The Westerville North High School baseball team struggled through the first four weeks of the regular season.

The Westerville North High School baseball team struggled through the first four weeks of the regular season.

It opened with a 5-12 start and lost five of its first eight league games to fall out of the OCC-Cardinal Division title hunt.

The Warriors also went 0-2 against the other two Westerville teams, losing to South 7-4 on April 14 and to Central 8-1 last Friday.

Yet, coach Sean Ring said his squad still could salvage its regular season and build momentum heading into the Division I district tournament by winning its OCC-Cardinal rematches against South and Central.

The Warriors play host to South on Friday and to Central on Tuesday

"Those games are important to the kids, and winning them absolutely would be a good wave to ride into the tournament," Ring said.

Despite losing their first meetings against Central and South, senior pitcher/outfielder Andrew Forrest said he's confident the Warriors can turn the tables on those opponents if they play well.

As evidence, Forrest pointed out that North beat Olentangy Liberty 8-5 on April 12, downed Olentangy 10-3 on April 19 and defeated Dublin Jerome 5-4 on April 21.

Last week, Liberty was No. 3 in the Division I state poll and No. 1 in the area coaches poll.

Jerome, which was No. 5 in the Division I area coaches poll, was 11-4 before playing North. Olentangy was 9-6 before losing to the Warriors.

"We're definitely seeking some revenge against Central and South," Forrest said. "We know we're capable of beating any team on any night, because we beat one of the most talented teams in the state in Olentangy Liberty, and we picked up big wins against Olentangy and Dublin Jerome.

"It all depends on which team shows up for those games, because we've been inconsistent."

The Warriors have been getting strong pitching efforts out of starters Garrett Lieb, Zach Nilsson, Chris Williams, Colin Williams and Forrest. Before last Monday, Nilsson was 2-0 with wins over Liberty and Jerome.

But North has struggled at the plate at times. It was held to one run or less in eight of its first 17 games.

The Warriors had eight hits in their loss to South against pitchers Austin Parks and Ben Williams, but squandered some quality scoring chances.

Nilsson was leading North with a .515 batting average before last Monday.

"We've got to focus and do a better job of taking advantage of our opportunities against South, because we let some pass us by in the first game," Ring said. "South is a team of big, strong kids, who swing an aggressive bat. They're an intense offensive team and they play hard. But we've got a lot of quality arms and I've got a large group of guys I'd feel comfortable putting on the mound against any team."

North, which had three defensive errors against Central, is striving to play better defensively, too.

A bright spot has been the play of sophomore Alex Morrow at second base. Morrow has replaced starter Hayden Whitfield, who broke his left wrist during North's 7-4 victory over Cincinnati Milford on April 17. Morrow drove in Forrest with the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning against Jerome.

"We're searching for defensive consistency, too," Ring said. "We made three errors against Central, but that isn't why we lost. We need to be more aggressive with our bats when we play them again."

Connor Sitz pitched a four-hitter against North to earn his third win of the season.

The Warhawks piled up 10 hits, and coach Jeff Keifer is hoping for a similar effort in the rematch.

"That was arguably the best we've played this year," Keifer said.

"We've been scoring a bunch of runs, but there are times when we can't get our defense off the field. But when we get the right guy on the mound and we hit the way we're capable of hitting, we're capable of being a dangerous team."

Leading Central in hitting before last Tuesday were Billy Cooper (.525), Kyle Pollock (.462), Danny Lawrence (.456), Josh Helmer (.448) and Sitz (371).

Keifer said the Warhawks are looking to earn community bragging rights, after splitting with South this season.

"It would be great if we could win this game and finish 3-1 against the other Westerville teams," Keifer said. "If North beats South and we beat North, I guess we'd finish with the best record in the Westerville games this year.

"That's something the kids are already talking about, saying 'we can rule the Ville.'"

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedule for the Central, North and South baseball teams:

CENTRAL

*April 19 - Lost to Dublin Jerome 8-0. Central's Billy Cooper doubled twice and singled.

*April 21 - Lost to Westerville South 12-9. Danny Lawrence had a grand slam, two doubles and a single for the Warhawks. Josh Helmer and Kyle Pollock added two hits apiece.

*April 22 - Lost to Olentangy Liberty 7-4. Pollock and Connor Sitz each doubled and singled.

*Last Friday - Def. Westerville North 8-1. Sitz went the distance for the win. He allowed three hits and struck out five. Helmer singled twice, doubled and drove in three runs. Lawrence and Pollock each had two hits and an RBI.

*Last Monday - Game against Marysville postponed

*Last Wednesday - Played Dublin Scioto

*Friday - Home vs. Olentangy. The Braves defeated Central 11-8 on April 14.

Saturday - Home vs. Wayne (DH)

*Monday - At Olentangy Liberty

*Tuesday - At Westerville North

*Wednesday - Home vs. Dublin Jerome

Of note: The Warhawks were 6-12 overall and 2-6 in the OCC-Cardinal before last Wednesday.

NORTH

*April 19 - Defeated Olentangy 10-3. Andrew Forrest pitched a five-hitter. Joey Detty led off the game with a solo home run.

*April 21 - Def. Dublin Jerome 5-4. Zach Nilsson pitched a four-hitter.

*Last Friday - Lost to Westerville Central 8-1

*Last Monday - Played Dublin Scioto

*Last Wednesday - Played Olentangy Liberty

*Today - Home vs. Newark

*Friday - Home vs. Westerville South

Saturday - Doubleheader at DeSales

*Monday - At Marysville

*Tuesday - Home vs. Westerville Central

*Wednesday - Home vs. Olentangy

Of note: The Warriors were 5-12 overall and 3-5 in the OCC-Cardinal before last Monday.

SOUTH

*April 20 - Defeated Olentangy 6-5. South rallied with two runs in the bottom of the seventh. Matt Stiltner got the win in relief.

*April 21 - Defeated Westerville Central 12-9. The Wildcats jumped out to a 10-1 lead and held on. Austin Parks got the victory.

Last Thursday - Lost to Jonathan Alder 27-9. An 11-run fourth inning by Alder was too much.

*Last Friday - Lost to Dublin Scioto 2-1. Brian Williams scattered five hits, but the Irish won with a run in the bottom of the sixth.

*Last Monday - Game against Dublin Jerome postponed

Last Tuesday - Played Westland

*Last Wednesday - Played Marysville

*Friday - At Westerville North. South won the first meeting 7-4 on April 14.

*Monday - At Olentangy. The Wildcats will look for the season sweep of the Braves.

*Wednesday - Home vs. Olentangy Liberty. South beat the state's third-ranked team 1-0 on April 19 behind a complete game from Williams.

Of note: South was 11-4 overall before last Tuesday and 6-3 in the OCC-Cardinal before last Wednesday.

*OCC-Cardinal game