The Worthington Kilbourne High School baseball team did the math and realized this week could put it one step closer to an OCC-Cardinal Division championship.
But the arithmetic got a little fuzzier after last Monday's 1-0 loss in 10 innings at Olentangy, a team that's won four in a row against the Wolves.
Instead of a two-game lead in the division, Kilbourne had a little less breathing room at 12-3 overall and 4-1 in the league before beginning second-round play last Wednesday against Pickerington Central. Everyone else in the league had at least two losses.
The Wolves last season finished third in the league at 6-4 behind Olentangy (10-0) and Dublin Jerome (7-3) and ahead of Mount Vernon (4-6), Pickerington Central (2-8) and Westerville South (2-8).
"It certainly makes it more interesting," coach Mario Paliotto said. "We've got to play Olentangy again, and on Wednesday we've got Westerville South, who always plays us tough. It's far from over, but we had an opportunity to really separate ourselves from the rest of the league."
The trip to Olentangy, which improved to 3-5 overall, certainly seemed all-too-familiar for senior pitcher Aaron Kingcade, who last season lost a one-hitter 1-0 to the Braves.
He made it through eight innings last Monday without allowing a hit and struck out eight batters.
Before his start, Kingcade was 4-0 with a 1.14 ERA. Kilbourne's No. 1 starter, Kyle Lindquist, who was expected to pitch last Wednesday, also remained undefeated with four victories and a 1.36 ERA.
"We're lucky enough that we're still a game ahead of every team in the league right now," senior catcher Dan Petke said. "It's just up to us to go out and get it done. We control what we do and we can still take the league."
The Wolves had a few opportunities to score early in the game, but it was the Braves who came up with clutch hitting when Corey Joe drove in the winning run in the 10th with a single down the right-field line.
"We hit the ball hard, but we just hit it right at people," Paliotto said. "We just could come up with the hit when we needed it. These guys only had a couple of wins so it doesn't matter in baseball. One or two guys can dominate and win the game and that's what happened."
Kilbourne, ranked third in the Division I area coaches poll behind Hilliard Darby and Hilliard Davidson, had no trouble scoring last week as it defeated St. Charles (9-2 on April 15) and Dublin Jerome (10-0 on April 16).
Through 14 games, the team was hitting .319 and averaging nearly six runs per game.
Kingcade continued to lead the way at the plate (.429, 3 doubles, 2 triples, 1 home run, 11 RBI). Four other players -- Chris Michalski, Mike Johnson, Kyle Lindquist and Nathan Sparks -- were batting better than .300.
Darren Grimm had a team-best 16 RBI.
"I think its all about consistency for us right now," Petke said. "I think with us it's about stringing hits together and hitting when we need it most."
The Wolves' Nathan Sparks connects with a pitch April 16 during a 4-0 victory over Dublin Jerome.
At a glance
Below are the recent results and coming schedule for the Kilbourne baseball team:
April 15 -- Defeated St. Charles 9-2. Kilbourne scored three times in the third and four in the sixth.
*April 16 -- Def. Dublin Jerome 4-0
Last Saturday -- Game against Lancaster postponed
*Last Monday -- Lost to Olentangy 1-0 in 10 innings. Aaron Kingcade didn't allow a hit in eight innings and struck out eight.
*Last Wednesday -- Played Pickerington Central
Friday -- Home vs. Westerville North
Saturday -- Home vs. Bloom-Carroll
*Monday -- Home vs. Mount Vernon. Kilbourne won 8-3 on April 9
*Wednesday -- Home vs. Westerville South
Of note: The Wolves were 12-3 overall and 4-1 in the OCC-Cardinal before last Wednesday.