Matt Poole wasn't stopping until he gave the Olentangy Orange High School baseball team the run it needed to win its first district championship since 2012.
With two outs in the top of the sixth inning May 17, Poole scored from second base on a grounder that barely reached the outfield grass, giving the 11th-seeded Pioneers a 1-0 win over fourth-seeded Thomas Worthington in a district final at Upper Arlington.Video •Olentangy Orange baseball players and coaches celebrate their first district championship since 2012.
The senior also delivered a stellar performance on the mound, tossing a four-hitter as Orange won its second Division I district title.
"I never saw the ball, but (third base) coach (Matt) Lattig was telling me to go," Poole said. "It's unbelievable that we finally got this (district title)."
The Pioneers improved to 20-8 and advanced to play Hilliard Darby in a regional semifinal at 2 p.m. Thursday, May 25, at Dublin Coffman. The Panthers improved to 26-3 by defeating Pickerington Central 11-10 in a district final May 17 at Grove City.
Orange has not played Darby this season.
"I have been playing since my freshman year and this is the best feeling ever," first baseman Jason Schutte said. "It doesn't matter who we play. We just have to go out and keep working to get better and be ready to play."
The Orange-Darby winner plays Big Walnut or Gahanna for the regional title at 5 p.m. Friday, May 26, at Coffman. The Pioneers lost to Gahanna 7-4 on March 30 and split a doubleheader with Big Walnut on April 22, winning 8-6 and losing 9-8.
The regional champion advances to a state semifinal June 2 at Huntington Park.
In the sixth against Thomas, Poole singled and moved to second on a wild pitch, and Zach Stiteler followed with a slow roller between first and second base. Thomas second baseman Vincent Armstrong slid to grab the ball and keep it just beyond the edge of the infield, but Poole never broke stride and beat the throw to the plate.
"I had seen five fastballs in a row and I wasn't looking for a fastball, so that caught me off-guard," Stiteler said. "I was able to push the ball (between first and second) and Matt did the rest. It was unbelievable."
Poole was in control throughout the game, retiring 12 consecutive batters before Joey Pischel singled for the Cardinals with two outs in the sixth. Armstrong followed with a single to put runners at the corners, but Trent Castle popped out to Schutte in foul territory to end the inning.
"We really have come together over the last couple of weeks to do this," Poole said. "We spend a lot of time together off the field, and I think that helps us. We have progressively improved throughout the year."
Watson sets state
record in pole vault
Anna Watson started the day under the weather and ended up on cloud nine.
The defending state champion in the girls pole vault, Watson cleared a state-record 13 feet, 6 1/4 inches in the Division I, district 2 track and field meet May 16 at Darby.
The previous state record was 13-6 set by North Royalton's Kristen Denk in 2015.
"I woke up and didn't feel right, but I was able to go out and do well," said Watson, a senior who has signed with Indiana University. "I felt terrible when I went to bed that night, but that didn't matter after breaking the record."
The top four finishers in each district event advanced to the regional May 24 and Friday, May 26, at Pickerington North, where the top four advance to the state meet June 2 and 3 at Ohio State.
Watson, who won state last year with an effort of 13-4, was far from the only standout for the Pioneers at district.
On May 20, the boys team captured the title in the 15-team district 1 meet with 124 points, outdistancing runner-up Reynoldburg (92). The girls team finished second (97.5) of 16 teams in district 2 behind Gahanna (158.5).
Jayden Rodgers led the boys by winning the 110-meter hurdles (14.56 seconds) and high jump (6-4). Also winning were the 3,200 relay of Tommy Heiden, Tyler King, Andrew Schroff and Hunter Moore (8:09.96) and the 1,600 relay of T.J. Coates, King, Christian Wright and Zach Harrison (3:22.16).
Coates won the 400 (49.93) and Moore was first in the 3,200 (9:19.82). King was runner-up in the 800 (1:57.38), as was Kevin Acheampong in the long jump (21-11 1/4) and Nate Roush in the pole vault (13-4).
