CLYDE - For the second-straight game, Columbian got a dominant performance from its starting pitcher.
This time, the Tornadoes' batters did their part, too.
In the sectional semifinals at Clyde on Saturday, Nick Loura pitched a complete game shutout, carrying a no-hitter into the seventh inning. A single by Shelby's Grant Fenner leading off the final inning broke that up, but didn't change the end result. Loura allowed another hit in the inning, but finished the game by getting Alex Kaple looking. It was his 10th strikeout of the game, and the Tornadoes advanced to the sectional finals with an 8-0 victory.
The victory came two days after Loura's teammate, Daniel Wood, threw a six-inning no-hitter against Norwalk. But the Truckers scored two unearned runs in the first inning of that game, and won, 2-0. The loss cost the Tornadoes an outright NOL championship.
On Saturday, Columbian banged out 11 hits. The offense was paced by third baseman Tyler Fuhrer, who had went 3 for 3 with a triple and three RBIs.
"I thought it was a great approach from our hitters today," Columbian coach Curt Mellott said. "Obviously our defense stepped up and played solid today, and you can't ask for anything more out of the mound than we've had the last two (games), so that's been a real joy for us."
Columbian 8, Shelby 0
Shelby: Andrew Baird 1-0-0-0; Lukas Ousley 2-0-0-0; Lee Newmeyer 2-0-0-0; Garret Arnold 0-0-0-0; Joel Kissel 3-0-0-0; Grant Fenner 3-0-1-0; Tyler Young 0-0-0-0; Chaz Elliott 3-0-0-0; Chance Robinette 3-0-1-0; Austin Alt 0-0-0-0; Chuck Hebble 2-0-0-0; Justin Lewis 1-0-0-0; Alex Kaple 3-0-0-0; Cal VonStein 0-0-0-0. Totals: 23-0-2-0.
Columbian (14-6): Jonah Boyer 3-2-2-1; Nick Loura 3-0-0-0; Brad Craig 1-0-0-0; Tyler Fuhrer 3-1-3-3; Derec Blodget 0-0-0-0; Carter Mullins 4-1-1-0; Nate Hoyda 0-0-0-0; Mike Rohrbach 3-0-0-1; Logan Tracy 3-1-1-0; Daniel Wood 3-2-2-1; Bryce Lonsway 3-0-1-1; Vince Anway 2-1-1-0. Totals: 28-8-11-7.
Shelby 000 000 0 - 0
Columbian 211 004 X 8
WP - Loura. LP - VonStein.
3B - Fuhrer, Tracy (TC).
2B - Wood, Anway (TC).
Loura was masterful. He walked three and hit a batter, but faced only one real jam. That was in the third, when with Columbian up 3-0 and two down, Loura walked Andrew Baird and hit Lukas Ousley. An errant pickoff throw and a wild pitch put the runners at second and third with Lee Newmeyer at the plate. But Loura got Newmeyer to pop to shortstop Logan Tracy to end the threat.
"I just went out there and threw strikes," Loura said. "We have great players everywhere that I can trust on defense. I just try to get them the ball."
Columbian scored a pair of runs in the first. Fuhrer hit a sacrifice fly to score Jonah Boyer, then with Carter Mullins at second and two out, Michael Rohrbach flied to left, but Shelby outfielder Chuck Hebble dropped the ball in a swirling wind, and Mullins scored. In the bottom of the second, Wood singled, was moved to second on a Vince Anway bunt, then scored when Jonah Boyer ripped a single to center.
"Everybody was hitting pretty good, everybody's focused," Wood said. "It helps a lot when the whole team is in on it."
In the fourth, Columbian got another run after Fuhrer tripled to start the inning. Rohrbach's squeeze a batter later brought Fuhrer home.
In the bottom of the sixth, TC broke the game wide open with a four-run spurt. Tracy tripled to start the inning, then Wood doubled him home. After a wild pitch moved Wood to third, Lonsway grounded to short to score him and make it 6-0. Later in the inning, Fuhrer looped a two-run single to right to cap the scoring.
Fuhrer said Columbian has been playing well, and continued doing so Saturday.
"We play our hearts out," Fuhrer said. "We definitely want to go out and get that ring."
The Tornadoes (14-6) advance to play Clear Fork at 5 p.m. Tuesday back at Clyde.
Mellott was optimistic when asked whether he thought his team could make a run in the tournament.
"I thought we had a very nice draw for ourselves, things set up our way," Mellott said. "The boys were really excited, because they can see a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel.
"It's taken three years for them to realize their potential, and they have bought into that, and they're looking forward to making a very deep tournament run."