COLUMBIA TWP. — One night after going nine innings and cranking out 15 hits in a win over Clearview to stay in the hunt for the Patriot Athletic Conference Stripes Division title, the Columbia Raiders were at it again Thursday.
The Raiders pounded out 12 hits in eight innings, and it was junior John Cordell who provided the biggest — and last — hit of the night. Cordell’s two-out single into left field brought in Jacob Simon in the bottom half of the eighth to give the Raiders a 5-4 win over the Longhorns and at least a share of the Patriot Athletic Conference Stripes Division championship. Columbia can win its second straight PAC Stripes title with a win over Brooklyn on Monday.
Two nights, two extra-inning games and two big wins had Columbia (11-11 overall, 10-5 PAC) coach Justin Ramsey praising his team.
“The guys really showed what they are made of the last 24 hours,” said Ramsey, whose team won 4-3 Wednesday. “We struggled in the beginning of the season with our hitting, but they have bounced back in a big way. We had two must-win games and we produced at the plate both nights.
“Lutheran West is a very good baseball team and they didn’t give us anything tonight. We earned this one.”
Simon led off the eighth inning with a single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Kevin Simon. Jacob Kleinhenz walked to put runners on first and second with Michael Boey at the plate.
Boey’s grounder to shortstop CJ Griffin allowed Simon to advance to third as the Longhorns (10-9, 9-6) went for the double play. Kleinhenz was out at second, but Boey beat the throw to first.
Cordell, who beat out a bunt for a single in the seventh, ripped a shot into the hole between third baseman Eric Szczepinski and Griffin to bring in Simon as the Columbia players poured out of the dugout.
“I just did what I needed to get the hit,” said Cordell, who was given the game ball by Ramsey. “I was looking for a fastball and I got it. I’ve never been in that situation before, but my teammates kept telling me there was no pressure.
“So I felt pretty relaxed up there.”
“This was awesome,” said Simon, who had the winning single against Clearview the night before. “I thought we were going to win it in the seventh, but their pitcher (Greg Kunze) made a great play on a line drive. We kept our heads together, stayed focus and just got it done.
“John’s hit was about as clutch as it gets.”
Cordell’s hit came after the Raiders narrowly missed closing it out in the seventh. With two outs and the bases loaded, Beau Pojman lined out to Kunze.
Lutheran West scored first with a run in the second, but Columbia rallied in the bottom half of the inning with four singles and three runs. Lutheran West came back in the sixth with three runs to go up 4-3, but Columbia answered with a RBI single by Simon to tie the game at 4.
“This is one of those games that could have gone either way,” Lutheran West coach Trey Lamb said. “The lead went back and forth a few times and they got the hit they needed to win it. We played a good game but (Columbia) was able to get the run before we did.”
Contact Hans Schneider at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.