With the Division I district championship ceremony about to begin May 21 at Dublin Jerome, a fan of the Gahanna Lincoln High School baseball team joked with coach Mike Shade that the fans would "let it slide this time" that the Lions had won "only" three district titles during the current group of seniors' four seasons.

With the Division I district championship ceremony about to begin May 21 at Dublin Jerome, a fan of the Gahanna Lincoln High School baseball team joked with coach Mike Shade that the fans would "let it slide this time" that the Lions had won "only" three district titles during the current group of seniors' four seasons.

Opponents probably wouldn't have found that to be funny, especially given how seniors Shane DeFranco, Vinny Galiardi, Drew Kessler, Jarrod Moss, Taylor Neville and Joey Tomko helped lead the way for another district tournament run.

The Lions defeated 10th-seeded Watkins Memorial 3-1 in a district semifinal May 18 at Hilliard Davidson behind a standout pitching performance from Galiardi and then used strong pitching and small ball to beat second-seeded Dublin Coffman 5-1 in a district final.

Gahanna will play Westerville Central in a regional semifinal at 2 p.m. Thursday, May 26, at Coffman. The winner plays Grove City or West Chester Lakota West in a regional final at 5 p.m. Friday, May 27, at Coffman.

The regional champion advances to a state semifinal June 2 at Huntington Park. The state final is June 4 at the same site.

"This senior class is something special," Shade said. "We have at least 90 wins over the last four years. This one felt good."

The district final also offered an opportunity for a talented young player to shine.

Sophomore Alec Tuohy got the start on the mound in part because of a strong pitching performance in a 5-3 win over New Albany on May 14. He pitched like a seasoned veteran against the Shamrocks, striking out six, including the first two batters of the seventh inning looking, and allowed just three hits.

"After (Tuohy) got through the (fifth) inning when they got the bases loaded, he did really well," Shade said. "He's a sophomore and had a lot of adrenaline and was able to make the pitches with guys in scoring position. He threw very well, and we knew they have a lot of right-handed hitters."

Tuohy said it was "kind of a shock" when he was told late last week that he'd be starting the district final.

"My fastball was the biggest pitch I had all day," he said. "After I got out of the inning where they had the bases loaded, I stayed out of my head. It's awesome to be with these seniors who have been playing all four years. I'm definitely trying to do it for them."

The Lions, who improved to 24-6 with the win over Coffman, hope the starting duo of Galiardi and Tuohy can lead them to the state tournament.

Junior Nick Van Keuren, who was the team's No. 2 pitcher for most of the regular season, and Neville are others who could be called on to pitch during the regional tournament.

Westerville Central improved to 23-7 with a 12-7 win over Reynoldsburg on May 21 in a district final at Olentangy. Dan Lawrence went 2-for-3 with three RBI, Jake Simmerman hit a three-run homer and catcher Kyle Pollock - an Ohio State recruit - was 4-for-5 with four RBI.

"Westerville Central is a very good baseball team," Shade said. "They've won a bunch of ballgames and have an outstanding catcher."

If the Lions get by Westerville Central, they could get a rematch with Grove City in a regional final.

The Greyhounds improved to 19-10 with a 5-2 victory over Worthington Kilbourne in a district final May 20 at Hilliard Davidson. Gahanna split with Grove City in OCC-Ohio Division play during the regular season, losing 5-2 on April 27 and winning the rematch 17-3 on May 7.

Lakota West was 17-11 after beating Cincinnati Glen Este 5-1 in a district final May 21 at Cincinnati Western Hills. The Firebirds won the 2007 state championship and captured district titles in 2008 and '09.

Before rain wreaked havoc on the district tournament schedule May 18-20, the Lions scored one run in the second inning and two in the fourth in support of Galiardi to beat Watkins Memorial. Dakota Cararo had an RBI single and Jarrod Moss had an RBI double.

In the district final, Jake Moss scored on a groundout by Cole Greisinger to make it 1-0 in the second. Cararo singled, moved to second on a groundout and went to third on a passed ball before scoring on a single by Jarrod Moss in the third.

Holding a 2-1 lead in the sixth, Gahanna scored three runs with two out. Neville began the rally by reaching first on a passed ball after striking out. The Lions scored one run on a walk, one on a groundout and another on a passed ball.

The victory represented a form of retribution for last season, when the Lions lost in a district semifinal after making back-to-back district-title runs.

"Last year was kind of a bitter feeling," Neville said. "We want to go all the way to Huntington Park. The small ball kind of got us a little spark. It's going to be a good game (against Westerville Central). They've got a really good hitting team, but we can shut them down."