Columbus High began its quest for the school's 13th state title with a 9-3 and 10-0 sweep of River Ridge on Friday afternoon at Randy Jordan Field in the first round of the Class AAAA state playoffs.
In the second game, Will Bice came within an out of a six-inning no-hitter.
"We have some things to sharpen up on, but overall I thought the guys played pretty well," Columbus coach Bobby Howard said. "A few guys really stepped up for us today at the plate, and Bice pitched a great second game."
The only time the Blue Devils were on the ropes was in the opening inning of Game 1 as River Ridge loaded the bases before Cason Greathouse recorded the first out of the inning. However, the sophomore wiggled out of the jam, allowing just one run on a sacrifice fly.
Columbus quickly responded scoring three runs in the bottom of the first, including stealing a run on a double steal and getting a 0-2 run scoring single from junior Dylan Baker.
Leading 4-2 heading into the bottom of the third, the Blue Devils cushioned their lead scoring three runs to go up 7-2. The rally began after Sloan Parker issued a one-out walk to Russell Forthofer. Baker followed with a double over the right fielder's head. With two runners in scoring position, Knox Carter laced a single to center field scoring both runners. Carter later scored on a Bice double.
An inning later, a one-out triple by Nick Poskey began a two-run fourth. Greathouse helped himself with a sharp RBI single, while a bases loaded walk chased
home Columbus ninth run of the game.
Greathouse went six innings for the win, allowing three run on six hits. At the plate, Baker was 3-for-3 with a RBI. while Poskey had a 2-for-3 performance with two runs scored.
Columbus picked up right where it left off in Game 2 as Poskey legged out his second triple of the day to right field, scoring Will Kilgore who leadoff the game with a walk. Greathouse quickly made it 2-0, singling over a jumping Noah Fitzgerald at short.
That's was all Bice needed on the mound. Making his first start in over a month, the senior was just one out away from a six inning no-hitter allowing a double to the final hitter he faced. Bice showed signs of rust walking seven, but he did struck out six.
Jacob Pate relieved Bice after the double and got the final out of the game.
River Ridge was in the game until the fifth inning when Columbus batted around scoring five runs. The first five hitters reached base via a hit including Kilgore who hit a long home run over the left field wall. Poskey collected a RBI single while Forthofer had a two-run single right back up the middle.
In the sixth, Baker had a base clearing three-run double to push Columbus lead to 10-0.
Columbus will either travel to Walnut Grove or host Columbia on Wednesday in the second round.
Friday at Columbus
River Ridge 101 010 0--3 6 2
Columbus 313 200 x--9 11 0
WP - Greathouse. LP - Parker. Leading hitters - Columbus, Baker 3 for 3, 2B, RBI, Poskey 2 for 3, 3B, SB, 2 runs; River Ridge, Berryhill 3 for 3, SB, 3 runs, Cable 1 for 2, 2 RBIs. Records - Columbus 22-5; River Ridge 16-10.
Columbus 200 053 --10 12 2
River Ridge 000 000 --0 1 1
WP - Bice. LP - Worley. Leading hitters - Columbus, Poskey 3 for 3, 3B, 3 runs, 2 RBIs, Baker 2 for 4, 2B, 3 RBIs; River Ridge, NeSmith-Hicks 1 for 1, 2B. Records - Columbus 23-5; River Ridge 16-11. Next: Columbus, Walnut Grove/Columbia, Wednesday. River Ridge, Season Over