The Dublin Jerome High School baseball team fell short in its hopes of defending its Division I district title.

The Dublin Jerome High School baseball team fell short in its hopes of defending its Division I district title.

The Celtics reached a district semifinal before falling to Hilliard Darby 5-3 on May 20 at Jerome. The Panthers went on to win the title and will play Gahanna in a regional semifinal today at Dublin Coffman.

Jerome finished 14-13 overall and in a four-way tie with Westerville South, Mount Vernon and Olentangy for third at 4-6 in the OCC-Cardinal Division as Worthington Kilbourne and Pickerington Central tied for first at 7-3.

The Celtics beat Olentangy 6-1 on April 7, South 2-0 on April 21, Central 4-1 on April 28 and Kilbourne 3-1 on May 5. Jerome also swept two games from Coffman, 6-0 on April 12 and 5-4 on May 6.

It will lose seniors Tyler Kiste, Tyler Rosenbaum, Ben Sward and Tatsuya Hama. Sward batted .341 and tied sophomore center-fielder Jared King for the team-lead in RBI with 23. Sward added 16 runs and eight doubles and was second-team all-OCC-Cardinal and honorable mention all-district.

"Last year was a lot of fun," Sward said. "This year there was a little bit of a learning curve, but I hope that us four seniors can leave their mark and they continue it next year."

Hama was the team's scholar athlete.

"This was the first (senior) group that went through all four years," coach Chris Huesman said.

"They really set the tone for these underclassmen on how to play and how to play hard. Ben Sward was vital in the fact that he was on the varsity for four years and really played hard and set the tone for the underclassmen."

Kiste batted .319 and drove in 15 runs and Rosenbaum hit .288 and tied junior Jason Pollo for the team-lead in home runs with two -- against Coffman on May 6 in a 6-4 win over Thomas Worthington in the second round of the district tournament May 15.

Leading the expected returnees is King, who led the team in hitting (.438), hits (35), RBI, doubles (10) and stolen bases (12). The left-hander also is expected to return to the mound after being unable to pitch most of the season with bone spurs in his left elbow.

King was first-team all-OCC-Cardinal and all-district.

Junior outfielder Mike Adolph was second on the team in hitting at .392. He was honorable mention all-OCC-Cardinal. Junior catcher Josh Lento batted .318 followed by sophomore third baseman Alex Schillig (.313).

Joining King on the mound next year will be juniors Matt Boothe and Neil Johnson.

Johnson was 6-2 with a 1.35 ERA, 22 strikeouts and 17 walks and was second-team all-OCC-Cardinal and all-district. Boothe, who missed part of the season with tendinitis in his throwing elbow and a groin injury, was 4-3 with a 2.97 ERA, 27 strikeouts and 18 walks.

Sophomores Nick Sobel and Drew Whitson are expected to contribute on the mound.

Also expected back are juniors Premal Bhatt, Brett Freiberg, Brett Mosher, Robert Phillips and Alex Ring.

"Next year they're going to reload and get back at it," Sward said. "It will be exciting to see what they're going to do next year."

"We're champing at the bit for next year," Huesman said. "We know we're going to have a really good team. We're going to have a good pitching staff and we're going to have guys who really know how to play Celtic baseball. We can't wait. Our future looks really good for the next five years."

At a glance

•Record: 14-13 overall, 4-6 (tied for third) in OCC-Cardinal

•Seniors lost: Tatsuya Hama, Tyler Kiste, Tyler Rosenbaum and Ben Sward

•Key returnees: Mike Adolph, Matt Boothe, Neil Johnson, Jared King, Josh Lento and Alex Schillig