The Watkins Memorial High School baseball team advanced to a Division I district final behind the arm of senior pitcher Danny Sexton.

The Watkins Memorial High School baseball team advanced to a Division I district final behind the arm of senior pitcher Danny Sexton.

The senior pitched a four-hitter as the third-seeded Warriors defeated eighth-seeded Olentangy Liberty 2-1 in a district semifinal May 21 to improve to 22-6 and advance to play 14th-seeded Marysville in a district final May 23.

The district champion faces Pickerington North or Hilliard Darby in a regional semifinal at 2 p.m. Thursday, May 30, at Dublin Coffman. The semifinal winner will play Olentangy Orange, Gahanna, Thomas Worthington or Grove City in a regional final at 5 p.m. Friday, May 31, at Coffman.

The regional champion advances to a state semifinal June 7 at Huntington Park.

"We definitely want to play in the regional. That's one of our goals," Sexton said. "We've been in a lot of close games and I think it prepared us for situations like (the win over Liberty). We just stick together and make things happen."

Watkins Memorial beat Thomas 2-1 on April 6 and defeated Grove City 11-10 on April 13 but was swept by Orange in OCC-Capital Division play, losing 5-2 on May 6 and 3-2 on May 8. The Warriors have not played Pickerington North, Darby or Gahanna this season.

Pickerington North was the top seed in the district. Orange and Thomas were seeded second and fourth, respectively. Gahanna (sixth) and Grove City (seventh) also were seeded in the top seven and Darby was seeded 13th.

"There are no easy games left when you reach the district semis," coach Don Schone said. "It was ace versus ace (against Liberty) and we did just enough to win. (Liberty junior pitcher and Ohio State recruit Jacob Niggemeyer) threw an excellent game and so did Danny. That's what we'll see the rest of the tournament."

The Warriors took a 2-1 lead against Liberty in the bottom of the fifth inning when right fielder Austin Swick hit a one-out single to left field and center fielder Tony Winters followed with a triple to center field.

"I was down in the count 0-2 after two offspeed pitches and I think (Niggemeyer) thought he could sneak (a fastball) by me," Winters said. "But I was ready for it."

Watkins Memorial missed an opportunity to pad its lead in the sixth. Second baseman Jordan Miller led off with a walk and catcher Derek Helbing followed with a double, putting runners at second and third with no outs. However, Niggemeyer struck out the next three batters to end the scoring threat.

Liberty also missed scoring opportunities. The Patriots had two runners on with one out in the sixth and a runner on third with one out in the seventh, but Sexton pitched out of the both jams. He induced a groundball and a soft line drive to get the final two outs in the sixth and struck out the final two batters to end the game.

"When we didn't add a few runs when we had the chance, I was a little concerned," Winters said. "But when they led off the seventh with a double over my head, I was cursing under my breath and having a mini-heart attack. Thankfully, Danny stayed poised and pulled us through."

Sexton said missed scoring opportunities are part of the game.

"You can't worry about the previous inning," he said. "Whether it was 2-1 or 4-1, I still had a job to do.

"After the double, I looked around and saw my teammates and said, 'I've gotta get this done.'"

The Warriors trailed Liberty 1-0 before scoring a run in the bottom of the fourth. After first baseman Steven Asbury drew a two-out walk and Miller singled to move Asbury to third, a pickoff throw by Niggemeyer eluded Patriots first baseman Max Gunn, allowing Asbury to score. Miller had two of the Warriors' five hits against Niggemeyer.

Track teams begin postseason

The track and field teams competed in the Division I district meet last week at Darby.

The boys team competed in the 16-team district 2 meet held May 21, 22 and 25 and the girls team competed in the 16-team district 3 meet held May 22, 23 and 25.

The top four finishers in each district event advanced to the regional meet Wednesday, May 29, and Friday, May 31, at Pickerington North. The top four finishers in each regional event advance to the state meet June 7 and 8 at Ohio State.

The boys team competed in the field events May 21. Winning district titles were Hunter Holton in the high jump (6 feet, 4 inches) and Brandon Oney in the pole vault (13-0).

Also qualifying for regional were Nic Eader in the shot put (second, 50-1 1/2) and discus (second, 154-6), Kyle Ellinger in the pole vault (second, 12-6), Jerrod Lyon in the long jump (third, 20-5 3/4) and Jake Sanders in the shot put (fourth, 47-1),

Watkins Memorial competed in the OCC-Capital meet May 16 and 18 at Hilliard Bradley.

The boys team scored 173 points to place second, behind New Albany (182) and ahead of Big Walnut (81), Olentangy (69), Delaware (52.5), Orange (41.5), Mount Vernon (37) and Franklin Heights (25).

Finishing first were Eader in the shot put (52-11 1/2) and discus (157-10), Lyon in the long jump (21-3), Chance Abbitt in the 400 meters (49.8 seconds) and the 1,600 relay of Abbitt, Vinny Anderson, Ethan George and Desmond Melson (3:24.71).

Placing second were Holton in the high jump (6-5) and 110 hurdles (15.53), George in the 300 hurdles (39.45), Mike McKean in the 1,600 (4:30.82), Austin Dowis in the 800 (2:04.08) and Donovan Garrison in the 200 (22.39).

Finishing third were George in the 110 hurdles (15.74), Connor Severino in the 400 (51.7), Nick Hix in the 300 hurdles (41.27), Oney in the pole vault (13-0) and the 400 (44.19) and 3,200 (8:34.42) relays.

The girls team finished third (109.5) in the OCC-Capital meet, behind New Albany (153) and Big Walnut (124.5) and ahead of Orange (79.5), Olentangy (70.5), Franklin Heights (50), Mount Vernon (46) and Delaware (27).

Josie Woosley won the 1,600 (5:18.55) and Stephanie Robb won the 800 (2:20.52). Placing second were Woosley in the 3,200 (12:33.29), Rachel Lawwell in the 400 (1:01.49) and the 800 relay (1:45.45).

Finishing third were the 400 (51.52), 1,600 (4:11.02) and 3,200 (9:56.53) relays.

At the Division I, district 3 meet May 23, freshman Sammie Miller finished third in the pole vault (9-6) to advance.

Season ends for boys tennis team

No members of the boys tennis team qualified for the Division I district tournament held May 24 and 25 at Hilliard Davidson.

Watkins Memorial competed in the sectional tournament May 16 and 18 at Reynoldsburg, where the top four finishers in singles and doubles advanced to district.

Dylan Clear was the only Warriors player to win a match. The senior beat Dublin Jerome's Tyler Stohr 6-3, 6-2 in the first round before losing to Pickerington North's Franco Platania 6-2, 6-2 in the second round.

Seniors Max Nader and Austin Williams both were eliminated in the first round in singles. Nader lost to Reynoldsburg's Brandon Person 6-3, 6-1 and Williams lost to Lancaster's Ben Triplett 7-5, 6-3.

In doubles, senior Jordan Parks and junior Ryan Cash lost to North's Ben Keen and Blaine Carr 6-0, 6-1 in the first round and junior Andy Lyons and sophomore Derek Clear lost to Lancaster's Trevor Cohen and Creg Quay 6-0, 6-1 in the opening round.

Watkins Memorial finished 11-7 overall and went 3-4 in the OCC-Capital. The Warriors finished the league tournament May 11 at Olentangy with 35 points to tie Big Walnut (3-4) and Delaware (3-4) for fourth, behind New Albany (82, 7-0), Olentangy (55, 6-1) and Orange (53, 5-2) and ahead of Mount Vernon (16, 1-6) and Franklin Heights (2, 0-7).