North Marion eases past Trinity Catholic on the diamond

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Posted March 31, 2023 | By Mark Pinson/Special To The Ocala Gazette
Photos By Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette

North Marion outfielder Ross Ray belted a two-run homer as part of a three-hit night and Michael Long blasted a solo home run to back a gutty, five-inning, three-hit pitching performance by senior Hunter Jones to pace the Colts to an 8-5 win over Trinity Catholic on Friday night.

The victory improved North Marion, which overcame an uncharacteristic four errors, to 11-4 on the season.

“It was nice to see the home runs because we’ve been struggling at the plate the last couple of games,” said Colts coach Dale Hall. “Hunter didn’t have his normal stuff tonight but he grinded out five innings for us. I’m extremely happy with how he handled the adversity and that’s what makes him so great. Lately we’ve been playing great defense and not swinging it very well but that’s baseball.”

The loss dropped Trinity Catholic, which brought the go-ahead run to the plate in the final inning after trailing by five runs, to 12-5 overall.

“I’m proud of the kids for the way they battled and fought all the way to the last pitch,” said Celtics coach Tommy Bond. “North Marion is a good team and took advantage of their opportunities and we didn’t and that’s a little disappointing. You can’t strike out 14 times with nine of them looking. We have to be more competitive against a quality arm.”

Pitching dominated the first three innings before North Marion broke through in the bottom of the fourth inning against Trinity Catholic junior right-hander Drew Meyer.

Karson Lindsey ripped a leadoff double to left-center field and scored after Meyer uncorked back-to-back wild pitches. Jake Tompkins walked and Ray hammered a high arching drive over the centerfield fence. Long followed with a long home run to left field to give the Class 4A Colts a 4-0 lead.

Trinity Catholic took advantage of a hit batter, two hits and a pair of North Marion errors to plate three runs in the top of the fifth inning off Jones, who allowed three hits and struck out eight.

North Marion, which banged out nine hits, went back to work in the bottom of the frame as catcher Bobby Gottuso worked a bases-loaded walk to force in a run.

Trinity Catholic brought in Ryan Young in relief of Meyer and Sam Cauthen lined a two-run single up the middle to give the Colts a commanding 8-3 lead.

North Marion brough in Lindsey to replace Jones to start the sixth inning and the senior left-hander breezed through the Celtics lineup.

The Colts had a chance to increase their lead in the bottom of the sixth, but Meyer escaped a jam to keep Trinity Catholic in the game.

Trinity Catholic, which had five hits, rallied in the top of the seventh inning behind a pair of walks, a hit batter, an error and a base hit to trail 8-5 with two outs and the bases loaded.

But Lindsey, a senior left-hander, bore down to strike out the next Celtics batter to end the threat and the game.

“That rally was something we definitely didn’t want to see with a five-run lead,” coach Hall said. “Credit Karson for bowing his neck and getting that last out for us in a pressure situation. I’m also happy for our hitters that we were able to get out in front of some baseballs and I hope that continues for us.”

North Marion hosts Lumpkin High School out of Georgia on Tuesday, while Trinity Catholic is back in action on Tuesday night with a road game at Union County.

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