Apr. 3—NOBLESVILLE — Good baseball teams will capitalize when you give them too many opportunities.
Top-ranked Zionsville found that out the hard way on Friday afternoon against No. 4 Columbus North. The Bull Dogs drew nine walks and scored six times in the bottom of the sixth to put the game away, 11-5 over the Eagles.
"Columbus North is a very good team, and I think it was a situation where we came out and thought we were just going to walk through the game," Zionsville head coach Jered Moore said. "We had nine walks and when you put that many guys on base, especially to start an inning, guys are going to come across the plate. Our pitching needs to be a little better, and it will, when we play a good team like this."
Zionsville led 3-0 heading to the bottom of the third, scoring a run in the first on an error, one in the second on an RBI-single by Zach Nehlsen and a run in the third on an RBI single by Zach Bielecki.
But in the bottom of the third, momentum started to shift.
After Eagle starter Drew Dickson (3 IP, 2H, 1ER, 4K) got the first two batters out, but a walk and a hit batter kept the inning alive, before an RBI-single made it 3-1.
The Bull Dogs then took the lead in the fourth off reliever Jack Nelson, loading the bases without a hit and then taking a 4-3 lead on a fielders' choice, single and wild pitch.
Columbus North added an unearned run in the fifth to make it 5-3, then scored six runs on six hits and a hit batter in the sixth.
"I think some of the pitches found too much of the plate and that's fine, but our outfield has to make the plays," Moore said. "There were three balls out there that dropped where I thought we could have been out of the inning long before it got away. It was a combination of giving them pitches they could drive, and then us not being able to field them."
Bielecki was 3-for-4 for the Eagles, and Jensen was 2-for-4.
Zionsville is back in action in the consolation bracket of the Noblesville Invite, facing the host Millers at 10 a.m.
"I am interested to see how the guys respond to today, and with the mentality our guys have, I think they will be fine," Moore said. "It's better to have game like this now instead of in June. They just played better than we did tonight."
The Eagles scored twice in the top of the seventh, getting an RBI double from Evan Jensen and an RBI single by Brody Chrisman, but couldn't complete the comeback.
After scoring in the first three innings, the Eagles had nine-straight batters retired in the fourth, fifth and sixth before a lead-off single by Trey Firestone in the seventh.
"I think we could have worked the count a little better in those innings," Moore said. "Our guys had an at bat or two against their pitcher and we didn't wait for our pitch to drive and find the gap. He threw a complete game and his pitch count was pretty low, and what hurt us in those innings was not being patient enough and waiting for our pitch."
Will Willems is the Sports Editor of the Lebanon Reporter. Follow him on Twitter @Will_Willems.