The Canal Winchester High School baseball team made it back-to-back Division II district titles.

The Canal Winchester High School baseball team made it back-to-back Division II district titles.

The Indians will play New Philadelphia in a regional semifinal at 2 p.m. today at Gant Municipal Stadium in Zanesville.

Last season, Canal Winchester entered regional play as the underdog at 18-11 but went on to reach the state final where it lost to Cayahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit 6-0.

The Indians will be on the other side of it this season, as they enter today's game at 26-4. New Philadelphia is 15-11. At one point this season, the Quakers were 6-11.

Today's winner will play 5 p.m. Friday in a regional final against Cambridge or Waverly. The Bobcats were 22-5 and Waverly was 24-4 before their game today.

The regional winner will advance to a state semifinal June 4 at Huntington Park.

Canal Winchester coach Jason Vest said he is looking forward to playing at Gant Municipal Stadium, which was one of the team's goals this season.

"We went to Zanesville last year and we worked all year to be the top seed in the district so we could choose where we went, and this is the path we chose," Vest said. "New Philadelphia and Cambridge are very good ballclubs and we're going to have to play better than we did (in a district championship)."

Canal Winchester defeated Licking Valley 8-6 on May 20 in a rematch of last season's district final, which the Indians won 5-3.

"This is big for us. Before the season, our main goal was to keep playing hard and getting better every day," Vest said.

"I don't think back-to-back district titles have happened in while for Canal Winchester, so obviously we're pretty excited about that. I might start to get used to it."

The Indians took a 5-0 lead after 2 1/2 innings. Drew Dosch drove in Matt Romanowski with a triple in the first and followed him home on the play thanks to a throwing error by Licking Valley. In the second inning, Aaron Barber reached on a fielder's choice and later scored on a throwing error. An inning later, Wes White scored on a passed ball and Mike Romanowski scored on another throwing error.

The Panthers used a two-run double by Drew Ryan in the bottom of the third and made it 5-3 in the fourth when Cory Boyer scored on a passed ball.

Canal Winchester extended its lead to 8-3 in the fifth on consecutive doubles by Romanowski and Tyler Steube, as well as a passed ball which allowed White to score.

It remained 8-3 until the bottom of the seventh when White, who started on the mound, allowed the first two runners to reach base. Anthony Riggs relieved and got two quick outs, but then surrendered a two-run double. A throwing error made it 8-6.

Cody Skeese then singled to left.

Vest then took a trip to the mound, at which point White, who had moved to shortstop, asked for the ball back. Vest brought him back to the mound. While allowed runners to reach second and third before striking out Panthers' leadoff hitter Nathan Hopkins for the final out.

"He was good (May 20). There's no question Wes is a great competitor, he really kept us off balance and we couldn't get a base hit when we needed a base hit," Licking Valley coach Rick Houston said.

"At that point, the game was so close and the adrenaline was pumping," White said.

"I kind of got in a jam there, but was able to get out it. I was just fortunate that coach (Vest) trusted me enough to put me back out there."