COLUMBUS GROVE — The Lima Central Catholic baseball team has a new bunch of fans rooting for them, namely coach Cory King and his Columbus Grove baseball team.
The Bulldogs knocked off the visiting T-Birds 6-0 Monday night in Northwest Conference action and are now pulling for LCC to knock off league-leading Crestview when the T-Birds play host to the Knights on Thursday.
Crestview (8-0 NWC) stayed unbeaten in the NWC with a 4-3 victory over Delphos Jefferson on Monday in a 12-inning thriller. Columbus Grove (16-3) is right behind Crestview in the NWC league chase with a 5-1 record while LCC (12-9) was eliminated from title contention, falling to 6-2 in NWC play.
A gutsy pitching performance by Columbus Grove sophomore Elisha Jones, and one swing off right-fielder Brady Shafer’s bat propelled the Bulldogs to the big win over LCC.
“Coach told me over the weekend I would be pitching this game, and I was pretty excited,” Jones said. “I was in focus today and had really good control of my fastball and curve.”
Jones (2-1) was never really in trouble as he held the T-Birds to five hits while striking out eight. The closest LCC got to scoring was when it started the sixth inning with back-to-back singles by Sam Huffman and Drew Jennings to begin the inning.
But Jones retired the next three hitters on two infield pop-ups before ending the potential rally with a strikeout.
The Bulldogs (16-3, 5-1 NWC) struck in the bottom of the first after LCC starter Nick Watkins retired the first two Columbus Grove hitters. Catcher Matt Jay then singled and clean-up hitter Trey Roney walked. The left-handed hitting Shafer then crushed a no-doubt dinger to right field that easily cleared the fence and gave the Bulldogs a 3-0 lead that they would never relinquish.
“It jumped off the barrel. I’ve kind of been in a slump so hopefully that is a sign of good things to come,” Shafer said. “We’re all rooting for LCC Thursday against Crestview.”
Watkins settled down and allowed only one hit the rest of the way but the damage had been done. Columbus Grove added three innings in the fourth thanks to three LCC errors.
“We have been falling behind lately, we made a mistake and they took advantage of it so give Shafer credit,” LCC coach John Schnieders said. “We have got to get over the fact that we have some guys dinged up, we still have things to play for so I’m looking for my guys to step up.”
King was quick to praise his players and announce his new favorite NWC team.
“We are rooting for LCC Thursday, that’s for sure,” King said. “My sophomore pitcher (Jones) will remember this game for the rest of his life. Matt Jay got that big two-out hit and next thing you know, over the wall she went. I almost didn’t start Shafer because he’s been fighting a sore elbow.”
Columbus Grove Bulldog pitcher Elisha Jones