Columbus pitching dominated Grand Island hitters, only allowed two hits in two games and the Cornerstone Insurance Seniors left Grand Island with a doubleheader sweep on Wednesday night, 3-0 and 3-1.
The combination of Brent Beard, Tyler Wessel and Trey Kobza shutout Grand Island Home Federal in game one. Beard started and went 4 and 1/3, walked four but allowed just one hit.
Wessel took over with one out in the fifth and runners at the corners. He ended the threat on a fly out and strikeout.
Kobza came on in the seventh, had to work around two errors and a walk, but stranded runners at second and third for the save.
A Beard single in the third scoring Kobza, Derek Smejkal sac fly scoring Tyler Palmer later in the inning and Kobza RBI single scoring Colby Gilson in the fifth provided all the offense Columbus would need.
Coach Cody Schilling had planned to start Cole Wilcox, but when some lingering soreness from the night before in Hastings remained, he went with Johnny Wholestaff instead. Beard set the tone. His replacements kept it going in the innings that followed.
"We decided on Brent and we're going to limit his pitches, and then he was pitching well enough that we decided, 'Let's go with it a little bit here,'" Schilling said. "He wasn't stupendous, but he did enough to keep them off balance.
"Then Tyler came in and did exactly what we wanted him to do, and Kobza shut them down in the last inning. It was awesome."
Both pitching staffs shut out the other side through the first six innings in game two, both sides scored a seventh-inning run forcing extra frames but Columbus added two in the eighth for the game two victory.
CJ Fleeman went all eight for Cornerstone, needing just 79 pitches, striking out three and allowing one earned.
"He kept them off balance," Schilling said. "It was like he was hitting their bats with what he wanted to hit them with. They had a lot of fly balls and a lot of weak ground balls.
"Even I was surprised. I turned to my coaches in the fifth inning and asked, 'How many pitches has he thrown?' and somebody goes, '38.' He just did a great job of keeping them off balance, he was all over the zone and he made them swing at the pitches he wanted."
Eric Mustard singled in Cade Fullner in the seventh. Grand Island answered on two errors in the bottom half.
Smejkal and Evan Bock then started the eighth with back-to-back singles. Smejkal came around to score on an error followed by an RBI from Gilson.
Cornerstone committed another error beginning the eighth. Fleeman responded with fly out, line out and fielder's choice.
Columbus is now 9-8 ahead of a tournament this weekend in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
"Grand Island had a kid on the mound who was probably their ace. He shut us down in the spring. Hard thrower with a hard slider, slurve kind of a pitch. He really kind of stuck us pretty good in the spring," Schilling said. "He was pretty good again. But we were patient, took our walks when we could and seemed to find hits at the right times in the second game."
Nate Tenopir is the sports editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org