Members of the Pickerington High School Central and North baseball teams have been on a diamond together before.

Members of the Pickerington High School Central and North baseball teams have been on a diamond together before.

Whether it was a neighborhood pickup game, a summer league contest or a preseason scrimmage between the two programs, playing baseball with one another was not new.

But when the teams took the field last Friday, it was new. The game counted and it made for a unique atmosphere as North beat Central 17-4.

"Overall, the excitement was there," Central coach Chick Campbell said. "Pickerington baseball was the main stage (last Friday). It hadn't been like that for a long time. The stands were crowded, it was an upbeat game and it was really exciting."

North senior right-fielder Byron Johann is a veteran. He has helped guide North to the cusp of OCC-Central Division and Division I district titles. Yet when he stepped on the field last Friday, it was new.

"We never have played them seriously and we were really hyped up to play them," Johann said. "It was an emotional game for us and them."

Tim Thomas coached North the last three seasons. After the Panthers won big last Friday, he witnessed players from each team make plans for the weekend.

"This was different than a district final game," Thomas said. "It was like playing your brother and you want to beat your brother."

North earned the bragging rights thanks to scoring at least one run in each of the five innings against Central. Leading 8-4, the Panthers scored eight runs in the top of the fourth. Matt Hayes earned the win.

"It was one of those nights where we hit the ball extremely hard one through nine," Thomas said. "Our kids were very excited and those type of games can go either way. Either your too pumped up and lose focus or stay focused for an entire two hours. Our kids stayed focus for the entire two hours."

The Panthers executed their gameplan to perfection. That plan is used whether it's a league game, non-league game or against Central.

"We want to win every inning," Thomas said. "If we can win every inning, we can win every game."

The Central game came at a perfect time for North. The win will not be forgotten anytime soon.

"We use a game like that as a reference or a mid-year test," Thomas said. "All their hard work and what we teach and coach showed how we can perform when those things are done the right way."

North junior catch Alex Bayer is not letting the win over Central get to his head.

"We're proud of the win," he said. "It is one of the most memorable games of the season, but at the same time we have to look past it because our season is not over yet. We have to keep playing."

Central has a chance at redemption May 2 at North.

"After the game, everybody was down and everybody was upset and took it hard," Campbell said. "I told them you're going to have games like this but let's look forward to that rematch on May 2."

Until then, Central is hoping to remain in the hunt for the OCC-Cardinal Division title. In order to do so, it must find consistency. The Tigers lost to Olentangy 6-5 on April 15 and responded by beating Westerville South 17-4 the next day.

"We just haven't been real consistent," Campbell said. "One day we get pitching and we can't hit or field, the next day the pitching isn't great but we hit well. Everything hasn't clicked yet. We have to concentrate on winning league games and take care of non-league games second."

At a glance

Below are recent results and coming schedules for the Central and North baseball teams:

CENTRAL

*April 15 -- Lost to Olentangy 6-5

*April 16 -- Defeated Westerville South 17-4

Last Friday -- Lost to Pickerington North 17-4

Last Saturday -- Lost to Lancaster 5-4

*Last Monday -- Def. Mount Vernon 9-4

*Last Wednesday -- Played Worthington Kilbourne

Today -- At Dublin Coffman. The teams did not play last season.

*Monday -- At Dublin Jerome. Central won 13-12 on April 9.

*Wednesday -- Home vs. Olentangy

Of note: The Tigers were 7-5 overall and 3-2 in the OCC-Cardinal before last Wednesday.

*OCC-Cardinal game

NORTH

*April 15 -- Lost to Delaware 8-1

*April 16 -- Def. Central Crossing 17-7

Last Friday -- Def. Pickerington Central 17-4

Last Saturday -- Lost to Reynoldsburg 10-8; def. Reynoldsburg 19-4

*Last Monday -- Def. Thomas Worthington 6-5

*Last Wednesday -- Played Marysville

Today -- Home vs. Dublin Scioto

Friday -- Home vs. Lancaster. Central won 17-5 last season.

Saturday -- Home vs. Utica (doubleheader). The teams did not play last season.

*Monday -- Home vs. Westerville Central. North won 12-7 on April 9.

*Wednesday -- Home vs. Delaware

Of note: The Panthers were 9-4-1 overall and 4-1 in the OCC-Central before last Wednesday.

*OCC-Central game