LINCOLN — A five-run first inning was followed by two in the second, two in the third, three in the fourth and three in the fifth as Cole Camp opened district play with a 15-5 win over Lincoln on Monday.
The Bluebirds jumped out to a 7-0 lead before Lincoln broke through with three runs in the top of the third but could not stop the Bluebirds from scoring.
“(We were) just making contact and putting the ball in play,” said Cole Camp’s Zachary Craig.
It was Craig that capped off the rally in the first inning, getting all of a fastball and sending it over the left-centerfield fence for his first home run of the season, a two-run shot.
“I was just looking to drive it and get on base,” he said.
Cole Camp opened the inning with back-to-back singles from Zachary Fox and Holt Wroten. A wild pitch and an error scored the first two runs. Tyler Ward followed with a bloop single to score Koby Knievel.
“We were focusing this week on putting balls in play,” said Cole Camp coach Todd Rusk. “Their starter threw good fastballs and we were able to hit them. We focused on contact, contact, contact. I’m awful proud of them.”
Cole Camp added to the lead in the second when a single from Connor Balke scored Fox and a single from Knievel scored Reece Henning.
Balke pitched for Cole Camp and came away with a complete game win, striking out five and issuing two walks. He allowed a two-out bloop single to Corbin Mertgen in the first, but picked him off. He then worked a one-two-three second.
“He’s a senior back from a district championship team last year,” Rusk said. “Connor knows how to pitch in a big-game situation. He’s been there. He’s been there a couple of times. He had a couple of shaky innings, but we’ll take that.”
Lincoln broke through in the third. A groundout scored Sam Hinrich. Brannigan Roark scored from third on a wild pitch and Connor Spunaugle caught Cole Camp napping with a steal of home.
Spunaugle went 2 for 3 in the game. His single to lead off the fifth was followed by a Mason Sanders ground-rule double. Sanders scored when Devyn Strathman singled.
“We scored a few runs, we just couldn’t score enough of them,” said Lincoln coach Will Lynde. “Errors really hurt us and a few mental mistakes kind of sealed the deal.”
After Strathman started the game and struggled, Mergen came on in relief for Lincoln, getting out of the second inning before Cole Camp got to him in the third.
“He’s got good velocity,” Lynde said. “He can throw it right past a lot of kids. He threw on Friday so he’s looking at two days rest and his velocity probably wasn’t there.”
Lincoln finishes its season 6-14.
Cole Camp (9-12) will face Skyline in the district championship game at 5 p.m. Wednesday.