Justin Nelson liked what he saw while standing on third base with the Olentangy Liberty High School baseball team holding a four-run lead in the third inning of the Division I state final against Whitehouse Anthony Wayne on June 2 at Huntington Park.
“They had really bad body language after that,” Nelson said. “We were on fire.”
The latter seemed to be the case throughout the Patriots’ postseason run, which culminated with an 8-1 victory over Anthony Wayne to capture their first state championship.
With the Patriots leading 3-1 after two innings, Corey Mayer walked and courtesy runner A.J. Rausch moved to second on a groundout to open the third. After a single by Connor Osmond put runners on the corners, Nelson smashed a gap-shot to left-center field for a triple that drove in two runs and made it 5-1.
Mitchell Okuley knocked in Nelson with a single up the middle and moved to third on a single by Carson Comer.
Then on a 1-and-1 count to Brennan Rowe, Comer tried to steal second, and on the throw to second, Okuley stole home. Comer then was tagged out later in the play for the third out, but Liberty had 7-1 lead.
In the fifth, Osmond singled, moved to second on a passed ball and scored on a single to left by Nelson.
“How about (Nelson) and the triple?” said coach Ty Brenning, whose team finished the season 30-4 after going 13-13 last year. “Only at Huntington Park. He’s a super versatile player and thrives in competition. He’s a heck of an asset for us.”
Also on his game was pitcher Jack Metzger, although he said he didn’t feel as sharp as in his previous start when he earned the win in the regional final.
Metzger gave up three hits and walked three while striking out seven in a complete-game performance.
“Today, I couldn’t throw (my changeup),” Metzger said. “I had fastball command and my curveball finally showed up.”
Anthony Wayne finished 27-5.
“It’s a proud moment,” Brenning said of winning the state title. “(We just said) be us, play our brand and you don’t have to do anything special. Our depth is our strength, and it’s just fun to watch.”