One of the questions for the Dublin Scioto High School baseball team entering this season was whether it could find someone to replace graduate Mike Woytek, who had been the ace pitcher for four years.

One of the questions for the Dublin Scioto High School baseball team entering this season was whether it could find someone to replace graduate Mike Woytek, who had been the ace pitcher for four years.

Through the first half of the OCC-Capital Division schedule, junior Eric Stamets has provided that reliable arm in the rotation. As the opposing pitcher to Watkins Memorial pro prospect Justin Warrington as well as the aces of Big Walnut and New Albany, Stamets is one of the reasons that Scioto only lost one game through the first round of league play -- and he's done it with a simple approach.

"When I pitch, I don't think about (the other pitcher)," Stamets said. "I just try to throw strikes and let the defense take care of it.

"I think we have a good shot the league title. But everybody else is still in it."

Watkins Memorial and New Albany also went through the first half of league play with just one loss. Scioto's loss was to Olentangy Liberty 22-6 on April 16, and it'll get a chance to avenge that loss Monday when the Irish play at Liberty. In the last game the Patriots sealed the win with 11 runs in the top of the seventh inning.

Wednesday the Irish will play host to Watkins Memorial in a game that will affect the league standings with two outcomes. On April 22, Stamets faced Warrington in a game the Irish and Warriors played to a 1-all tie. They were headed into the 11th inning when the game was suspended because of darkness.

Warrington showed the command that has attracted professional scouts, striking out 22 in nine innings. But he couldn't help the Warriors' offense, which Stamets held in check.

The offensive production, though, has become a point of emphasis for the Irish heading into the second part of the league schedule. Besides Warrington, the Irish have done well against other teams' aces. If Watkins Memorial throws Warrington again, the Irish will have to be prepared to face a pitcher coach Scott Marple called the best in the area.

"Warrington is a whole different animal at this level," Marple said. "Anytime you know your taking about someone like him it's a little different. Our approach is always look for your pitch and battle -- hang around and hang around and try to take the some of the life off his fastball. This is exactly what we did against (New Albany ace Mitch Myers). This isn't what we did against Watkins Memorial."

Against New Albany, the Irish won 6-1 on April 14. They used four hits to defeat a pitcher who was 3-1 with a 1.02 ERA. They also played well against Big Walnut's No. 1 pitcher Tim O'Brien, who has a 1.75 ERA. The Irish won 9-0 on April 9 and had 13 hits in that game. But all those performances have done is raise the bar for Scioto.

After losing to Mentor 4-3 and Strongsville 8-1 last Saturday and being held in check 7-0 by Pickerington North on April 24, the Irish have continued to refine their approach at the plate since having success against pitchers like Myers hasn't always translated.

"We've been focusing out our approach at the plate," Stamets said. "We just have to keep working and looking for our pitch."

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedule for the Scioto baseball team:

*April 14 -- Defeated New Albany 6-1

*April 16 -- Lost to Olentangy Liberty 22-6

April 17 -- Lost to Sparta Highland 6-5

April 19 -- Def. Marysville 10-2

*April 21 -- Game vs. Watkins Memorial suspended because of darkness. It will be resumed Wednesday.

*April 23 -- Def. Franklin Heights 12-0

April 24 -- Lost to Pickerington North 7-0

Last Saturday -- Lost to Mentor 4-3; lost to Strongsville 8-1

*Last Monday -- Def. Big Walnut12-2 in six innings

*Last Wednesday -- Played New Albany

Today -- Home vs. Centerburg

Saturday -- Home vs. Westerville Central

*Monday -- At Liberty

*Wednesday -- Home vs. Watkins Memorial

Of note: The Irish were 9-6 overall and 5-1 in the OCC-Capital before last Wednesday.

*OCC-Capital game

Scioto's Eric Stamets holds onto the ball April 23 as Pickerington North's Eric Brindle was thrown out at second base.