It was at this point last season that the Delaware Hayes High School baseball team began thinking about the possibility of winning its first league championship.

It was at this point last season that the Delaware Hayes High School baseball team began thinking about the possibility of winning its first league championship.

Entering the final week of league play, the Pacers were tied with Thomas Worthington and Pickerington North for first in the OCC-Central Division. But they lost two of their final three games to finish third behind Thomas and North before winning a Division I district championship.

"That was the one thing we didn't accomplish last season that we felt we should've," said first baseman Zack Nowland, who was hitting .463 (19-for-41) through 13 games. "We won the district, but our first goal this season is to win the league."

The Pacers are in a similar position entering games Monday at home against Thomas and Wednesday at Pickerington North.

North was 5-1 in the OCC after beating Marysville 7-0 last Wednesday and Thomas was 4-2 after edging Central Crossing 2-1. Delaware was 4-1 before completing a game against Westerville Central last Thursday. The game was suspended in a 3-all tie last Wednesday in the bottom of the fourth inning because of weather.

Evan Shaw hit a leadoff home run and Caleb Wilburn added a two-run home run with one out in the first inning against the Warhawks, who were 3-2. Central Crossing at 1-5 and Marysville at 0-6 rounded out the standings.

"Winning the league is our main focus in the regular season because it's something we had a chance to do last year and didn't," said Wilburn, who led the team in hitting at .463 entering last week. "It's never been done at Delaware and we want to be the first to do it."

In the first round of league play, Delaware beat Thomas 8-4 on April 9 and downed North 8-1.

The Pacers trailed the Cardinals 4-3 in the top of the sixth inning, but a bizarre played highlighted a five-run rally. With the bases loaded and two outs, Cody Dalga swung at strike three and the ball squirted away from the catcher, who retrieved it and rolled it back toward the mound.

As the Cardinals jogged off the field, Delaware base runners began to advance. When one of the Cardinals coming off the field picked up the ball and was about to make a play on a runner, Thomas coach Stephen Gussler reportedly scolded him and told him, "Put the ball down, we're not playing that game."

Dalga circled the bases to follow his teammates home. After the umpire ruled all four runs scored, a 15-minute complaint from Gussler did not change the outcome.

Billy Harkenrider hit a two-run home run and Scott Sheets allowed four hits.

Sheets, who was 4-1 with 31 strikeouts before last Wednesday, also pitched well against North. He allowed just three hits and Shaw and Nowland both were 2-for-4 with two RBI.

"Our pitching has been really solid all season for the most part, and our defense is starting to jell," coach Mike Yinger said. "We moved some people around. We've got Jake Shaw playing third base now and Seth Frentsos is at second base. They're really playing well. Jake Shaw gives us a solid left side of the infield with Caleb Wilburn at shortstop and Seth Frentsos has become the man at second base. He's very, very good defensively."

The defense has allowed the pitching to become even more comfortable, according to Yinger.

The rest of the staff includes Kees Burns (3-1), Frank Eastman (2-1 with 32 strikeouts) and Harkenrider (2-0 with 22 strikeouts).

Eastman threw his second-consecutive one-hitter last Monday in the Pacers' 12-3 win at Central Crossing. In his previous outing April 17, Delaware beat Bexley 9-0.

"I figured out how to pitch and rely on my defense, too," Eastman said. "I was using my fastball as my get-ahead pitch and my out-pitch before. This year, I'm controlling my curve and changeup and throwing them for strikes. That gives me options. The hitters don't know what's coming and it keeps them guessing.

"The defense has been strong lately, too. I left two changeups up against Central Crossing and they drilled them at Jake Shaw and he made the plays. That gives you confidence to be able to throw anything. I don't have to strike everyone out. The defense can make plays if I leave a pitch up or something."

That confidence is something which pleases Yinger.

"Knowing the defense will make plays behind him, Frank has become a more complete pitcher," he said. "He is now getting three pitches over for strikes and that changes his whole style and attitude. Being able to throw other pitches makes his fastball look even faster. He changes speeds and locations."