Brandon Ransom, Harrison, Joel Sarpong and Rodgers were third in the 400 relay (43.25), and Sarpong, Coates, Harrison and Sam Ansong were third in the 800 relay (1:29.27).
Harrison was fourth in the 200 (22.23), and Zack Skidmore placed fourth in the shot put (48-9 1/2).
For the girls, Grace Frye won the discus (125-3) and was third in the 300 hurdles (45.77). Allison Guagenti won the 1,600 (5:01.12) and was runner-up in the 3,200 (11:07.0), and Mackenzie Blendick was second in the 110 hurdles (15.36).
The 400 relay of Brenda Agyekum, Angel Frye, Ahtiona Carter and Grace Frye was third (49.14), and the 1,600 relay of Grace Frye, Brynna Johnson, Angel Frye and Elizabeth Schneider placed third (4:00.38).
Johnson, Schneider, Lindsay Ott and Guagenti were fourth in the 3,200 relay (9:39.67), and Agyekum was fourth in the 100 (12.48).
Boys lacrosse team
makes regional semi
The third-seeded boys lacrosse team was 13-5 before playing at second-seeded Olentangy on May 24 in a Division I, Region 1 semifinal.
The winner plays top-seeded Liberty or fifth-seeded Delaware in a regional final Saturday, May 27, at a site to be determined.
The regional champion plays Cleveland St. Ignatius, Hudson, Massillon Jackson or North Canton Hoover in a state semifinal Wednesday, May 31, at a site to be determined.
The state final is June 3 at Ohio Wesleyan.
Nick Brandt scored five goals and Mason Handa and Luke Schmeling both added four as Orange won 18-4 over 12th-seeded Brunswick on May 17 in the first round.
Brandt and Schmeling both scored twice to help defeat ninth-seeded Westlake 7-4 on May 20 in a regional quarterfinal.
Doubles team falls
short at district
Alex Heiden and David Phelps went 1-1 in doubles in the Division I district boys tennis tournament May 18 at Hilliard Davidson, but did not advance to state.
The pair defeated Darby's Krishna Revur and Adam Shrock 6-0, 6-1 before losing to St. Charles' Jack Dabek and Evan Yakubov 7-6 (9), 2-6, 6-4 in a state-qualifying match.
Girls lacrosse team
falls to Patriots
The sixth-seeded girls lacrosse team lost at third-seeded Liberty 20-6 on May 19 in a Division I, Region 1 quarterfinal to finish 6-13.
Brooke Delara and Bella Lindell scored two goals apiece.
Softball team pleases
Jenna Tullis was happy with the progress the softball team made in her first season as coach.
The 33rd-seeded Pioneers lost at 23rd-seeded Pickerington North 11-8 on May 8 in the first round of the Division I district tournament to finish 5-14 overall.
"I feel that as a group we were able to come together and support each other through the ups and the downs of the season," Tullis said. "This group of girls did a great job making sure they were always having fun, push each other to exceed expectations and continue to be positive throughout each game."
The Pioneers finished fifth (3-7) in the OCC-Buckeye Division behind Westerville Central (10-0), Olentangy (7-3), Westerville North (5-5) and Liberty (4-6) and ahead of Westerville South (1-9).
Seniors were Raelynn Bishop (1B/OF), Ally Brandt (OF; .347, 2 home runs, 11 RBI, 9 runs), Alex Nagy (P/3B; 3-3, 5.05 ERA, 34 strikeouts, 19 walks, 52 innings) and Marlo Robinson (1B; .373, 5 RBI, 16 runs).
Top players expected back are juniors Cami Clarkson (SS; .296, 9 RBI, 6 runs), Alyssa Laisure (C; .333, 16 RBI, 9 runs, 9 doubles) and Alex Ronk (CF; .353, 5 RBI, 9 runs) and sophomore Brenna Oliver (P; 2-8, 5.44 ERA, 43 strikeouts, 13 walks, 65 2/3 innings).