Friday night’s first-round matchup in the Class A Area 6 Senior Baseball Tournament featured Norfolk’s Lammers Trailers/Elkhorn Valley Bank Seniors, the No. 5 seed in the tournament, and fourth-seeded Columbus Post 84.
The two teams, which Norfolk coach Darrel Bradley described as “very similar,” each put a pair of first-inning runs on the scoreboard, creating a 2-2 tie that lasted three innings.
But then Columbus took advantage of Norfolk mistakes during the fourth and sixth innings to pull away to an 8-3 win.
The loss sends Norfolk into a 3 p.m. game in the losers bracket against an opponent to be determined.
“We came out and were ready to play, we were excited, and I think the boys were performing well,” Bradley said. “We were putting the ball in play; we certainly did that early.”
Norfolk opened the game with its first six batters making contact, a start that produced two runs on three hits.
Leadoff batter Jack Borgmann dropped a flare into short right field and later scored on Brayden Lammers’ RBI single down the third-base line. Nolan Strand promptly brought Lammers home with a single up the middle.
However, Columbus responded with two runs of its own in the bottom of the inning, benefiting from a hit batsman — who then scored all the way from first on a Norfolk throwing error — and an RBI double to establish a 2-2 tie that lasted until the fourth inning.
Although Norfolk escaped third-inning danger when Columbus loaded the bases with the help of another hit batsman and a pair of walks, another error — this one a fielding miscue — and another hit batsman contributed to another bases-loaded opportunity for Columbus in the fourth.
After Colin Flyr drove in one Columbus run with a liner to left, Bradley replaced starter Hudson Waldo with Colton Price on the mound, but Kaden Young’s sacrifice fly added another run for a 4-2 lead before the Norfolk defense wrapped up the inning.
Meanwhile, Norfolk saw potential run-scoring innings in the second and fourth cut short when runners were thrown out attempting to advance.
A Norfolk come-from-behind effort began with a run in the fifth, when a double to right by Price scored Jaydin Bartling, who had reached on a double of his own. That cut the deficit to 4-3.
Unfortunately, those hopes were dashed when Columbus blew the game open with a three-hit, four-run sixth inning that featured an RBI double by Flyr.
Flyr, a lefthander who pitched all seven innings for Columbus, registered just two strikeouts — one in the sixth and the other in the seventh — but walked just two batters while allowing six Norfolk hits.
“We’ve seen him during the season; he’s right around the plate,” Bradley said. “He’s a good pitcher who throws strikes — and that’s what we needed was to throw strikes.”
Norfolk’s throwers — Waldow, Price and Colby Nelson — combined to strike out three while giving up six hits, but five walks and three hit batsmen provided Columbus with baserunners throughout the game.
“We tested their arms a couple times and lost, and that’s on me,” Bradley said. “But we struggled with throwing strikes today; a lot of those runs were after two-out walks, two-out beaned batters. That also puts your defense on its heels, so then they get a groundball and boot it. We had a couple errors today that were untimely.”
“They capitalized on those mistakes of ours, and that’s the name of the game,” he said. “We’ll have to fight our way out of the losers bracket and see what happens.”
Norfolk 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 — 3 6 3
Columbus 2 0 0 2 0 4 x — 8 6 0
WP: Colin Flyr
LP: Hudson Waldo
—2B: (N) Jaydin Bartling, Colton Price; (C) Trey Kobza, Flyr