Center Grove batted around the lineup and scored five runs in the top of the first inning to set the stage for a dominating 27-1 win against Greenwood Christian Academy in the opening round of the Johnson County Baseball Tournament on Monday.
The Trojans, playing as the visitors on their home field, played nearly a perfect game in their home-opener. They committed only one error on a hard-hit ball and banged out 23 hits to claim their first win of the season.
“I was really happy with our approach to the game,” Center Grove coach Keith Hatfield said. “It’s really easy to come out here and try to hit home runs and play the game the wrong way, and I don’t think we did that. I was happy with our approach at the plate and our play in the field.”
Center Grove (1-2) wasted little time in jumping on Greenwood Christian starter Colton Crick. Bryce Eblin and Eli Lawyer-Smith each lashed RBI doubles and Corey Daffron, Ryan Sauter, Garrett Hill and A.J. Poynter each collected singles as the Trojans jumped out to a 5-0 lead.
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Center Grove added on runs from there, getting seven in the second to blow open the game, then three in the third and 10 in the fourth to turn it into a rout. The Trojans added two more runs in the top of the fifth.
Greenwood Christian (0-1), playing its first game of the season after taking most of spring break off, simply couldn’t keep up. The Cougars managed only three hits off Trojan starter Justin Tolle, and their one run, in the third, came thanks to a Center Grove error.
Despite the loss, Greenwood Christian coach Doug Hagist was upbeat. He knew that his small team would have a hard time keeping up with the powerful Trojans, and with just 11 available players, he was more than happy to use the game as a learning experience.
“Our mindset was that we are playing one of the biggest schools in Indiana and we’re one of the smallest schools. We’re in the county tournament, and we wanted to have fun,” Hagist said. “We had four errors, but they had 23 hits. Simply put, we got beat by a better team, and every one of us an handle that.”
Thirteen different players got a hit or scored a run in the game for Center Grove. Hill went 3 for 5 with a home run, a double and four RBIs while Daffron was 3 for 3 with two doubles, Poynter was 3 for 3 with two RBIs and Brian Gaffney was 3 for 5 with three doubles for the Trojans. Michael Wyman added a double and scored four runs.
Payton Modlin, Griffin Huizinga and Kegan Owen each collected a hit for the Cougars.
Tolle scattered three hits over five innings with three strikeouts and a walk to pick up the win. Crick was the first of five hurlers to take the hill for Greenwood Christian and suffered the loss.
Center Grove will face either Indian Creek or Greenwood in the county semifinals Saturday.