Any momentum Norfolk might have picked up with a win Tuesday was erased Wednesday evening by Columbus pitchers.
Led by Brent Beard, who threw the first three innings, Columbus pitchers limited Norfolk to four hits and defeated the Norfolk Nucor Steel Seniors 6-0 at Veterans Memorial Field.
In four of the seven innings, Norfolk batters were retired in order.
Columbus Coach Cody Schilling said his team felt it had a lot to prove after having been beaten Tuesday evening by Kearney because of the mercy rule.
“We knew Norfolk was much improved and I told our team, ‘Don’t show up like that tonight or we’ll get whipped.’ We made sure that we were ready to play the game and then everything kind of took care of itself,” he said.
Columbus, 6-4, got timely hits and made several fielding plays, including two double plays.
Schilling said his team has worked hard on defense and pitching this season.
“We can hit the ball decently, but we have decided if we’re to stay in games, we have to pitch well and play defense. If we don’t do that, we’re in for a long night because our offense sometimes doesn’t show up,” he said.
Norfolk coach Bladen Bales said it was a disappointing evening, especially after the team gained a split against Grand Island.
“When we got to the field today, I thought our in and out (practice) was a little lackadaisical,” Bales said. “After that win against Grand Island, I expected a little more excitement, especially considering we have another big tournament this weekend in Yankton.”
“I told them I didn’t like their body language and lackluster effort,” Bales added. “Not to take anything away from Columbus because that’s a good team, but we didn’t do what we are capable of doing today.”
Starting pitcher Carter Faltys kept Norfolk close through the first four innings before being lifted. Norfolk also turned two double plays early, but then committed three errors later in the game.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Norfolk had its best chance at scoring by loading the bases with just one out. But Norfolk’s next two hitters struck out.
“In a big situation like that, we have to be looking to hit. We got a little bit where we were looking to walk instead of stepping up and getting the big hit. That kind of killed us. The momentum was never on our side today,” Bales said.
Nolan Strand pitched the final inning for Norfolk, striking out two of the three batters he faced. Hunter Clouse and Brett O’Brien also pitched.
Another bright spot for Norfolk was centerfielder Jesus Baez, who collected two hits and stole a base.
“He hasn’t played organized baseball for a few years and lives in Madison where they don’t have a Seniors team, so he asked to come play for us. He plays with passion and he plays with heart. He understands the game and he’s going to give it his all,” Bales said.
Baez, who often hops around or takes wide turns on the bases, looks like he is always trying to draw a throw when he is on the base paths.
“He’s a sparkplug for us,” Bales said. “He hasn’t been in this program before. Sometimes I think people in this program think we are going to just lay down. Our guys can learn a lot from a guy like him. He is always having fun and playing hard.”
Norfolk, 3-7, plays Friday and Saturday in a tournament in Yankton, with a possibility of also playing on Sunday.
Columbus 020 022 0 — 6 10 1
Norfolk 000 000 0 — 0 4 3
WP: Brent Beard LP: Carter Faltys 2B: COL Evan Bock.