COLUMBUS — The Columbus Northern Little League team jumped out to a big lead early and coasted to a 9-2 victory over Warner Robins on Sunday in the state tournament for the major baseball division.
Kobie Buglioli hit a three-run homer to right field in the first inning to give Northern a 3-0 lead. It was one of three homers Northern hit in the game.
Northern added a pair of runs in the second. Zac Cravens led off with a home run to left field. An out later, Jalen Latta doubled to left center. He stole third. After another out, Jacob Pate singled up the middle to drive in Latta for a 5-0 lead.
Pate started and went three scoreless innings to earn the win. He allowed three hits and struck out six.
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“We played good, got timely hits in key at-bats,” Northern manager Randy Morris said. “(Monday) we have to play hard and smart and see what happens.”
The format for the tournament has the 10 teams split into two pools. Each team plays the other four teams in its pool during a five-day period that ends Wednesday. The top two teams in each pool advance to a single-elimination final four with the semifinals Thursday and the championship game Friday.
Northern is 1-0 in Pool B, while Warner Robins is 1-1. Northern plays Brooks at 7:30 p.m. Monday. Warner Robins plays Martinez-Evans at 5:30 p.m.
Sunday’s games in the tournament, which is being hosted by American Little League (Double Churches Road), were played in temperatures in the upper 90s.
Warner Robins didn’t get on the scoreboard until the bottom of the fifth. Dalton Gilliam reached when he was hit by a pitch with two outs. He later scored on Drew Martens’ single up the middle.
Northern blew the game open with four runs in the top of the sixth. Pinch-hitter Matthew Lang led off with a homer to left field. After Blake Hicks was hit by a pitch and Pate singled, Brandon Pugh, who went 3-for-4, doubled in both runners with a shot to left field.
Knox Carter walked and Buglioli was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Troy Gilliland singled in Northern’s final run for 9-1 lead.
Logan Byrd hit a homer to lead off the bottom of the sixth for Warner Robins.
Pate and Latta had two hits apiece for Northern.
Warner Robins’ Jake Fromm, who hit two homers in Saturday’s win over Brooks, missed Sunday’s game with an injured hand.