The Hilliard Darby High School baseball team played a fundamentally sound game to reach its first Division I district final since 2008.
The 13th-seeded Panthers pounded out 13 hits to defeat 12th-seeded Pickerington Central 11-4 on May 20 in a district semifinal at Olentangy.
"We got two wins in the tournament with solid defense and good outings on the mound," said coach Chris Fugitt, whose team was 18-10 overall before playing Pickerington North in a district final May 22 at Otterbein. "Nate Green pitched another great game for us and he also hit a two-run homer to put us up 3-0 in the third."
The Panthers won district titles in 2007 and 2008. They defeated Reynoldsburg 1-0 in in 2007 before losing to Dublin Jerome 4-1 in a regional semifinal. A year later, they defeated Zanesville 5-2 in the district final before losing to Gahanna 9-8 in a regional semifinal.
"Coach (Fugitt) talked to the seniors before the season and I told him that I wanted to make it at least to a district final," said senior infielder Jake Chetock, who had two singles with one RBI and scored a run against Central. "Now I think we can go even further."
"It's awesome to make it (to a district final)," said senior outfielder Chris Ramsey, who drove in two runs in the district semifinal with a single and a sacrifice fly. "(The seniors) have been playing together since we were 10 years old, and we knew we could make it this far."
The district champion will play in a regional semifinal May 30 at Dublin Coffman against Marysville, Liberty, Watkins Memorial or Westerville North.
To reach the district semifinal, the Panthers had a first-round bye and beat 18th-seeded Lancaster 8-2 in a second-round game May 15. Green, a junior, struck out eight, walked four and surrendered two runs on four hits. He also drove in two runs on a pair of doubles.
Senior Connor Holdren (INF) singled three times, scored three runs and had one RBI. Chetock tripled, singled, scored two runs and drove in one. Ramsey tripled, singled, drove in a run and scored once.
'Cats drop slugfest with top-seeded North
Davidson lost to top-seeded Pickerington North 16-14 on May 20 in a Division I district semifinal at Coffman to finish 14-15 overall.
The 22nd-seeded Wildcats reached a second consecutive Division I district semifinal and the sixth in seven seasons. Also, coach Jim Dougherty retired after 32 seasons.
The Wildcats committed five of their eight errors in the first inning as North took an 11-0 lead. They staved off being run-ruled by scoring twice in the fifth to trail 16-7 and scored four runs in both the sixth and and seventh innings.
"We were down 11 runs, but we had six innings left," said senior infielder Nick Wright, who had a three-run home run in addition to two doubles, two singles and three runs. "We have done (come back) all season long."
Senior outfielder Collin Dickey hit a two-run homer with one single and scored three times as the Wildcats had 18 hits. Junior shortstop Nick Stull doubled with two singles and scored three times and junior catcher Nick Iske singled two times. Senior outfielder Scottie Munson had one double and one single.
"That's the first homer I hit in high school and it was in my last game," Dickey said. "I didn't even feel it. I just swung, and it took off."
Davidson defeated 16th-seeded Central Crossing 9-8 on May 15 in the second round. It marked the return of senior Jacob Chrysler, who separated his left shoulder April 30 on a headfirst slide into third base during a 6-2 loss to Upper Arlington. Before his injury, the right-hander was 3-0 with a 1.39 ERA with one save, 30 strikeouts and 16 walks in 29 innings.
The Wildcats trailed 5-1 and rallied for seven runs in the sixth and one in the seventh.
Bradley losing 'character' seniors
Bradley finished 11-15 overall after losing at home to 26th-seeded Upper Arlington 6-4 in nine innings in the opening round of the Division I district tournament May 13. The Jaguars were the 23rd seed.
"That's kind of the way we did things this year, fighting hard until the end," said coach Matt Gilkerson, who completed his fourth season. "I'm proud of the way the kids played and it showed what kind of character they had."
Junior Zach Daylong went all nine innings. He struck out three, walked five and allowed seven hits and four earned runs.
Senior Riley Butz (OF) tripled, singled and had two RBI and senior Jacob Miller (OF) doubled and singled. Senior Jackson Everman (INF) had an RBI single and sophomore Drew Haynes (INF) singled and scored a run.
Bradley finished sixth (5-9) in the OCC-Cardinal Division behind Jerome (12-2), Darby (11-3), Westerville South (8-6), Westerville North (7-7) and Dublin Scioto (5-8) and ahead of Westerville Central (4-9) and Worthington Kilbourne (3-11).
Miller (second-team all-district, first-team all-league) batted .430 with 17 runs and 14 RBI. Everman (honorable mention all-district, second-team all-league) was 2-6 with a 2.85 ERA in 59 innings with 55 strikeouts and 14 walks. He also hit .286 with 16 RBI and 16 runs.
The senior class also included Reilly Butz (OF/P; .253, 10 runs, 18 RBI), Austin Hatcher (INF/P; .244, 13 runs, 6 RBI), Ryan Johnson (OF; .263, 10 runs, 6 RBI), Chris Kramb (INF/P) and Jake Martin (OF/P).
"The seniors were all high-character kids and all added something different to the team," Gilkerson said.
Freshman catcher Cameron Duke was second-team all-league, batting .355 with 13 runs and 19 RBI. Daylong (honorable mention all-league) was 3-3 with a 2.49 ERA in 53 1/3 innings. Also expected back are juniors Ryan Beveridge (C) and Brady Simpson (INF/OF/P) and sophomores Haynes (.280, 13 runs, 4 RBI), Nick Jenkins (INF/C) and Preston Rapp (INF; .282, 15 runs, 10 RBI).
"We have a freshman (Duke) and two sophomores (Rapp and Haynes) who have a lot of varsity experience (and should be) coming back," Gilkerson said. "And we have Zach Daylong, who pitched better as the year went along."