Trevor Kaslon was out of the lineup recently while on a family vacation, during which his Columbus Cornerstone Insurance Group Seniors teammates developed an identity without their top gun to rely on.
Kaslon’s return helped spark an 8-1 win against Millard Sox at the Elkhorn tournament on Saturday, going 3-for-4 with a triple and a run batted in.
Unfortunately, it was the only victory Columbus could muster on the weekend.
After falling to Westview on Friday, 6-1, the Seniors followed that up with another setback on Saturday, to Waverly, 7-6, then dropped a 7-5 decision to Lincoln North on Sunday, 7-5.
Against Millard, Columbus struck for a run in the second inning when Logan Mueller reached on an error, then scored on a Jacob Morse double for a 1-0 lead.
Jake Novicki, who had homered in Friday’s game, continued his hot hitting with a single to right, which plated Brent Beard, who had earlier singled and it was 2-0.
Millard pulled a run back in the third against Columbus starter Cole Wilcox, but his teammates quickly picked up their teammates with another pair of runs in the top of the third.
Kaslon and Mueller singled to lead off the inning, then successfully executed a double steal, leaving runners on second and third for Morse.
Kaslon then scored on a wild pitch, with Mueller moving up to third on the play and also scoring on a Morse sacrifice fly to increase the Columbus advantage to 4-1.
The Seniors put the game away in the fifth when Kaslon and Mueller both scored on consecutive doubles by Mueller and Jared Nitz, who then crossed the plate on an error.
In the top of the sixth, Kaslon put the cherry on top with a triple to drive home Alex Uhlig, who had drawn a one-out walk, to provide the final margin.
Kaslon had three hits, while Mueller and Beard both had two apiece.
Wilcox went the distance on the mound and got the win, needing only 78 pitches in allowing only one run on two hits, while striking out four.
According to Columbus head coach Cody Schilling, his club was in control throughout the contest.
“We came out and played well,” Schilling said. “When we get good pitching, we can do some things.”
Waverly 7, Columbus 6
In Saturday’s first game, Columbus had Waverly right where it wanted the latter.
Kaslon was on the mound protecting a 6-4 lead with only three outs separating the Seniors from a Saturday sweep.
But it wasn’t meant to be, as Waverly tied the game, then won in walk-off fashion with two outs.
All this after Columbus has fought back from an early 3-1 first-inning deficit, scoring five runs in the fifth for a 6-4 lead.
Cade Fullner began the onslaught with a one-out triple, then scored on an Uhlig single.
Wilcox then banged a base hit to right and after Kaslon had grounded into a fielder’s choice, which left runners at the corners with two outs, Muller and Nitz hit consecutive RBI singles before Morse doubled to left, chasing home Mueller and Nitz.
Those were the final Columbus runs of the contest before it all went wrong in the seventh.
Wilcox was 2-for-3 to lead Columbus, while Kaslon went the distance on the mound, throwing 107 pitches in allowing seven runs on eight hits and striking out six.
“We played well enough to win,” said Schilling. “We had our chances to put the game away, but couldn’t, then we got off-script defensively a bit.”
Lincoln North 7, Columbus 5
In Sunday’s finale, once again Columbus was in position to win in the late innings, but once again victory slipped from their grasp in a 7-5 defeat.
The Seniors carried a 4-2 lead into the top of the sixth, when Lincoln struck for five runs to take a 7-4 lead, which would ultimately carry them to victory.
Schilling said his club was unable to put the hammer down when they had the chance early on.
“We didn’t continue to apply pressure,” he said. “It’s something which has to come from within each player to be able to take the fight out of a team when you have them down.”
Columbus had broken out on top with a single run in the bottom of the third to break open a scoreless game when Colby Gilson scored on an error for a 1-0 lead.
In the fifth, Kaslon tripled home Haden Jacobson and Fullner for a 3-2 Columbus lead.
Mueller then plated Kaslon with an RBI single, making it 4-2.
However, Lincoln would put up five runs over the next two frames to claim victory.
Beard was 2-for-4, while Mueller finished 2-for-3 with a double and a run batted in for Columbus.
On the mound, Tyler Wessel went 5 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on five hits before being relieved by Mueller, who went 1 2/3, giving up three runs on three hits.
Columbus (13-19) will next host Omaha North and Omaha Central in a pair of doubleheaders on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.
Scott Akanewich is the sports editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at email@example.com.