ROSELLE PARK – Sometimes a baseball game can be over after just one inning.
That’s if one team has a pitcher who is capable of dominating a lineup right from the start.
Give that pitcher four runs in the top of the first and the home team is in big trouble immediately.
That was the formula for a red-hot Columbia team Saturday night in the 7th annual Roselle Park Dad’s Club Invitational.
The visiting Cougars banged out four hits in the top of the first before an out was retired. That plated four runs, which was more than enough support senior left hander Jesse Evans needed.
Columbia went on to win 11-1, a full seven innings was played, with Evans – who did not go the distance – turning in one of his top performances of the season.
Evans struck out 13 – including the side in the bottom of the first – did not walk a batter, yielded five hits and allowed no earned runs to improve his record to 4-0.
Columbia, one of the top teams in Essex County, won for the fifth straight time to improve to 10-1. The Cougars were 5-0 when they lost at home to Livingston 6-0 on April 8.
Since its only defeat, Columbia is 5-0 and has outscored its last five opponents by an impressive 34-2 margin.
Roselle Park, battling for the Union County Conference’s Valley Division title, had a two-game winning streak snapped and fell to 6-3.
Columbia leadoff batter Ryan Murphy got things started in a positive fashion for the Cougars when the senior centerfielder blasted a pitch over the Roselle Park center fielder’s head, good enough for a standup triple.
After a walk, Columbia batters that followed in the order banged out a two-run single, an RBI-double and an RBI-single to make it 4-0 very quick.
In between allowing consecutive singles to left by Roselle Park batters in the bottom of the first, Evans fanned the first two batters he faced – the first one swinging and the second one looking – and then struck out the fifth batter in the order looking to retire the side and prevent the host Panthers from getting right back in the game.
Columbia added a single run in the second, two more in the fourth and one in the fifth to go up 8-0.
Roselle Park scored its only run in the bottom of the sixth before Columbia – which banged out 13 hits – closed the game’s scoring with three runs in the top of the seventh.
Columbia senior shortstop Eric Lax was 3-for-4 with a double and four RBI, while teammate Peter Nolet – a sophomore pitcher-first baseman – was 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI.
NOTES: Eleven was the magic number Saturday for three of the four winning teams. After Ramapo edged Union City 1-0, Bridgewater-Raritan, St. Peter’s Prep and Columbia all went on to win their games by scoring 11 runs.
7TH ANNUAL ROSELLE PARK DAD’S CLUB
Friday, April 17
Weehawken 3, New Providence 2
Washington Township 5, Marist 1
Saturday, April 18
Ramapo 1, Union City 0
Bridgewater-Raritan 11, Steinert 1
St. Peter’s Prep 11, Millburn 4
Columbia 11, Roselle Park 1
Sunday, April 19
Union Catholic vs. Newark Academy
Middlesex vs. Bernards