From a sweep to a flip
Only one team can hold the No.1 seed.
So comes the tiebreaker. Columbia’s fate will be left to a coin flip.
Tied with five conference wins each, Gainesville and Columbia will call heads or tails, and the winner earns the chance to host next month’s District 3 tournament.
The Tigers like their chances. They would love to defend their district title in their own backyard for a second straight year.
“I think it’s huge,” Columbia coach Heath Phillips said. “I think it’s cool to have the different set of fans come out. We have great community support, especially in big games like that. The fans always come out. And that’s what the kids want — to play in front of big crowds.”
Regardless of their unknown future, the Tigers relished the victory after dismantling district rival Middleburg in a decisive doubleheader (10-5, 10-2) Friday night.
The Tigers cruised to back-to-back wins and accomplished one of the lofty season goals set for them months ago: Clinch the No.1 seed.
“Coming into the season, that was our goal,” Phillips said. “No.1 seed and [hopefully] host throughout – that’s what we needed.”
The contagious batting Columbia (8-6, 5-1) displayed (in Game 2) against Gainesville continued seven days later in Game 1 facing other district foe Middleburg (3-12, 0-6) Friday afternoon.
Both teams were knotted 3-3 before the Tigers exploded for seven runs in the fifth inning, holding on for a 10-5 victory.
Columbia pitcher Harrison Shubert wasn’t at his best but his teammates’ insurance runs overshadowed his vanilla performance in Game 1.
The Tigers wouldn’t need much from pitcher Tyler Myrick, either, in Game 2.
Columbia’s ace tallied five strikeouts in six innings of work, but the difference maker would again be the Tigers’ damage at the plate.
The Tigers didn’t score in the fifth inning yet scored in every other inning of Game 2.
Columbia never trailed during the game as the Broncos went silent at the plate, stifled after scoring two runs in the second inning.
The Tigers have now won three straight games.
With the district schedule finished and spring break looming, Columbia’s baseball team is getting ready for a vacation.
Well, not quite. Perhaps it will be more of a business trip.
The Tigers are heading to the coast to play in the Fernandina Beach Diamond Classic on March 24-26.
Columbia is set to face solid teams in Deltona, Fernandina Beach and Columbine (Colo.)
“We’re still working,” Phillips said. “Since I’ve been here, we’ve been giving them spring break off. And we’ve come back rusty. I just want to keep the rust off and keep them going. They’re playing really good ball right now.”