A tough regular-season schedule proved to be beneficial in the postseason for the Olentangy High School baseball team.

A tough regular-season schedule proved to be beneficial in the postseason for the Olentangy High School baseball team.

The Braves played a Division I schedule and only won two league games, but that experience helped lead the team to a Division II district final before falling to second-seeded Lakewood 6-5 on May 19 at Dublin Coffman.

Olentangy trailed 5-0 after one inning but rallied for four runs in the third and another in the sixth to tie the game before falling to the Lancers in the bottom of the seventh when Jacob Gray scored the decisive run.

"They didn't play like a .500 team," Gray said. "They looked like they'd been playing Division I teams all year."

The Braves finished 15-16 overall and 2-12 for last in the eight-team OCC-Cardinal Division behind co-champions Dublin Jerome, Dublin Scioto and Olentangy Liberty (10-4). Westerville South was fourth (8-6), followed by Marysville (7-7), Westerville North (5-9) and Westerville Central (4-10).

"If you look at the top teams in our league, four or five of them won something like 18 games," Olentangy coach Steve Little said after his ninth season. "We knew it was going to be tough as young as we were. We knew we were playing for the tournament."

Lakewood pelted sophomore pitcher Chris Elmer with five runs in the first inning, but Kenny McCambridge relieved, holding the Lancers in check until the run in the seventh. The junior right-hander even had a span of retiring 10 consecutive batters.

"I give a lot of credit to (McCambridge)," Lakewood coach Don Thorp said. "He came in and did an excellent job of keeping the ball down on us."

In the postseason, the Braves defeated Linden-McKinley 29-0 in five innings on May 13 and Granville 9-7 on May 14. They then knocked off DeSales 12-11 in a district semifinal on May 17 at Coffman.

Seniors for the Braves were outfielders John Arnold, Justin Gingery and Alex Hunn, infielder Chris Janssen, outfielder Justin Kelly, right-handed pitcher Alex Schogoleff and outfielder Zach Wojta.

"The seniors, they gave us the leadership we needed to get through what was obviously a tough season at certain points," Little said.

Juniors expected to return are first baseman Joe Allocco, outfielder/pitcher Ryan Berkery, catcher Chris Binkley, infielder Jared Hale, first baseman Sean Leonard, McCambridge and infielder/pitcher Chad Nugen. Sophomores expected back are outfielder Will Brett, shortstop/pitcher Ryan Dubil, Elmer, infielder Tyler McFarland and catcher Woody Wallace.

"We told our seniors back in 2004 how they were laying the groundwork for the teams to come," Little said. "This group, they're going to take the mantle and run with it, too."

At a glance

•Key returnees: Joe Allocco, Ryan Berkery, Ryan, Dubil, Sean Leonard, Kenny McCambridge, Tyler McFarland and Woody Wallace • Record: 15-16 overall, 2-12 (last) in OCC-Cardinal •Seniors lost: John Arnold, Justin Gingery, Alex Hunn, Chris Janssen, Justin Kelly, Alex Schogoleff and Zach Wojta