continue to take
continue to take
care of business
It was the perfect opportunity for Lance Kingrey, and the type of "game-on-the-line" situation in which the senior for the Hilliard Darby High School baseball team takes pleasure.
With no outs and the tying run at the plate, Kingrey knew it would be up to him to close out the win in the bottom of the seventh at Hilliard Davidson last Friday.
It took just 10 pitches.
He struck out the first batter he faced, then got the next two hitters out on a fielder's choice and a flyout to secure a 9-7 victory over the Wildcats, who were second behind the top-ranked Panthers in last week's Division I area coaches poll.
The two teams played again last Tuesday for the sixth time after Davidson won both meetings last season 7-3 and 5-4.
"It's the kind of thing I look forward to," Kingrey said. "I knew if another runner got on I was going to come in from left field and pitch. I was ready for it."
That desire not only has earned Kingrey the No. 1 spot in the rotation, but also the top bat in the lineup for Darby. Through 13 games, Kingrey hadn't allowed an earned run in 14 innings and was 2-0 with a team-best 17 strikeouts. At the plate, he was batting .420 with eight doubles, a triple, a home run and 12 RBI.
He, along with senior catcher Adam Scheiderer (.405, 2 doubles, 1 triple, 13 RBI) and Ty Welch (.250, 4 doubles, 9 RBI), have been the Panthers' offensive mechanism.
"As they go, our offense goes," coach Chris Fugitt said. "We've got some other guys who can make things happen, but those guys have been our big guns."
Last fall, Kingrey's talents caught the attention of Miami University baseball coaches when he attended a camp in Oxford. They pursued him, and April 16 he signed to play with the RedHawks in the Mid-American Conference under coach Dan Simonds.
"They really like everything about him," Fugitt said.
"They like his size, his speed and his arm. He went down there in the fall and he was throwing in the high 80s to low 90s. He has the potential to be a super-star. He's a great kid who works hard."
Kingrey, who plays left field when he's not on the mound, impressed American Legion coaches as a sophomore.
But he had a lackluster performance at the plate last season when he earned starts behind graduate Tadd Sparks, who helped lead the Panthers to the program's first district championship.
"You know, I struggled a little my junior year at the plate, but I'm driving the ball a lot better this year," Kingrey said. "Pitching-wise, I'm a lot more confident this year."
It's that confidence that has helped Kingrey become a leader on and off the field, along with senior infielder Nathan Tieman, who had just one error through 84 innings.
Kingrey does it his own way.
"I want to lead by example and I hope the team follows what I do and play well," he said. "I like that role. Nathan Tieman is more of the vocal leader, but I just try to lead by example."
At a glance
Below are the recent results and coming schedule for the Darby baseball team:
April 15 -- Defeated Westerville North 2-1. Matt Frey pitched a complete game.
*April 16 -- Def. Westland 6-4
Last Friday -- Def. Davidson 9-7. Adam Scheiderer, Andrew Crawford and Ty Welch had two RBI. Lance Kingrey came on in the bottom of the seventh to earn the save.
Last Saturday -- Def. Olentangy13-4
*Last Monday -- Def. Groveport 11-1. Crawford hit a grand slam.
Last Tuesday -- Played Davidson
*Last Wednesday -- Played Newark
Today -- Home vs. Olentangy Liberty
Friday -- At Upper Arlington
*Monday -- At Lancaster
*Wednesday -- Home vs. Gahanna. Darby won 5-2 on April 14.
Of note: The Panthers were 13-1 overall before last Tuesday and 5-0 in the OCC-Ohio before last Wednesday.