The Columbus baseball team cruised through its non-region schedule to open the season, and on Tuesday it showed why it will once again be a threat within the region, as well.
In their Region 1-5A opener, the Blue Devils shut out Harris County 9-0, delivering a complete effort on the mound, in the field and, particularly, at the plate. Columbus reeled off 13 hits, a pair of home runs and six total extra base hits. Six players recorded a hit, and four of those had more than one.
In addition to the three shutout innings he pitched on the mound, Cason Greathouse was 4-for-4 with two RBIs at the plate, Jack Copley added three hits, including a triple and a home run, and three RBIs and Gage Dempsey notched two doubles.
It was the type of effort coach Chad Mathis has come to expect from his team early in the season.
“I didn’t want to take anyone for granted today,” he said. “I just wanted to come out strong and get this first region win. I was proud of the way our guys played today.”
The bats have been a major source of optimism for the Blue Devils all year and were again on Tuesday. Mathis said the addition of Copley, along with the emergence of a handful of other players, has helped things fall into place so far this season.
Copley, who played in just four games last season due to a hamstring injury, has stepped up to fill a need in the middle of the lineup and has already produced 15 RBIs.
“He’s stepped up this year,” Mathis said. “He’s basically taken that third-base role, embraced it and ran with it. I love it.”
After the Blue Devils went scoreless in the first inning, it was a single by Copley in the second that got things going offensively. He reached first on a single up the middle, went to third on a double by Dempsey and scored on a sacrifice fly by Dawson Weaver. Dempsey scored on a single by Jackson Mellenberg.
They scored three more in the third, including one on a triple by Copley, one in the fourth on an RBI single by Greathouse and three more in the sixth on a solo home run by Blake Hicks and a two-run shot by Copley.
“I’ve hit a lot in practice, gotten a lot of BP,” Copley said. “It gets your confidence up and translates to the game.”
The strong offensive performance took the pressure off of Greathouse on the mound, not that he needed it. He was dominant from the start, allowing one hit in three innings and striking out four. He got an early break, moving to first base in the fourth inning after throwing just 31 pitches. Mathis said he wanted to get some of the guys in the dugout a chance to see some live action to prepare for region play down the road.
“We do have LaGrange on Thursday and Friday, and I kind of wanted to see what we could do today with some of the guys in the dugout,” Mathis Said. “I went with it. He started the game, he gave us three great innings and (the offense) gave us five. I felt like whoever we brought in should be able to hold that lead.”
Greathouse complimented his brother, pitching coach Cam Greathouse, for some of his early-season success.
“Pitch calling with my brother being here this year has been great,” he said. “He’s spending time and working with us every day on and off the field. Everything’s been working. In and out, up and down, everything.”
Columbus returns to the field on Thursday at LaGrange. Harris County will travel to Shaw.
Columbus 9, Harris County 0
WP: Cason Greathouse. LP: Matthew Becker. Top hitters: Harris County, Harry Rich 1-2, 2B; Columbus, Blake Hicks 2-3, HR, RBI, R, Cason Greathouse 4-4, 2B, 2 RBIs, R, Jack Copley 3-4, 3B, HR, 3 RBIs, 3 Rs, Gage Dempsey 2-3, 2 2Bs, RBI, R, Jackson Mellenberg 1-2, RBI. Records: Harris County, 3-3-1, 0-1; Columbus, 7-0, 1-0. Next: Harris County, Thursday at Shaw; Columbus, Thursday at LaGrange.