Last weekend the Columbus Senior Babe Ruth baseball team more or less cruised through the state championship tournament in Liberal, Kan. This is not only the first state championship for Columbus, but also the first time the local Babe Ruth program has sent a team to regionals.
Columbus won their first game over Salina 14-4 but then dropped the second to Lakin 14-11.
“We won our first one and lost the second and won the rest,” player Taylor Spear said. “We knew it was business after that. We just had a few too many errors”
“I think that’s probably the best thing that happened to us, our defense was solid after that,” Head Coach Jason Boyes said.
“That kinda woke us up,” he said. “We realized we were the only ones there who could beat us.”
Columbus cruised through the rest of the tournament, demolishing every opponent they faced. They defeated Junction City 12-2, took down Haysville 19-1, beat Lakin 15-1 in a rematch and then, because Coffeyville had yet to lose a game in the double elimination tournament, had to face them twice. The scores were 11-4 and 15-3. They are now 40-1 going into regional play in Charleson, Mo. Play starts Friday.
As a team Columbus combined for 97 total runs during the tournament while giving up only 29 — roughly half of those in their one loss.
Spear said he thinks they have a shot at nationals.
“I don’t think we’ll have a whole lot of trouble competing,” he said. “If we come out swinging the bats like we did at state I think we can go head-to-head with anybody.”
Boyes said in addition to an outstanding offense, his team has depth and pitching going for it as well.
“Our pitching is like nothing I’ve ever seen,” he said. “I’ve got eight guys who can come in anytime and throw strikes and get people out, not just throw it up there.
Boyes said being able to attract players from area towns helps as well.
“Throughout the season we try to get everybody in the game and even our ‘second string’ is solid,” he said. “When we get to pull guys from Southeast, Riverton and Galena we’re pretty solid all the way through the lineup.”
The first matchup for Columbus, now the Kansas team, will be against Minnesota.
Boyes said they’ve obviously never seen the team before so they’ll have little in the way of scouting to plan with.
“I think we’re just going to have to play it (by ear),” he said.