Grove City High School baseball coach Ryan Alexander turned to his top two pitchers to help lead his team to a 7-0 win over visiting Teays Valley in the second round of the Division I district tournament May 15.
Kyle Bennett started and went five innings, allowing six hits with three strikeouts and no walks, and Josh Schaffer was on the mound for the final two innings, allowing one walk but no hits with three strikeouts.
"We took care of business against Teays Valley," Alexander said. "It was solid pitching by Bennett and Schaffer. They were both great. Both of them pitched well enough to be called the ace this year. They just didn't get any defensive support, so that is kind of what hurt both of them this year."
Seeded seventh of 41 teams, the Greyhounds, who had a first-round bye, improved to 19-9 and advanced to play fifth-seeded Olentangy in a district semifinal May 21 at Hilliard Darby. Entering the week, Schaffer had a 5-2 record and Bennett was 4-3.
"I figured we would hit the ball a lot better, but I expected our defense to do exactly what we did," Bennett said of the win over 31st-seeded Teays Valley. "We made our plays."
The semifinal winner plays fourth-seeded Thomas Worthington or ninth-seeded Dublin Jerome in a district final Thursday, May 23, at Otterbein University. Grove City lost to Thomas 9-7 on April 4.
The district champion will face Olentangy Orange, Gahanna, Dresden Tri-Valley or Upper Arlington in a regional semifinal May 30 at Dublin Coffman.
The Greyhounds split their two OCC-Ohio Division games against Gahanna, winning 2-1 on April 26 and losing 11-1 in six innings April 29.
Grove City is seeking its third consecutive district championship. The Greyhounds reached a state semifinal each of the past two seasons, losing to eventual champion Cincinnati Moeller 3-2 last year and losing to eventual champion Liberty Township Lakota East 7-2 in 2011.
Against Teays Valley, center fielder Ben Myers had two hits and two RBI and outfielder/infielder Brandon Marczika had a double.
The Greyhounds scored one run in the first inning, four in the second and two in the fifth.
"I thought early on we didn't get a lot of quality at-bats, but later on I thought when we had to, we got big hits," Alexander said.
Comets set program record for victories
It was a record-setting season for Central Crossing, which set the program mark for wins in a season by finishing 18-10 overall.
The previous record was set in 2009 when the Comets finished 17-9 for its first winning season. Last season, they finished 7-16.
"Any time you have a winning record and you have as successful a season as we had, you're always going to be happy," coach Scott Todd said. "But the competitor that I am and the competitor of the players that we had this year, we were hoping for more than 18 (wins). We were hoping that we could make a little run in the tournament, but (the players) do have a lot to be proud of. They have left their mark."
Seeded 16th in the district tournament, Central Crossing lost to 22nd-seeded Hilliard Davidson 9-8 in the second round May 15 at home after having a first-round bye.
The Comets scored five runs in the bottom of the first inning and led 5-1 through five innings, but they allowed seven runs in the sixth and one in the seventh and trailed 9-5 before scoring three runs in the bottom of the seventh.
Tony Ward had two hits and two RBI to lead the Comets.
Central Crossing had swept Davidson in OCC-Central play, winning 8-7 on April 15 and 4-2 in eight innings April 18.
The Comets went 5-9 in the OCC-Central to place seventh, behind Thomas Worthington (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).
The Comets split their two games against Thomas, losing 13-0 in five innings April 26 before winning 10-8 on May 2.
Central Crossing loses five seniors, including Ward (OF/P), Will Bohne (2B/P) and Shaun Seigneur (P/1B/OF). Bohne had a .358 batting average with 12 RBI and 21 runs and Seigneur hit .350 with 22 RBI.
"The seniors were a major part of the season, but so was everybody else on the team," Todd said. "That's what made this team so great is we had the great senior leadership. But then we also had juniors Marc Russell and Connor Coup and then we had some sophomores who we knew had the ability to help us this year. It was one of those seasons where everything just came together."
Coup (1B) hit .412 with a team-high 28 RBI and 20 runs, Russell (SS/P) hit .373 with a team-high 27 runs and sophomore Doug Smith (3B/SS/P) hit .350.
Others expected to return include juniors Austin Albert (OF), Caleb Jones (C/2B/P) and Drake Sidner (P) and sophomores Casey McManaway (OF/P/2B) and Ethan Swank (C/2B/OF).
"It's tough not having practice anymore just because we've had such a successful season," Todd said. "Being around such a good group of young men this year, it's just been a very enjoyable season, and not just because of the wins, but because of the players that we were able to coach this year."