Losses end string of 15 straight quarterfinal appearances
By DAVID MITCHELL
The Columbus High baseball team wasn't ready for its season to be over, nor for its string of three consecutive state championships to come to an end.
The Blue Devils scored three runs on three hits in the final frame of Game 2 on Wednesday. That one inning, however, couldn't erase the 13 before it.
Columbus was swept in two games by Redan at home, losing the first 5-4 and the second 9-4 and ending a long string of postseason success.
It is the first time since 1998 the Blue Devils failed to win at least two playoff series and the first time since 1997 they failed to advance to the state quarterfinals. Coincidentally, they were coming off of three consecutive state titles in 1997, as well.
"We put up a good fight," senior Tony Dalponte said after the game. "I guess it was just their day. We tried our hardest, but it just wasn't meant to be."
Coming into the season, Columbus had to replace eight starters from its 2012 championship team. Dalponte said that the team knew it was going to be a challenge this season, but they wanted to use that as motivation. Despite not advancing out of the second round, the third baseman still believes the season was a success for the Blue Devils.
"Oh, yeah," he said. "We knew it would be difficult. We knew it was going to be hard to replace some of the guys we had last year, but we did everything we
It appeared early on that Columbus would have the upper hand once again. Deeper in pitching than their opponents, a split in the doubleheader on Wednesday would have favored the Blue Devils in the series.
The Blue Devils took a 3-0 lead through four innings in the first game and were seemingly in complete control. Starting pitcher Hunter Swilling hadn't allowed a hit and only two runners had reached base for the Raiders.
Redan sent nine batters to the plate in the fifth, however, scoring five time to take a two-run lead. It recorded just three hits in the inning, but was helped by an error, two hit batters and a walk. Those were the only three hits the Raiders recorded in the game.
"We gave up too many freebies," Columbus coach Bobby Howard said. "We walked three and hit three in the first game, made an error and then they drive in two more. That one inning, they got four runs they shouldn't have gotten."
Dalponte, who had five hits and two RBIs in the two games, homered to get one back in the fifth, but the Blue Devils got no closer than that.
Despite scoring three early runs, Columbus missed more opportunities, particularly in the first inning when it left two runners on base. Last week, the Blue Devils jumped on Lanier early, scoring four runs in the first inning. On Wednesday, it settled for one. They did the same in Game 2, scoring one in the first but leaving two men on base. Redan followed with a four-run bottom half, setting the tone for the rest of the game.
"There's no doubt that hurt us," Howard said. "This is the most athletic team we've faced all year. They're athletic and they have great pitching. You can't give them extra outs or miss opportunities."
Redan went ahead 9-1 in the second game before Columbus scored three in the seventh to make it a 9-4 final.
"We had a little rally," Howard said. "Our guys competed the whole way. They just came up a little short."
The Raiders pitching in both games was impressive. In the first win, Corderius Dorsey pitched a complete game and allowed four runs. He has not allowed more than four runs in a game all season. Brandon Baker, a Missouri signee, went the distance in the second, allowing three earned runs and striking out four.
"Our kids didn't back down," Redan coach Marvin Pruitt said.
"They came to play. We preach four runs or less on the mound, and we got it done today."
The Raiders will face the winner of Mary Persons and Locust Grove in the quarterfinals.
David Mitchell, 706-571-8571. Follow David on Twitter at @leprepsports
Wednesday at Columbus
Redan 000 050 0--5 3 3
Columbus 100 210 0--4 6 1
WP--Dorsey. LP--Hunter Swilling. Leading hitters--Redan, Williams 1-3, 2B, 2RBI; Nelson 1-4, R, RBI; Columbus, Tony Dalponte 3-3, HR, RBI; Al Jones 1-4, R; Reeves Sheffield 1-3, RBI
Columbus 100 000 3--4 6 2
Redan 420 021 x--9 8 3
WP--Baker. LP--Will Bice. Leading hitters--Columbus, Hunter Swilling 1-4, 2R; Dalponte 2-3, 2B, RBI; Martin Wood 2-4, 2B, 2RBI; Redan Jones 1-4, 2R; Baker 2-3, 2R, 2RBI; Williams 2-3, HR, 2R, 3RBI; Gale 1-4, R, RBI. Records--Columbus, 20-11; Redan, 24-6. Next: Redan, state quarterfinals Tuesday. Columbus, season over.
The years after three-peats have not been kind to the Columbus High baseball team.
After they won in 1994, '95 and '96, they lost in the first round to Jones County in 1997.
Prior to Wednesday's second-round exit, the Blue Devils had made it at least to the quarterfinal round in 15 straight years.
1998 Lost to Jones County Quarterfinals
1999 Lost to Marist Semifinals
2000 Beat Marist Finals
*2001 Lost to Shaw Finals
2002 Lost to Marist Quarterfinals
2003 Lost to Marist Finals
2004 Beat Northgate Finals
2005 Beat Shaw Finals
2006 Lost to Blessed Trinity Finals
2007 Lost to Dunwoody Finals
2008 Lost to Cartersville Quarterfinals
2009 Lost to Cartersville Finals
2010 Beat Ringgold Finals
2011 Beat Spalding Finals
2012 Beat Ringgold Finals* Playoffs went from four rounds to five, so teams have to win two rounds to reach quarterfinals.