The Columbus United Federal Credit Union Junior Blues held a 1-0 advantage midway through Wednesday's game one of a doubleheader against Gretna, held the visitors without a single hit through the first three innings but then saw the game turn on a dime in the fourth and dropped a 6-3 final.
Caleb Van Dyke allowed one base runner on a walk through the first three frames, but retried every other Gretna hitter before running into trouble the second time through the order. The visitors scored twice in the fourth and four more times in the fifth.
CUFCU, after taking the initial lead in the second, scored twice more in the sixth, but fell short of a comeback and dropped to 16-13 on the season. It's the fifth loss in six games following a stretch in which the team had won 10 of 12.
Columbus took the lead when Tadan Bell started the second with a leadoff single. Bell stole second, moved to third on a ground ball then scored on a bad throw from the catcher trying to gun down Ryan Eickhoff after he got on board with a two-out walk.
It was Columbus' only run until the sixth. Gretna pitching retired the CUFCU lineup in order each of the next three innings.
But at the time, Van Dyke was cruising.
He walked one in the first with one out but left the runner stranded on fly ball and a grounder to short, set Gretna down 1-2-3 in the second on two fly balls and a strikeout and had another 1-2-3 frame in the third on two grounders and a fly ball.
Gretna took the lead away in the fourth with two runs on three hits and a walk. A bunt single broke up the no-hitter with one down and was followed by a double, single and another bunt, this time a squeeze, making it 2-1.
Gretna took control in the fifth with a leadoff single that stole two bases, a walk that stole one then a double that brought both across the plate making it 4-1. A hit batter then one-out single brought in the fifth run and put runners at the corners. A pickle between first and second allowed the runner at third to come across.
Colton Korth relieved Van Dyke after the RBI single and eventually ended the inning on the pickle and a line out to short.
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Columbus finally had the bats back in the fifth starting with Cody Zrust's lead off single, Drew Loosvelt's single, a Van Dyke single, Bell's one-out RBI single and a passed ball. CUFCU had the bases loaded and none out but only capitalized with the two runs. Van Dyke and Bell were left stranded.
Zrust's two-out single in the seventh was the last Columbus hope.
GAME 2, GRETNA 3, JUNIOR BLUES 2: Columbus again led early 1-0 through the first two innings but managed just three hits for the game, gave up the lead in the fifth and saw a seventh-inning comeback fall one run short.
Bell scored the first run after he was hit by a pitch then came around on a triple from Tyson Groene.
Gretna tied it in the fourth on a one-out single, two stolen bases then a ground out to the right side.
A leadoff single then one-out throwing error gave Gretna a 2-1 lead in the fifth. That error also came around and made it 3-1.
Columbus mounted a final comeback in the seventh with a one-out walk then a two-out hit batter and a Tanner Kobza single up the middle but the tying run was left on third after an infield pop up.
Bell took the tough-luck loss on six innings of work, four hits one earned run, two walks and nine strikeouts.
Peter Huguenin is a sports reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org