Colts top Celtics on the diamond

North Marion beats Trinity Catholic for 12th win in a row

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Posted April 21, 2023 | By Mark Pinson
Special To The Ocala Gazette
Photos By Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette

North Marion right-hander Hunter Jones allowed one hit in five innings, and first baseman Jake Tompkins belted a two-run homer to pace the Colts to a 9-4 win over Trinity Catholic on Friday night.

The win was the 12th in a row for North Marion, which improved to an impressive 19-4, and it gave the Colts, the second-ranked team in the state in Class 4A, a season sweep of the Celtics.

“Hunter threw a great five innings for us,” said North Marion coach Dale Hall. “It was a tough night for him because we had two or three innings that were 30 minutes plus and for a pitcher to sit around that long makes it extremely tough, but I’m happy with his effort. Our guys do a really good job of getting on base and we really value quality at-bats and getting on any way we can. We got guys that can flat-out swing it and I love our offense one through nine.”

The loss dropped Trinity Catholic, which had a three-game winning streak snapped, to 15-7 on the season. Junior Mekai Griffin allowed only two hits but issued a pair of walks, hit four batters and gave up six runs in his 3 2/3 innings of work to take the loss.

“Mekai was just a little off tonight,” said Trinity Catholic coach Tommy Bond III. “He was getting behind in the count and struggled getting his second pitch over for a strike. That’s a bad combination against teams that can swing it a little bit. The one positive from this game is we didn’t roll over and quit and continued to battle.”

Griffin breezed through the first two innings but ran into trouble in the top of the third inning. Sam Cauthen was hit by a pitch, Cooper Jones walked and Karson Lindsey was hit by a Griffin curveball to load the bases with two outs.

Ross Ray drilled a double to right-center field to score Cauthen and Jones with Lindsey moving to third base. Griffin uncorked a wild pitch allowing Lindsey to score and Tompkins followed with a two-run blast over the right-field fence to give the Colts a 5-0 lead.

Hunter Jones, who issued a pair of walks and struck out five in five-plus innings, retired the first 15 Trinity Catholic batters in commanding fashion.

North Marion, which had five hits, tacked on a run in the fourth inning on a sacrifice fly RBI by Rowan Quartararo to increase its lead to 6-0.

Hunter Jones lost control of the strike zone s in the sixth inning with three hit batters, two walks and a base hit by Ryan Young to break up the no-hitter.

Karson Smith came on in relief for the Colts and allowed another run to cross the plate but the right-hander retired the next three hitters to keep North Marion on top by a score of 9-4 heading to the final inning.

North Marion brought in Eli Blair to close the game out and the junior retired the Class 3A Celtics to seal the victory for the Colts.

“Very happy with Karson for getting out of a very difficult situation in the sixth inning,” coach Hall said. “And Eli for coming in and throwing strikes in the seventh. I think we’re extremely dangerous. but you can’t count on hitting every single night. We’ve got to be able to pitch it and play defense if we want to end up where we want to end up.”

North Marion is back in action on Thursday with a home game against Belleview, while Trinity Catholic plays its regular season finale at Union County (Lake Butler).

The postseason begins next week for both teams.

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