Tyler Brown used his right arm and his bat to power the Olentangy Orange High School baseball team to its first regional championship.
Brown tossed a four-hitter in a 5-0 win over Hilliard Darby in a semifinal May 26 at Dublin Coffman before doubling in the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning to defeat Gahanna 4-3 in the final May 27 on the same diamond.
The Vanderbilt signee said the Pioneers' camaraderie carried them into their first Division I state semifinal.
"For the last two years, we fell short of what we wanted to do and this year we have been building things up around brothers and brotherhood," Brown said of Orange previously failing to advance from district play. "Every single one of us played a part in this. We all had to show up together to win this."
The Pioneers improved to 23-8 and advanced to play Strongsville (22-8) in a state semifinal at 7 p.m. Friday, June 2, at Huntington Park. The Mustangs defeated Medina 3-2 in their regional final May 27.
The state final is 7 p.m. Saturday, June 3, at Huntington Park against top-ranked Massillon Jackson (28-1) or seventh-ranked West Chester Lakota West (25-5).
"We have been playing great baseball," coach Phil Callaghan said. "We always knew we had good pitching, but we're putting good defense behind that and getting timely hits."
Against Gahanna, Brown doubled off the top of the center-field fence to complete the Pioneers' rally from an early three-run deficit. Jason Schutte scored from second base.
"I thought it was gone, but since there weren't any outs I waited there to see if (the center fielder) was going to catch it," said Schutte, who singled three times. "I didn't want to run us out of an inning. I took off and made sure that I touched home plate. You can't beat a walk-off like this."
Matt Poole spotted the Lions a 3-0 lead after three, but held them in check from that point. The right-hander finished with three strikeouts and one walk.
"Our pitching coach (Mike Weaver) was telling me to stay focused on every pitch and get outs," Poole said. "I knew we could battle back."
Brown struck out nine against Darby.
"I just threw the ball up there because I have trust in my team behind me," he said. "We have been building trust in the team all year. We believe in each other and what we can do."
Cole Callaghan was 3-for-3 with three singles and scored twice to lead an 11-hit attack.
Track teams set
records at regional
The boys track and field team advanced all four of its relays to the Division I state meet Friday, June 2, and Saturday, June 3, at Ohio State thanks to record-setting performances in the regional that concluded May 26 at Pickerington North.
T.J. Coates, Tyler King, Christian Wright and Zach Harrison finished second in the 1,600-meter relay (program-record 3 minutes, 19.96 seconds), and Joel Sarpong, Coates, Harrison and Kevin Acheampong were runners-up in the 800 relay (program-record 1:27.21).
The 3,200 relay of Tommy Heiden, Tyler King, Andrew Schroff and Hunter Moore was third in a program-record 7:56.04, and the 400 relay of Brandon Ransom, Harrison, Sarpong and Jayden Rodgers was fourth in a program-record 42.21.
The top four finishers in each event qualified for state. Orange finished third (62 points) behind Thomas Worthington (73) and Pickerington Central (67) as 37 teams scored.
"We had a great night in what was the toughest region in the state," coach Adam Walters said. "Everyone who made it out should be happy, and getting all four relays out is great."
The Pioneers also had two individual runner-up finishes -- Rodgers in the 110 hurdles (program-record 14.4) and Moore in the 3,200 (9:02.51).
Nate Roush was fourth in the pole vault (13 feet).
Coates also set a program record of 48.68 while placing fifth in the 400.
The girls team will have three competitors at state, including senior Anna Watson, who won the pole vault in a meet-record 12-8 after winning the district title in a state-record 13-6 1/4. After sealing the regional title, the Indiana recruit had the bar moved to 13-7, but missed all three attempts.
Watson is the defending state champion after clearing 13-4 last spring.
"Going in as a state champion, I think there might be more pressure," she said. "People are expecting me to do well. I just have to keep that out of my head and just go out and do what I need to do."
Sophomores Grace Frye and Allison Guagenti also qualified for state. Guagenti was runner-up in the 1,600 (program-record 4:56.86), and Frye was third in the discus (personal-best 129-6).
Orange finished fourth (38) behind champion Gahanna (97) as 35 teams scored.
The Pioneers also had a pair of relays set program records. The 400 relay of Brenda Agyekum, Angel Frye, Ahtiona Carter and Grace Frye was fifth in 48.71, and the 1,600 relay of Grace Frye, Brynna Johnson, Angel Frye and Elizabeth Schneider was sixth in 3:55.74.
Boys lacrosse team
falls to Olentangy
The boys lacrosse team lost at second-seeded Olentangy 14-2 on May 24 in a Division I, Region 1 semifinal.
Nick Brandt and Josh Rochon scored for the third-seeded Pioneers, who finished 13-6.
Boys tennis team
achieves main goal
The boys tennis team captured its first league championship and had a doubles team come within one win of reaching the Division I state tournament.
Junior David Phelps and sophomore Alex Heiden went 1-1 in doubles in the district tournament May 18 at Hilliard Davidson, losing their state-qualifying match.
Orange won the OCC-Buckeye Division at 5-0, followed by Olentangy (4-1), Liberty (3-2), Westerville North (2-3), Westerville Central (1-4) and Westerville South (0-5).
"Winning OCC was our primary goal for the season as a team," said fifth-year coach Matt Rutherford, whose team finished 13-3 overall. "All the boys played very consistently this season and our (3-2 league) win over Olentangy (on May 3) was a strong one. ... This was a season where character was tested and I love the way the boys matured and came together."
Heiden and Phelps won a sectional championship. Also in the sectional lineup were seniors Kyle Brace and Neel Mansukhani and sophomore Zach Shaver in singles, and the doubles team of juniors David Cavote and Tejas Venkatachalam.
The girls lacrosse team had a season of "ups and downs," finishing 6-13 overall after losing at third-seeded Liberty 20-6 on May 19 in a Division I, Region 1 quarterfinal.
The sixth-seeded Pioneers were fourth (4-3) in the OCC-Buckeye behind New Albany (7-0), Liberty (6-1) and Olentangy (5-2) and ahead of Central (3-4), North (2-5), Big Walnut (1-6) and South (0-7).
"This was probably the most challenging season I have ever had and that includes my playing days," third-year coach Megan Noone said. "The highlight of the season was seeing the girls' perseverance. We had many ups and downs, but they never gave up."
Attacker Brooke Delara (second-team all-region) and midfielder Alex Lowry (honorable mention all-region) led a six-player senior class.
Junior midfielder Kailee O'Brien was first-team all-region. Also expected to return are juniors Lauren Clary (attacker) Regan Keane (midfielder) and Corynn Schneider (goalkeeper), sophomore Grace McAninch (goalie) and freshman Hannah Brown (midfielder).