Columbus High had its chances in a crucial region baseball game against Troup on Tuesday at home.
In the end, though, it was the Tigers who took advantage, winning 5-4 in nine innings. It was Troup’s seventh win in a row and put it in a deadlock with Columbus in the region.
Columbus now has losses against each of the other three teams (Alexander, Carrollton and Troup) that it is contending with in the region.
“They outplayed us,” Blue Devils coach Bobby Howard said. “They outcoached us. We had several chances to put things away early and just missed them.”
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They had chances late, too.
In a tie game in the eighth inning, Columbus (14-6, 8-3) loaded the bases with just one out. A squeeze attempt failed, however, resulting in an out at home plate. A strikeout ended the inning without a run crossing the plate.
Troup (12-8, 8-3) scored the go-ahead run in the next half-inning on an error when Columbus tried to get a force out at second base, and the Blue Devils were unable to respond in their last at-bat.
Howard didn’t want to overemphasize the end of the game, however, noting that the team had its chances earlier, too.
After falling behind 1-0 in the top of the second inning on an unearned run, Columbus came back for two runs of its own in the bottom half. Catcher Nick Poskey drove in the team’s first run with a single and Hunter Swilling walked with the bases loaded to make it 2-1. Poskey was 3 for 4 with an RBI in the game.
The Blue Devils left the bases loaded on a flyout to end the inning, however.
Perhaps carrying over the momentum from getting out of the jam, Troup connected for four hits, including a leadoff double from designated hitter Malcolm Tatum, in the top of the third. Three of those runners came across on a two-RBI double by Jacob Ozley and an RBI single by Dalton Hadley.
The Blue Devils got two more in the fifth to tie the score on RBI singles from designated hitter Martin Wood and pitcher Will Kilgore. Wood and Kilgore each finished the game with two hits and an RBI.
Columbus missed an opportunity for more, though, when a runner was thrown out at the plate for the second out and a fielder’s choice at second ended the inning.
In all, Columbus was 3 for 12 with runners in scoring position.
“We had so many other chances earlier, and we just didn’t do it,” Howard said. “We hit some hard, but we didn’t get enough across.”
Overshadowed in the loss was the strong performance of Kilgore on the mound. After struggling a little early, Kilgore settled into a good groove, pitching seven innings and allowing three earned runs. Swilling, who relieved Kilgore in extras, allowed two hits and no earned runs, but took the loss.
Troup’s Jarred Adams picked up the win in relief.
The game was an important one with plenty of region implications: Columbus not only dropped out of a tie for first, but is now in a battle to stay away from the fourth seed.
Still, though, Howard said his team isn’t going to stay focused on this one.
“Shaw is our most important game now,” he said simply.
David Mitchell, 706-571-8571; Follow David on Twitter @leprepsports.
Tuesday at Columbus
Troup 013 000 001—5 9 2
Columbus 020 020 000—4 13 2
WP—Adams. LP—Swilling. Leading hitters: Troup, Ozley 3 for 4, 2B, 2 RBIs; Columbus, Poskey 3 for 4, 2B, RBI, Kilgore 2 for 5, 2B, RBI. Records: Troup, 12-8, 8-3; Columbus, 14-6, 8-3. Next: Troup, Thursday vs. Fayette County; Columbus, Thursday vs. Shaw.