The Thomas Worthington High School baseball team is looking to top what it achieved last season when it won its first league title since 2007 and captured its first district championship since 1981.
Coach Stephen Gussler said the Cardinals showed that they are capable of reaching that goal when they beat two-time defending Division I regional champion Grove City 9-7 in nine innings on April 4.
"We have a talented, experienced group and we have expectations because of the legacy that last year's seniors left behind," Gussler said. "Last year, we took a big step forward and now we want to be where Grove City was the past two years, competing in the state tournament. Grove City's a great team and beating them in a close game under the lights was a huge confidence builder because it shows that we can take this team to the next level."
Thomas went 3-1 last week and was 8-2 overall and 2-1 in the OCC-Central Division after beating Westland 14-0 on April 15.
The Cardinals beat league-rival Upper Arlington 12-2 in six innings April 10 at home, avenging a 6-2 loss to the Golden Bears two days earlier at UA. On April 13, they defeated Westerville Central 7-0 behind a two-hitter by pitcher Sam Ankrom and beat Northridge 9-0 behind a five-hitter by pitcher Scott Brown.
Through nine games, Thomas' pitching staff had a 1.90 ERA with seven complete games.
Roscoe Blackburn was 3-0, including victories over Grove City and UA, and Nick Pauley was 2-1.
Among the offensive leaders were outfielder Nick Highley (.375 batting average) and shortstop Ben Miller (team-high 14 RBI).
"Our pitching has been tremendous and we're putting up a lot of runs," Gussler said. "(On April 13) we pitched 14 innings of shutout baseball."
The Cardinals will play host to Westland on Thursday, April 18, and Dublin Coffman on Friday, April 19, in league games.
"Those teams' records aren't the best this year, but it's baseball and we need to throw strikes and make plays," Gussler said. "We gave up five unearned runs in our loss to Upper Arlington, so we need to improve our defense. We also need to do a better job on the base paths because we've run ourselves into some outs."
Wolves searching for timely hitting
Kilbourne coach Jeff Boulware said his team needs to take advantage of more scoring opportunities.
After beating Ready 5-4 in the first game of a home doubleheader April 6, the Wolves stranded 19 baserunners in a 7-5 loss to the Silver Knights.
"We're doing a decent job of getting runners on base, but we need to put more runs on the scoreboard," Boulware said. "When we get runners in scoring position, we've struggled. Sometimes you just need one guy to get a big hit in that situation and it has a snowball effect. We need someone to spark us at the plate."
Brian Sommers has emerged as the team's No. 1 pitcher. The senior allowed only one earned run in seven innings in a 4-2 win over Westerville South in an OCC-Cardinal game April 8.
Boulware also has been pleased with the hitting and defensive play of center fielder Dominic Brown and shortstop Hayden Shenefield.
"Those three guys are doing a good job of leading us and the rest of our lineup is brand new," Boulware said. "Brian Sommers is giving us consistently good pitching and hitting, and Dom Brown has been a good leadoff hitter. Dom had four stolen bases in one game (a 6-3 loss to Marysville on April 2), which was pretty impressive."