Columbus, Spalding split, play again for title

COLUMBUS -- Columbus and Spalding split their Class AAA championship series doubleheader in a demonstrative fashion, with each team beating up on each other and taking mercy-rule wins. The Jaguars won the first game 18-1 in six innings; Columbus avoided elimination by capturing the second game 12-2 in five innings.

A third and deciding contest will be played Tuesday at 4:30 p.m., with the Blue Devils the designated home team.

“Momentum is the most important thing in a series like this,” Spalding coach Mickey Moody said. “It snowballs and is contagious with hitters. It’s huge.

In the series opener, Spalding scored seven runs in the fifth inning and nine in the sixth to run out to a 18-0 lead. Columbus scored a run in the bottom of the sixth to avert a shutout, but could not come within the required 10 to extend the game.

Pitcher Casey Moody pitched a complete game two-hitter and homered for the Jaguars.

“It’s crazy,” Moody said about playing for a championship. “I’ve been dreaming about this since my freshman year in high school. It’s unbelievable.”

Little League World Series hero Kyle Carter started for Columbus, but was lifted after giving up eight runs in 4 1/3 innings.

The second game favored the Blue Devils, who scored six runs in the third inning, three in the fourth and three in the fifth. With the mercy rule looming, Spalding, trailing 12-1 at the time, pushed across a run in the bottom of the fifth but could not extend the game.

“We’re just glad to be in Game 3,” Columbus coach Bobby Howard said. “They were playing with house money after Game 1. Now, it comes down to one game.”

Columbus pitcher Will Solomon threw a complete game while Carter hit a three-run homer. Solomon looked cool and relaxed in the stifling heat, even with his team facing elimination.

“I got some experience in my sophomore and junior years pitching [in the championship series],” Solomon said. “We know what it’s like to play in a series like this.”

Good and bad.