Big fifth sends Franklin past Bull Dogs

Sam Perry

SHELBYVILLE — One bad inning was all it took to derail Columbus North’s hopes of making a deep tournament run.

The Bull Dogs allowed Franklin five runs in the fifth inning Wednesday, and that was all the Grizzly Cubs needed to post a 5-3 victory in the opening round of the Shelbyville Sectional.

“We have to show some grit and handle some adversity now and then, and we didn’t handle the adversity very well,” North coach Mike Bodart said.

Things started off well enough for the Bull Dogs. Connor Hensley had allowed only one hit and no runs through four innings, and North plated a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth to take a 2-0 lead.

Jayce Emmitt led off with a single, but then was thrown out on a bang-bang play at the plate on a double by Zach McLean. McLean took second on the throw to the plate and, after an intentional walk to Dillon James, scored on a passed ball. James took second on the passed ball and scored on a double by Lane Schrader

Franklin (15-10) then sent 10 batters to the plate in the fateful fifth. Pitcher Braeden Burton led off with a home run; then a walk, a sacrifice and an error plated the tying run. An RBI-double by Landon Basey drove in the go-ahead run, a two-out RBI single by Blake Smythe made it 4-2 and the fifth run scored on a dropped popup.

“We had 2-0 and another runner that was safe at home that was called out – that puts you up 3-0, and it’s a whole different ballgame at that point in time,” Bodart said. “The bottom line is, we just didn’t handle the adversity the way we needed to handle it.”

The Bull Dogs tried to stage a comeback in the bottom of the seventh when Sam Perry led off with a double, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on a groundout by Hensley. But after a walk to Blake Osbourne, Burton got a popup and a groundout to end it.

“He did an awesome job,” Franklin coach Jeremy McKinney said. “That’s an unbelievable job from that kid. He battled very hard. I thought about pulling him there in the seventh, and I’m really glad I didn’t. I trust Burton to get us out of it.”

Perry went 2 for 3 for North, which outhit the Grizzly Cubs 6-4. Ryan Rayburn took over for Hensley in the sixth and pitched two hitless, scoreless innings of relief.

North reached one of its season-long goals of winning the Conference Indiana title, but fell short of another goal defending its sectional championship.

“We had high expectations, and it’s unfortunate when you don’t reach them,” Bodart said. “But when you step back and you look at it as a whole, 17-8, you’re disappointed because you lose some games that you probably shouldn’t have lost, but then we probably won some games that we shouldn’t have won. As a whole, we’re happy with the way we progressed. I’m going to miss those seniors, and all we can do is learn from it and move on.”