Getting over the hump in the Division II district tournament has turned out to be a tricky task for the New Albany High School baseball team.

Getting over the hump in the Division II district tournament has turned out to be a tricky task for the New Albany High School baseball team.

The Eagles have reached at least a district semifinal in each of the past four seasons but have not reached the regional. Next season New Albany, which was Division III as recently as 2005, is set to move up to Division I.

Four of the six teams New Albany played in the OCC-Capital Division this season were Division I, and the Eagles played 12 games against Division I opponents and just one against Division III. They finished 14-10 overall after losing to DeSales 4-3 in a district semifinal May 18.

"I'm proud of them," said coach Bob Talpas, whose team also was 9-3 in the OCC-Capital, second to Mount Vernon (11-1) and ahead of Delaware (8-4), Big Walnut (5-7), Olentangy Orange (5-7), Watkins Memorial (4-8) and Franklin Heights (0-12). "They battled. We hit the ball pretty well all year, and we played great competition all year. All our losses were to teams with 18 to 20 wins."

Of the eight teams to beat New Albany, all but one team reached at least a district semifinal.

In the finale, DeSales scored the winning run in the bottom of the seventh. Jake Sullivan had his best outing of the season, allowing two earned runs and four hits over 6 1/3 innings with 10 strikeouts, but the Eagles could not muster enough offense against standout pitchers Andrew Parise and Thomas Gentile.

Talpas had hoped the Eagles could capitalize on their late-season momentum and a favorable draw and break through to the regional.

"(DeSales is) a great team, but I would have loved to beat them because we're going to Division I next year," Talpas said. "This was our last year here, so we wanted to make a little noise while we were still in Division II, but that didn't happen, unfortunately. But to get here is a big thing, too, to play a DeSales, a Watterson or Jonathan Alder. Those are the top teams in the district. We like to think of ourselves as one of them, too."

"I like it," junior Brian Wyer said of the move to Division I. "I'm looking forward to playing Division I, just the challenge of it. If should be fun. You always want to go and beat the best."

The Eagles will lose nine seniors. Sullivan, a two-year starter in center field, is the Eagles' only three-year letterwinner and made first-team all-OCC and first-team all-district for a second consecutive season. Evan Sabo (3B), Chance Moore (2B) and Matt Pantano (LF) started two seasons, and Mike McNutt (RF) started this season. Sabo was first-team all-OCC and second-team all-district, Moore was second-team all-OCC and honorable mention all-district and Pantano was second-team all-OCC.

Mark Parent was one of the top pitchers for the past two seasons, and Mike Kaufman also threw significant innings over the past two seasons. Trey Bowman (C/INF) and Matt Kadylak (OF) were two-year letterwinners as well. Parent was honorable mention all-OCC.

Wyer, Joe Morlan and Christian Teeple led a junior class that should keep the Eagles in good shape next season. Morlan was unable to pitch this season because of an injury, but he hit fourth in the lineup as a designated hitter and was second-team all-OCC. He should be a major factor in the pitching rotation next season, along with Wyer, sophomore Damaree Parsons and junior Michael Van Staten. Wyer also started at third base and was one of the team's top hitters.

Teeple, who started last season at catcher, split time with sophomore Bryant Bednarek. Teeple and Morlan are the team's only underclassmen with two years of varsity experience. Bednarek made second-team all-district.

Parsons started at shortstop and sophomores Sam Krebs saw significant playing time in the outfield. Juniors Nolan Rehmar (OF) and Alex Bartholomew (INF) also are expected back.

At a glance

•Record: 14-10 overall, 9-3 (second) in OCC-Capital

•Seniors lost: Trey Bowman, Matt Kadylak, Mike Kaufman, Mike McNutt, Chance Moore, Matt Pantano, Mark Parent, Evan Sabo and Jake Sullivan

•Key returnees: Bryant Bednarek, Joe Morlan, Damaree Parsons, Christian Teeple, Michael Van Straten and Brian Wyer