Bull Dogs put together all-around performance in season-opening rout

Columbus North’s Zach McLean and Connor Hensley exchange high-fives after scoring a run during Monday’s season opener against Roncalli at Bull Dog Fields at Southside Elementary School.

Tommy Walker | For The Republic

Columbus North picked up right where it left off after winning a sectional title last season when it opened the 2024 campaign Monday night.

The Bull Dogs pounded out 11 hits, played errorless defense and had very little else to complain about after rolling to an 11-1, five-inning win against Roncalli.

“We will take double-digit hits and no errors every single night,” North coach Mike Bodart said. “They’re a really good team. This was their fifth game, and it was our first, but we still have to play the game, and I thought we were ready to play.”

Three Bull Dog pitchers combined on a four-hitter. Starter Connor Hensley allowed two hits in two scoreless innings, Ryan Rayburn gave up two hits and a run in two innings and Javier Martinez Uscanga, a move-in from Mexico, threw a perfect fifth.

“Rayburn came in and did what he’s done since he was on varsity last year, and then Javier with his first official high school baseball game ever was phenomenal,” Bodart said. “We have five games in five days, so we try to think ahead and put guys on pitch limits that we want to come back with. So that was all planned, and it worked out the way we wanted it to.”

After two scorless innings, North took advantage of four hits and three Royals errors to score six times in the third. Sam Perry led off with a single, Dillon James walked and Blake Osbourne laid down a sacrifice bunt and went to second when the throw to first went into right field. Brock Kintner was hit by a pitch to load the bases, and Hensley and Zach McLean followed with RBI-singles. Kintner came home on a wild throw to third, and Hensley and McLean came all the way around on a wild throw to the plate to try to get Kintner.

Roncalli (3-2) pushed across a run in the top of the fourth, but the Bull Dogs got it back in the bottom of the inning on a leadoff single by James, one-out singles by Kintner and Hensley and a sacrifice fly by McLean.

North then put it away in the fifth. Jayce Emmitt led off with a single, Rayburn walked and Perry reached on a fielder’s choice, with Emmitt scoring on the error. James then reached on a bunt single, and with two out, Hensley lined a two-run single. After McLean was hit by a pitch to load the bases, James scored on a wild pitch to end it.

“We started off strong, kept engaged in the game and we just kept putting hits together, playing as a team, picking each other up and we played very well,” Hensley said. “It’s a great start to the season. We executed all that we needed to, and it’s a great win.”

Hensley led the offense by going 3 for 3 with three RBIs.

“My teammates set that all up by getting on base,” Hensley said. “That put me in a good spot to be able to hit the ball and have a good approach just trying to get them in.”

James and Kintner each went 2 for 3 for North, which is scheduled to host East Central on Tuesday, weather permitting.

“We were ready to play,” Bodart said. “We’ve been practicing it seems like forever, and the guys were really excited to get this first game in and fortunately, the weather held off for us. We were pumped and ready to go.”