By Doug Gorman
The first four innings of Friday night's baseball game between North Clayton and Ola was an old-fashion pitchers' duel between the Eagles' Justin Brown and the Mustangs' Mike Venturelli.
With both pitchers displaying command of the strike zone, the Region 4-AAAA battle stayed scoreless until the fifth inning.
Finally after struggling to find any sort of offense early in the game, Ola sent nine men to the plate in the bottom half of the fifth, scored three times thanks to some help from the bottom of the order and escaped with a 3-0 victory in the Region 4-AAAA contest.
Ola coach Ryan Parejko wasn't surprised his team found itself in a close contest against North Clayton.
"We know teams are going to bring their A-game every time they play us," he said. "Last year, we kind of snuck up on some people. We can't do that this year. The bull's eye is on us this time, and our guys know that."
DeCota Cole started the fifth-inning fireworks off for Ola with a single. After Cody Adkins reached on a base hit, C.J. McDowell picked up the first RBI of the game, bringing Cole around on a sacrifice fly.
Neal Gandee then delivered a base hit to score Adkins. Ola added the final run of the game when Bobby Woodall drove in Gandee with a fielder's choice.
The victory extended the Mustangs' winning streak to nine games, and pushed their record to 9-1 overall and 2-0 in region play. N orth Clayton dropped to 4-4 overall and 0-2 in region play.
Brown set down the first six Ola batters in order with five coming after strikeouts
Venturell struckout four through the first two innings for the Mustangs, but North Clayton was able to coax a couple of hits as Brown reached in the first and Alex Johnson in the second.
The Mustangs didn't put their first base runners on board until the third inning when Cole reached on a base hit, and Gandee walked, but both base runners were left stranded.
At one stretch Venturelli struckout four batters in a row.
He finished the game with 13 strikeouts through six innings. Bobby Woodall came into the contest in relief in the seventh and added three more strikeouts for Ola to give them 16 for the game.
"Our defense and pitching is fine," said North Clayton coach Doug Henry. "We have to start doing a better job hitting the ball if we are going to be in games. If we can start hitting, we can play with anybody."
Brown finished with six strikeouts for North Clayton.