Coach Phil Callaghan likes how his Olentangy Orange High School baseball team is evolving.
Despite winning six of its first seven games, Callaghan said his team's 10-1 victory over Olentangy in an OCC-Capital Division game April 11 was the first time the Pioneers had an all-around performance.
"We hit the ball, we got great pitching from Jake Ross and we played good defensively," said Callaghan, whose team was 6-1 overall and 3-0 in the OCC-Capital before playing Mount Vernon on April 16. "(In a 3-0 league win over New Albany on April 9) we left the bases loaded a couple of times and couldn't get the big hit. We were able to get that (April 11)."
Ross went the distance, tossing a three-hitter with four strikeouts, three walks and a hit batter. The senior also had a two-run single in the sixth inning.
"Definitely my (batting practice) fastball was the difference," Ross said. "It's a slower fastball and they were way out in front of it."
Ross gave up an unearned run in the fourth. He surrendered walks in the fifth and seventh and hit a batter in the sixth, but those runners were erased on double plays to end the innings.
"Jake was hitting his spots and his off-speed pitch was working for him," catcher Alec McCurry said. "That kept (the batters) off-balance and helped set up other things."
The Pioneers had 10 hits, including an RBI double by Cody McCague and a two-run single by Hunter Kightlinger. Tyler Johnson, Nick Mancini and Matt Smith all had two singles and Blake Sells had an RBI single.
"We had talked that we really had not played good baseball all year," McCurry said. "That was a good baseball game and it's what we need to do every single game."
Olentangy and Orange played April 14, but the game was suspended by darkness with the game tied at 8 after seven innings.
Orange opened with a 15-3 victory in six innings over Canal Winchester on April 1 and split a doubleheader with Dublin Scioto on April 5, losing 5-4 and winning 6-2.
The Pioneers also defeated New Albany 12-9 on April 10 and beat Dublin Coffman 3-1 on April 12.
Braves look to get tough
Olentangy was 3-4 overall and 2-1 in the OCC-Capital before playing Orange on April 14 and Franklin Heights on April 16.
"We need to have more mental toughness," coach Ryan Lucas said. "We can't say that we're young anymore. We have to get out there and play smart and be tougher."
The Braves had three hits in their 10-1 loss to Orange on April 11. Drew Batt walked and scored on an RBI single by Deeb Haber. Christian McFarland doubled and Luke Porter singled.
Orange broke open the game by scoring five runs in the fourth and four in the fifth.
"We were right there (tied at 1) until the fourth," Lucas said. "When they scored to break the tie, you could see our body language change. We just collapsed, and we can't do that."
The Braves lost their opener 2-1 to Westerville Central on March 31 and defeated Watkins Memorial 11-5 on April 1.
On April 4 at Ohio State, Connor Brett and McFarland had triples in a four-run seventh to tie Liberty, but Olentangy lost 5-4 in nine innings. Joe McGuinness doubled and Austin Moore drove in a run on a squeeze bunt.
On April 5, the Braves lost 10-0 in six innings to Liberty Township Lakota East at V.A. Memorial Stadium in Chillicothe.
Olentangy won its first two league games, defeating Big Walnut 4-2 on April 9 and 13-5 on April 10.
"We're hitting the ball, but a lot of times it's right at people," Lucas said. "We had 12 hits (April 10) because we found the holes. We just have to get out and play and figure things out."
Patriots win first seven games
Liberty was 8-3 overall and 3-1 in the OCC-Central after defeating Upper Arlington 8-2 on April 14 and before playing Marysville on April 16.
The Patriots won their first seven games, including four at the Ripken Experience in Myrtle Beach, S.C. They defeated Louisville (Ky.) Male 9-1 on March 30, London (Ky.) North Laurel 8-4 on March 31 and Ashland (Ky.) Blazer 15-4 and Brandenburg (Ky.) Meade County 1-0 on April 1.
In their 5-4 win April 4 over Olentangy, Jacob Niggemeyer tripled, doubled and singled, drove in a run and stole home in the ninth for the winning run. Marcus Wechselberger had two triples, one single and an RBI, and Nick Newton picked up the victory.
Liberty won its first two league games, beating Central Crossing 8-0 on April 9 and 12-2 in six innings April 10, before losing to UA 3-2 in a league contest April 11.
The Patriots followed with a pair of losses to Grove City in a doubleheader April 12. Nick Parr singled twice and had three RBI and A.J. Kullman tripled and had two singles in a 6-5 loss in the opener. In a 3-1 loss in the second game, Matt Matthaes doubled and Danny Kirchner singled, walked twice and stole a base.