Seniors lose opener in Elkhorn

July 8, 2018

An old adage in baseball is momentum is the next day’s starting pitcher.

On Friday, at the Elkhorn tournament, the Columbus Cornerstone Insurance Group Seniors were shut down by the opponent’s hurler in a 6-1 defeat to Westview.

In fact, Columbus managed only three hits, two by Jake Novicki, who was 2-for-4 on the day, including a solo homer in the fifth inning.

Unfortunately, the rest of the Seniors lineup was neutralized by Westside’s Tucker Hagan, who threw six innings while allowing only one run on two hits while striking out three.

According to Columbus head coach Cody Schilling, it wasn’t necessarily anything Hagan was doing particularly well on the mound, but rather his own hitters being a bit too aggressive.

“We were definitely a little overanxious at the plate,” Schilling said. “Also, too impatient.”

On the opposite side of the mound matchup was Jacob Morse, who was masterful in his last outing, a complete-game 9-1 home victory against Blair on June 29.

But this time around, Morse labored through 5 2/3 innings, throwing 107 pitches, while giving up nine hits and six runs before being relieved by Tyler Wessel in the sixth.

Wood bats were being used exclusively for the tournament, which changed the game a bit from both ends of the 60 feet, six inches between the mound and the plate, Schilling said.

“Before the game, I told Jacob (Morse) to just throw strikes and let them get themselves out,” he said. “With wood bats, you really have to square it up and hit it hard.”

On the other hand, his hitters had to stick with the usual game plan, said Schilling.

“You can’t change your swing for fear of getting jammed and breaking a bat,” he said. “You see it at the major-league level where guys break bats – it happens.”

Following a scoreless first inning, Westside broke out on top with a single run in the second for a 1-0 advantage on an error by Columbus first baseman Trevor Kaslon, after a grounder hit down the line hit the base and spun away.

In the third, Columbus threatened to tie the game when Novicki banged a two-out single to right, then advanced to second when Alex Uhlig was hit by a pitch.

Cole Wilcox reached on an error to load the bases, bring Kaslon to the plate with a chance to blow the game open.

But after running the count to 3-2, Hagan caught Kaslon looking for a called strike three, ending the threat.

Westside added another run in the fourth before putting the game away with another three in the fifth for a 5-1 lead, then a final marker in the sixth, which provided the margin of victory.

Westside’s Declan Cain went 3-for-4, including a triple and a pair of runs batted in, while Logan Mueller had the only other Columbus hit.

Next for Columbus (12-17) are the final two pool games against Waverly at 3 p.m. and Millard Sox at 5:30 p.m. today.

Despite the loss in the opener, Schilling said he’s optimistic his club can still win the pool and move on to the semifinals.

“We still have a lot to play for,” he said. “We just have to be more patient at the plate and not swing for the fences.”

Scott Akanewich is the sports editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at scott.akanewich@lee.net.

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