Against the Comets, Eastman was 2-for-4 with three RBI and Nowland also was 2-for-4.

Delaware's Cindy Bowman (left) and Brittany Walters celebrate at the end of an inning last Wednesday during a 5-1 victory over Westerville Central.

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Delaware Hayes baseball, softball, boys tennis and boys volleyball teams:

BASEBALL

April 17 -- Defeated Bexley 9-0

April 19 -- Def. Liberty Union 15-7

*Last Monday -- Def. Central Crossing 12-3

*Last Wednesday -- Game at Westerville Central suspended in bottom of fourth inning in a 3-all tie because of weather. It was to be completed last Thursday, replacing a scheduled non-league game against Grove City.

Last Saturday -- Played Big Walnut and Westerville South

*Monday -- Home vs. Thomas Worthington

*Wednesday -- At Pickerington North

Friday -- Home vs. Olentangy

Saturday -- At Gahanna (doubleheader). The Pacers won 9-5 last season.

Of note: The Pacers were 11-3 overall and 4-1 in the OCC-Central before last Thursday.

SOFTBALL

April 19 --Lost to Mount Gilead 5-4; lost to West Jefferson 4-1. The Pacers scored three in the top of the seventh at Mount Gilead for a 4-1 lead, but the Indians won on a three-run home run by Jordan Rausch with two outs in the bottom of the inning.

*Last Monday -- Def. Central Crossing 2-1. Emily Young allowed three hits.

*Last Wednesday -- Def. Westerville Central 5-1. Sara Hyatt was 2-for-3 and Brittany Walters, Kayleigh Huck and Kalene Schmidt were 2-for-4. Huck had two doubles, two runs and two stolen bases. Walters, Schmidt and Cindy Bowman drove in runs.

Last Thursday -- Played Olentangy

Last Friday-Saturday -- Competed in Westland Classic

*Monday -- Home vs. Thomas Worthington. The Pacers lost 2-1 on April 9.

*Wednesday -- At Pickerington North. Delaware won 1-0 on April 15 as Young threw a two-hitter.

Saturday -- At Reynoldsburg (doubleheader). The teams did not play last year.

Of note: The Pacers were 6-7 overall before last Thursday and are 3-3 in the OCC-Central.

TENNIS

*April 17 -- Lost to Thomas Worthington 5-0

April 18 -- Lost to Marion Harding 3-2

April 19 -- Finished sixth (5) in six-team Delaware County Tournament behind Olentangy Liberty (23), Olentangy (14), Big Walnut (13), Village Academy (12) and Buckeye Valley (8)

Last Tuesday -- Lost to Village Academy 4-1. Andy Arter and Casey Fittro won 6-3, 7-6 at first doubles.

*Last Thursday -- Played Pickerington North

Last Saturday -- Played Marysville in non-league match.

Monday -- At Westerville North

*Thursday -- At Marysville. The Pacers lost 3-2 last season.

Friday -- At Briggs

Of note: The Pacers were 2-6 overall and 1-1 in the OCC-Central before last Thursday.

*OCC-Central contest

VOLLEYBALL

April 16 -- Match against Westerville North canceled

*April 17 -- Lost to Dublin Jerome 25-19, 25-15, 25-16

*Last Tuesday -- Lost to Mount Vernon 25-8, 25-17, 25-19. Zach Hyatt had four assists and two kills and Jon Hunt added three kills and an ace against the top-ranked team in the state.

Last Wednesday -- Lost to Hilliard Davidson 25-9, 25-12, 25-10. Hunt had two kills and Justin Kerby had two solo blocks.

*Last Thursday -- Match against Liberty postponed. It tentatively was rescheduled for May 13.

Monday -- At Gahanna Christian

*Tuesday -- At Westerville Central. The Pacers lost 25-13, 25-13, 25-10 on April 10.

*Thursday -- At Pickerington Central. Delaware lost 27-25, 25-10, 25-16 on April 15.

Saturday -- At Toledo Central Catholic

Of note: The Pacers are 3-9 overall and 0-5 in the OCC-Capital.

*OCC-Capital match