The end came suddenly for the Pickerington High School Central and North baseball teams.

The end came suddenly for the Pickerington High School Central and North baseball teams.

The Tigers rallied from a 2-0 deficit to force extra innings against fourth-seeded Westerville Central in a Division I district semifinal May 20 at Delaware. But Westerville Central catcher Kyle Pollock, an Ohio State recruit, hit a two-run home run to right field with two outs in the ninth to lead the Warhawks to a 4-2 victory.

The Tigers finished 15-8 overall.

"The one guy we didn't want to beat us, beat us," coach Chick Campbell said.

Senior Kyle Smith had scored from second base on a passed ball and an error to tie the score at 2 in the top of the sixth inning. All of the game's other runs came on homers, as Westerville Central's Jake Simmerman hit a two-run homer in the first inning, and senior Tyler Hammond brought the seventh-seeded Tigers back to within 2-1 with a solo home run in the fifth.

Pitching was the dominant force, however.

Senior Isaac Beller, a Wright State recruit, went six innings for the Tigers before being relieved by junior Zach Beaver. Connor Sitz pitched a three-hitter for the Warhawks, who went on to capture a district title by defeating Reynoldsburg 12-7 in a final on May 21.

Fifth-seeded Gahanna and ninth-seeded Grove City also won district titles to advance to regional play.

"It was a well-played game on both sides," Campbell said of the semifinal, which had been postponed by bad weather three times. "Unfortunately, someone had to lose."

The Tigers had opened the tournament with a 39-0, five-inning win over Independence on May 9 and beat Mount Vernon 13-2 in five innings in the second round on May 11.

The Tigers went 8-6 in the OCC-Ohio Division to place fifth, behind North (12-2), Gahanna (10-4), Grove City (9-5) and Reynoldsburg (9-5) and ahead of Groveport (3-11), Newark (3-11), and Lancaster (2-12).

The Tigers lose five seniors, including Kyle Smith, who will play football at Washington & Jefferson in Washington, Pa. Hammond will play football at Ohio Dominican.

Among those expected to return are junior catcher Evan Jensen, junior shortstop Nick Jensen-Clagg and sophomore third baseman Greg Basalyga. Also expected back are juniors Ty Clouse, Nick Ellis, Daniel Musso, Avery Walker, Michael Zwilling and Kyle Hyer, a catcher who missed the season with a hockey-related injury.

Jensen made first-team all-league and Jensen-Clagg was second team. Both made first-team all-district.

"It was a strange year," Campbell said. "We battled the weather every week, and it's a shame we had to play through the same conditions during the tournament."

North won its third league championship since the school opened in 2003-04. It also marked the seventh time in eight years that the Panthers have finished in the top two of the OCC-Ohio.

North is 75-17 overall since 2009, finishing 25-4 this spring after a 2-1 loss to 22nd-seeded Worthington Kilbourne in a Division I district semifinal May 18 at Hilliard Davidson.

Kilbourne's Cody Strayer hit a solo home run in the top of the ninth inning for the decisive run. Senior pitchers Drew Williams and Zack Huskey allowed just four other hits.

"It was a typical high school baseball tournament," Panthers coach Tim Thomas said. "You need a little bit of talent and a lot of luck."

The top seed, North defeated Groveport 5-0 in the second round on May 11 after having a first-round bye.

Grove City captured last year's OCC-Ohio championship, but the Panthers swept a key series with the Greyhounds - 3-2 on May 6 and 5-4 on May 10. Overall, North won seven one-run games, including a 5-4 victory over the Tigers on April 14. The Panthers also won the teams' other league contest, 6-3 on April 8.

The Panthers lose 13 seniors, including co-captain Kyle Chontos and top pitcher Kyle Sorensen, who missed the second half of the season with an injury. Sorensen will play at Indiana-University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.

Among the other seniors are Williams, who went 6-1 on the mound, and pitchers Nathan Edwards and Mason McGrew, who went 5-0 and 4-0, respectively.

Butler shared OCC-Ohio Player of the Year honors with Gahanna's Joey Tomko and Reynoldsburg's J.C. Gibson.

Butler, Chontos and Williams all made first-team all-league and first-team all-district. Chontos and Butler have been selected to play in the Minuzo all-state game June 11 in Chillicothe, and Williams is an alternate.

Among those expected to return are juniors Cale Giddings and Nick Glanzman and sophomores Corey Black, Ryan Miller, Tyler Pagano and Matt Poland. Pagano was 3-1 on the mound.

"Our expectations don't change at North," Thomas said. "But the seniors have set the bar pretty high."