DELPHOS — Getting ahead in the count is a big key to success in baseball.
Columbus Grove was successful at doing just that Thursday night at Delphos Jefferson in Northwest Conference action.
Bulldogs pitcher Trey Roney (4-1) used a variety of breaking balls that he threw for strikes to keep the Wildcats off-balance most of the game. The end result was a 14-3 six-inning run-rule win for the Bulldogs that found them tied atop the standings in the NWC.
Grove (14-2 overall, 4-0 NWC) plays host to Crestview (10-3, 6-0) today in a makeup game. The Bulldogs and Knights are the lone unbeatens in the conference after Bluffton knocked off LCC on Thursday. Grove plays host to LCC on Monday while Crestview travels to LCC on Thursday.
At Jefferson on Thursday, Columbus Grove exploded offensively, scoring in every inning and pounding out 16 hits in the contest.
Jefferson (13-7, 2-4 NWC) used three pitchers in an effort to slow down the Bulldogs with little success. Zach Ricker (3-2) went two-plus innings, Jordan Herron threw three-plus innings and Ross Thompson also pitched as the trio each took cracks at the Columbus Grove offensive attack.
The Bulldogs jumped out to a 2-0 lead when their first three hitters — Blake Hoffman, Brandon Benroth and Matt Jay — singled to start the game. Jay’s hit was good for a run batted in and Roney drove in the second run with a sacrifice fly.
Besides a masterful performance on the mound, Roney collected three hits and drove in four runs in the game.
Columbus Grove never let up as it scored two more runs in the second followed by single runs in the third and fourth. The Bulldogs then added two more runs in the fifth before exploding for six runs in the sixth.
Delphos Jefferson did get eight hits off Roney and Xavier Buzzard hit a long two-run home run for the Wildcats in the fourth inning. Austin Jettinghoff and Herron both had two hits to lead the Jefferson offense.
Hoffman had two hits for the Bulldogs while Benroth had two, Jay three, Roney three, Kody Griffith two and number-nine hitter Mason Smith also had three hits and three RBI’s.
Second baseman Josh Verhoff had an oddity at the plate as he walked three times and was hit by a pitch in his fourth at-bat.
“They are a very experienced and solid hitting team,” Jefferson coach Doug Geary said of Columbus Grove. “We got behind in the count all night and we had some hits, just not enough against them.”
Columbus Grove coach Cory King was pleased with the effort of Roney.
“He (Roney) did a great job of getting ahead in the count; he is a smart, cerebral pitcher who hits the corners and changes speeds.” King said. “Tonight it all came together and we got the key hits.”
Columbus Grove's Trey Roney