outhit the Olympians 11-7. Grant Trinkle went 2 for 3, and Chapman went 2 for 4.

Major went 2 for 5 to lead East at the plate.

“They just never quit,” Gratz said. “They stayed positive, and they’ve been doing that all year long. They kept fighting and kept battling. We started to get some hits when we needed them. We started to hit the ball hard there late in the game. I’m so proud of this team.”