After falling short of the OCC-Ohio Division title, the Grove City High School baseball team turned its focus toward winning 20 games and capturing a third consecutive Division I district championship.
Grove City, which lost in a state semifinal each of the last two years, finished the regular season 18-9 overall and third in the league at 9-5, behind Pickerington North (12-2) and Pickerington Central (10-4) and ahead of Gahanna (8-6), Lancaster (8-6), Newark (5-9), Reynoldsburg (4-10) and Groveport (0-14).
"We would have liked to make a little better run at the OCC title," coach Ryan Alexander said. "Twenty wins is another goal of ours. A district championship is still well within reach. We still have two big goals left that we want to go after."
The Greyhounds were seeded seventh in the tournament and had a first-round bye. They played host to 31st-seeded Teays Valley in the second round May 15.
The winner plays fifth-seeded Olentangy or 29th-seeded Dublin Coffman in a semifinal Tuesday, May 21, at Hilliard Darby, with that winner moving on to a district final May 23 at Otterbein, possibly against fourth-seeded Thomas Worthington or ninth-seeded Dublin Jerome.
Grove City defeated Coffman 11-2 on April 25.
"I'm perfectly fine with everybody we're going to play," Alexander said.
"It comes down to us. Are we going to play our style of baseball -- not making errors, not walking guys, not walking leadoff hitters, acting like that first out is the biggest out of the night? When we play that way, we're a great baseball team. When we don't, we could be really bad."
The Greyhounds entered the final week of the regular season in contention for a second consecutive league title, as they were tied with Central at 9-3 behind North at 10-2.
North, which is the top seed in the tournament, defeated Grove City 3-1 on May 7 and 6-2 on May 8.
"It was a good game," Alexander said of the second contest. "They got the bigger hits when they needed them."
Central defeated Gahanna 8-7 on May 8 to secure second place.
Through 27 games, Ben Myers (OF/P) was hitting .457, followed by Drew Artrip (P/1B) at .421 and Dominic Cooper (INF) at .409. Cooper led the team in RBI with 20 and Tyler Cowles (OF) had three home runs.
"It's a letdown when we don't win the OCC or get to 20 wins (in the regular season), but that's motivation to what we want to do eventually as a team," Artrip said. "The Cincinnati leagues are tough, but we're in one of the toughest divisions around."
On the mound, Josh Schaffer was 5-2 with a 1.60 ERA and 29 strikeouts and 24 walks in 35 innings. Myers was 4-1 with a 2.20 ERA and 22 strikeouts and seven walks in 28 2/3 innings, Austin DeVore was 3-0 with a 1.83 ERA and 15 strikeouts and 15 walks in 15 1/3 innings and Kyle Bennett was 3-3 with a 1.80 ERA and 39 strikeouts and 10 walks in 50 2/3 innings.
"There's still a lot of guys trying to make adjustments," Alexander said. "Wanting to be a coachable team, it's just them coming down to making decisions on the fly that sometimes is still scary. It's a team that never wants to stop learning."
Comets exceed coach's expectations
Central Crossing was 18-6 overall after beating to Liberty Union 7-0 in its regular-season finale May 13.
"They've exceeded expectations as far as wins and losses just because we knew that we lost quite a few seniors from last year and we were going to rely on a couple younger kids that we knew had the ability to help us be successful, (but) they were just unproven," coach Scott Todd said.
The Comets finished seventh in the OCC-Central at 5-9, behind Thomas (11-3), Marysville (9-5) Olentangy Liberty (9-5), Coffman (8-6), Upper Arlington (8-6) and Davidson (6-8) and ahead of Westland (0-14).
Central Crossing swept Westland, winning 12-0 in six innings May 6 and 5-1 on May 8.
"It's nice anytime that you can beat a team in your (school) district just because the kids know each other and they like playing against each other," Todd said. "It's one of those things where the kids have grown up together, they know each other and they're out there to win, so records have nothing to do with it."
The Comets also defeated Thomas 10-8 on May 2.
Central Crossing was seeded 16th in the Division I district tournament and, after a first-round bye, played 22nd-seeded Davidson or 32nd-seeded Briggs at home May 15.
The winner plays Pickerington North or 33rd-seeded Reynoldsburg in a semifinal Monday, May 20, at Coffman.
The district final is Wednesday, May 22, at Otterbein. Possible opponents include 12th-seeded Pickerington Central and 13th-seeded Darby.
Through 23 games, Connor Coup (1B) was hitting .408 with a team-high 26 RBI. Will Bohne (2B/P) was hitting .397, followed by Shaun Seigneur (P/1B/OF) at .373, Marc Russell (SS/P) at .355 and Doug Smith (3B/SS/P) at .338.
Russell was 5-3 with a 3.45 ERA and 39 strikeouts and 17 walks in 50 2/3 innings, and Seigneur was 4-2 with a 4.41 ERA and 20 strikeouts and 17 walks in 33 1/3 innings.