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Darby upsets Pickerington North to win district title

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Hilliard Darby's Connor Holdren (left) watches as teammate Eric Norton turns a double play over Pickerington North's Tyler Pagano during the Division I championship game at Otterbein University on May 22. Darby won 2-0.
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The Hilliard Darby High School baseball team used a strong pitching performance from Chase Longwell and manufactured a pair of runs to defeat top-seeded Pickerington North 2-0 in a Division I district final May 22 at Otterbein University.

It was the program’s first district title since winning back-to-back titles in 2007 and 2008.

Darby, the 13th seed, improved to 19-10 and advanced to play in a regional semifinal at 2 p.m. May 30 at Dublin Coffman against third-seeded Watkins Memorial or 14th-seeded Marysville. Those teams play May 23 at Ohio Dominican.

Longwell pitched a six-hitter with four strikeouts and two walks. His defense turned three double plays.

“That’s by far the best game I’ve pitched all year,” he said. “I knew I had the defense behind me and that was the difference.”

North, which finished 25-5, had two rallies killed by double-play grounders going from shortstop Eric Norton to second baseman Connor Holdren to first baseman Nate Green.

Trailing 1-0 in the fourth, losing pitcher Logan Giddings flied out to center fielder Chris Ramsey and catcher Matt Poland tried to score on the play. Ramsey’s throw was cut off near the mound by Green, who twirled and threw to Darby catcher Stephen Hernon for the final out.

Designated hitter Jake Chetock scored both Darby runs. He had a two-out single in the third, stole second and moved to third on an infield single by Holdren. Ramsey followed with a slow roller that was fielded behind the mound by North second baseman Corey Black, who lost his shoe and his balance and was unable to make a throw to first.

In the fifth, Chetock reached with an infield single and moved to second on a throwing error to first on the play. Holdren bunted him to third and Ramsey hit a sacrifice fly to center.

Darby had no extra-base hits.

For North, shortstop Justin Childers tripled and third baseman Jordan Grubb doubled. Giddings struck out four and walked two.

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