LAGRANGE, Ga. — After 14 regular-season region games, the Region 5-AAAA baseball championship still wasn’t decided. Columbus High made sure to end the suspense quickly on Wednesday.
The Blue Devils scored three runs in the first inning, seven in the second and cruised to a 12-4 win over Carrollton in a five-inning mini-game at LaGrange College to break the tie.
With the win, Columbus (18-6) clinched its 11th consecutive region championship a top seed in the forthcoming Class AAAA playoffs. The top seed was just as important as extending that impressive streak for Columbus, which won three straight state titles in Class AAA before moving up a class this season.
“That’s a big deal,” catcher Luke Thompson said of the top seed. “Now we’ve got home games for the first couple of rounds. It’s always good to have that support behind you.”
It was Thompson that got Columbus going early in the game. With the bases loaded and two out in the first inning, Thompson laced a double to the fence to drive in all three runs.
What followed was an offensive barrage by the Blue Devils offense, which has been at times stagnant by its standards this season.
Columbus sent 10 batters to the plate in the second inning, scoring seven, to take a commanding 10-1 lead in the game. It connected for five consecutive hits, four singles and a double, to begin the inning before a flyout momentarily stalled the rally. Will Kilgore knocked an RBI double and Thompson an RBI single to keep the action going, however, and Robin Geven added an RBI double before the inning came to a close.
Thompson was 2 for 3 with four RBIs on the day and Geven was 3 for 3 with two RBIs.. Al Jones added three hits and two RBIs to his team’s cause.
“I don’t know, everything just clicked starting with the double in the first,” Thompson said. “We just kept hitting bullets.”
Coach Bobby Howard said Wednesday’s offensive performance was probably the most consistent his team’s hitting has been all season.
“We squared a lot of balls up today,” he said. “It’s probably the most consistent we’ve been, which is a good start.”
Not to be forgotten was the pitching performance of starter Will Bice, who went 3 1/3 innings and allowed four runs, three earned, and five hits. The line doesn’t sound as effective as the pitcher was.
Bice got into a minor jam in the bottom of the first after getting the first two men out. Carrollton followed with a single, a walk and another single to put a run across, but Bice struck out the last man in the inning to get away without further damage.
In the fourth, the Trojans started to show life striking for three more runs and knocking Bice from the game. Reliever Cason Greathouse got out of the jam and closed the door in the final inning, however.
“My curveball and slider were both working pretty well,” Bice said after the game. “I left my fastball up a little bit, but it was pretty good overall.”
Howard said his pitcher was a little wild early on, but was very effective.
“He really gave us a good start today,” Howard said.
Columbus will play three non-region games before the start of the postseason: home against Harris County, at Marist and at Parkview.
Bice and Thompson both said that it’s a challenging stretch that should keep the team prepared going forward. Howard agreed.
“Those are some really good teams to get better against,” he said. “Just going to work on playing the game the right way. The coaches do a good job keeping the guys focused.”
David Mitchell, 706-571-8571; Follow David on Twitter @leprepsports.
Wednesday at LaGrange College
Columbus 370 02—12 14 1
Carrollton 100 30—4 7 2
WP—Will Bice. LP—Tanner Roach. Leading hitters—Columbus, Luke Thompson 2 for 3, 2B, 4 RBIs, Al Jones 3 for 4, 2 RBIs, Robin Geven 3 for 3, 2 2Bs, 2 RBIs; Carrollton, Drew Dickey 2 for 3, RBI, Chip Murrah 1 for 2, 2 RBIs. Records—Columbus, 18-6, 12-3; Carrollton, 20-7, 11-4. Next—Columbus, Thursday vs. Harris County at home.