Columbus baseball made quite the statement in the opening round of the GHSA 4-AAAA State Playoffs Wednesday evening, sweeping Howard.
Historic pitching performances from the arms of Will Nobles (12) and Hogan Mayhew (12) carried the Blue Devils to the series sweep.
Nobles had the bump for game one. The Devils ace threw a complete game shutout, allowing just 5 hits and 2 walks on 106 pitches. Out of the 29 different batters he faced, Nobles struck out 16, a career high.
Columbus opened the scoring in the bottom of the 1st inning when Andrew Wells (11) sent home Jake Courville (11) with a sac fly. The score remained 1-0 until a Kaysen Reynolds (12) double scored Ashton Smith (12) to add some insurance for the Blue Devils.
Howard began rallying back in the top of the 6th, loading the bases with only 1 out in the inning. This did not faze Nobles, who proceeded to strike out the next two batters to get out of the jam.
These types of situations are nothing new for him. Ever since little league, Nobles has made a habit out of succeeding in high-pressure scenarios.
“Playing in front of college and pro scouts is what separated me from other players,” explains the Presbyterian commit, “Being comfortable in intense situations is what helped me keep my cool on Wednesday.”
This sparked the bats for the Devils. They went on to put up 4 more runs in the bottom half, blowing the game open and securing a 6-0 Game 1 victory.
Hogan Mayhew was given the nod for Game 2, and he put up his own historic performance. The Andrew College commit pitched a 5-inning no-hitter, striking out 9 batters. The only baserunners for Howard came from two Columbus errors.
The Blue Devil bats were held scoreless in the first inning, but they went on to score in each of the innings that followed. Nathyn Patrick (11) opened the scoring for Columbus with a 2-out double in the 2nd that sent home Will Nobles (12). The junior batted in another run in the 4th, singling in Ashton Smith (11).
A 3-run 4th and a 5-run 5th secured Columbus the series sweep, and while the bats were clicking for the Devils, Mayhew was lights-out on the mound. His historic pitching performance sealed the deal for Columbus, advancing them to the second round.
“I was just focusing on doing my job and trying to get the win because that is what matters most,” explains Mayhew. However, he did not underestimate the significance of his performance, “That could have been my last time pitching on the Columbus High baseball field, and to know that that’s how it ended is awesome.”
The Blue Devils will be traveling to play 1-seed North Oconee in the second round. The two teams last faced each other in the 2019 state quarterfinals when the Titans swept Columbus. The Devils seek to take revenge for the 2019 loss. Games 1 & 2 will be played next Tuesday with a third game to be played Wednesday if necessary.