Columbus bounces back from loss

February 16, 2009

Adam Minichino - [email protected]


The Columbus High School baseball team showed Saturday night it can bounce back from a discouraging loss. 


Now the Falcons have to focus on playing more consistently so they don''t have to make things so tough on themselves. 


Columbus rebounded from a 14-run loss to New Hope earlier Saturday night to beat Caledonia 5-4 in the final game of the Columbus Classic at Sammy Fletcher Field. 


Rain on Friday night forced all of the tournament''s action to be played Saturday.  


The Falcons arrived at the field at 8 a.m. to help get the field ready and then had to wait until 6:18 Saturday night to throw their first pitch against New Hope. 


A seven-error, 20-6 loss followed, but Columbus regrouped in the nightcap, using a solid pitching effort from Dylan Anderson, Nick Durrah, and Billy Autrey to edge Caledonia 5-4. 


Autrey had a double and an RBI, Tyji Hawkins had a single and an RBI, and Stefan Hairston had two hits and an RBI to help Columbus even its record at 1-1. 


"We played a little better (in the second game)," Columbus coach Jeffrey Cook said. "We didn''t play as sharp as I thought we were going to, or as sharp as we did last weekend (at the Caledonia jamboree). I don''t know if it was the long wait or playing in the temperatures (which got colder as the night progressed), but it was kind of frustrating the way we played in both games." 


Cook said Anderson set the tone against Caledonia by coming out and getting ahead of hitters. In the first game against New Hope, Hawkins walked five in the first inning, four coming after he had two strikes. 


"I thought Dylan did an outstanding job," Cook said. "Nick Durrah came in and faced six batters in two innings and Billy came in and kind of shut them down. I thought all three pitchers did an outstanding job." 


Cook said he and his assistant coaches preach to their pitchers about the importance of throwing strikes. The second game showed what can happen when the pitchers do their jobs and the Falcons make the plays. 


Columbus committed six of its seven errors in a 10-run sixth inning against New Hope. 


Cook also said the Falcons will continue to work to get production from the middle of the lineup offensively. Autrey went 2-for-3 against New Hope, but the No. 4 and No. 5 hitters went 1-for-7 behind him. 


"We''re trying to find a No. 4 hitter, but we feel Nick Durrah and Stefan Hairston are going to do a very good job," said Cook, who praised the work of the school''s athletic booster club for helping make the tournament a success. "Nick had a big hit in the first game, and Stefan had some good swings in the second game. We just feel with more at-bats and more chances those guys are going to step up and help protect Billy in the lineup." 


Caledonia coach Sam Adams'' team dropped a 9-8 decision to Mooreville in its first game in the morning and then had to wait until late Saturday night to complete its action. 


The Confederates allowed only two hits in the first game, but committed five costly errors. 


Caledonia didn''t make any errors against Columbus, but had only three hits. 


"We had seven hits in the first game, which is a positive," Adams said. "If we don''t make errors, I think we have a chance to win the game pretty easily." 


Cory Critcher and Sy Hunter each had two hits in the first game for Caledonia. 


Adams said his team''s inexperience at several positions Saturday showed. He said several younger players will need time to get more repetitions in practice and in game before they start to feel a little more comfortable. 


Adams was pleased with the starting pitching performances of Tyler Aldridge and Tyler Pounders. Still, he said all of his pitchers need to do a better job limiting leadoff walks and throwing too many pitches. 


At the plate, Adams said the Confederates will look to get back to the more aggressive approach they showed in the first game. 


"We took too many fastballs right down the middle in the second game," Adams said "For some reason we were a little more aggressive in the first game. In the second game we were a little more laid back." 


Columbus plays Hamilton on Tuesday, while Caledonia will take on Houston. 




Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.