Having averaged eight runs in its first 29 games, the Pickerington High School North baseball team kept waiting for an offensive breakthrough in a Division I district final May 22 at Otterbein University.

Having averaged eight runs in its first 29 games, the Pickerington High School North baseball team kept waiting for an offensive breakthrough in a Division I district final May 22 at Otterbein University.

Junior shortstop Justin Childers tripled in the first inning against Hilliard Darby and senior Tyler Pagano (1B/P) walked after a 10-pitch at-bat, but a double play ended the threat.

Two hits in the second also were erased on an inning-ending double play, and in the fourth another double play on a fly ball and a play at home plate shut down North yet again.

Shut out for only the third time, top-seeded North lost to 13th-seeded Darby 2-0 and finished 25-5.

"That's baseball," coach Tim Thomas said. "We had chance after chance after chance and they made the plays. They had (three) double plays. Those are momentum killers. It was a fast-action game, but that's baseball. The kids played hard. They fought.

"I tried to tell the kids the Yankees don't always score runs. The best teams sometimes don't win."

Sophomore pitcher Logan Giddings and Pagano combined to allow only six hits, all singles. Giddings took the loss and finished 8-1.

With North trailing 1-0 in the fourth, Giddings flied out to center fielder Chris Ramsey and senior catcher Matt Poland tried to score on the play. Ramsey's throw was cut off near the mound by Darby first baseman Nate Green, who twirled and threw to catcher Stephen Hernon for the final out of the inning.

Darby pitcher Chase Longwell struck out four, walked two and allowed five hits.

"That's by far the best game I've pitched all year," Longwell said. "I knew I had the defense behind me and that was the difference."

North went 12-2 in the OCC-Ohio Division to win the league title ahead of Pickerington Central (10-4), Grove City (9-5), Gahanna (8-6), Lancaster (8-6), Newark (5-9), Reynoldsburg (4-10) and Groveport (0-14).

The Panthers took a first-round bye in the district tournament then defeated visiting Reynoldsburg 8-1 in the second round May 15 and 22nd-seeded Hilliard Davidson 16-14 in a semifinal May 20 at Dublin Coffman. North took an 11-0 lead in the first inning, when Pagano had a three-run home run and an RBI double.

North dominated league postseason honors, with senior outfielder/pitcher Ryan Miller (.434 average, 23 RBI) named Player of the Year and Thomas named Coach of the Year.

Giddings (46 2/3 innings, 3.04 ERA, 13 walks, 26 strikeouts; .354, 2 HR) and Pagano (.375, 5 HR, 32 RBI) also were first-team all-league, senior infielder Jordan Grubb (.455, 26 RBI) and Poland (.371, 2 HR) were on the second team, junior infielder Hayden Ballog (.417) was special mention and Childers was honorable mention.

Giddings, Miller and Poland were first-team all-district, Grubb and Pagano were on the second team and Ballog was honorable mention. Miller and Poland also were Mizuno all-state.

Five seniors will play in college -- Grubb at Walsh, Miller at Miami University, Kyle Montell (P/OF) at Tiffin, Pagano at Oakland and Poland at Dayton. Montell was injured most of the season.

"What (the seniors) did was incredible," Thomas said. "They have set the bar so high for these underclassmen.

"We have kids who understand that's how you stay consistent, that's how you stay competitive."

Tigers' season was'rollercoaster ride'

Central coach Andy Takos couldn't compliment his team enough when reflecting on his first season, in which the Tigers went 19-8 and lost to Darby 11-4 in a district semifinal May 20 at Olentangy.

"Our season was a rollercoaster ride," Takos said. "We've been through a lot of ups and downs and our kids never gave up the entire year. It's one of those things that we always knew we had the ability to come back."

Central, which was seeded 12th in the district tournament, took a first-round bye and routed Newark 18-3 in five innings in a second-round game May 15 - the seventh time this season the Tigers scored 13 or more runs. They won nine of 11 games before facing Darby, which also defeated Central 15-7 on April 20.

Darby broke the game open with four runs in the fifth and three in the sixth.

Central loses eight seniors, including first-team all-league and first-team all-district pitcher/shortstop Greg Basalyga, a Bowling Green signee. Basalyga batted .425 with two home runs and was 5-3 with a 4.24 ERA and 26 strikeouts and 18 walks in 31 1/3 innings.

Junior pitcher/infielder Kyle Casserly, a Division I recruit, batted a team-high .465 with two home runs, was 3-2 with a 3.00 ERA in 16 1/3 innings and was named first-team all-league.

Senior pitcher/infielder Devon Fisk, also a Bowling Green signee, batted .435 with a team-high three home runs and was 1-1 with a 0.38 ERA in 18 2/3 innings. He was second-team all-league and second-team all-district.

Senior outfielder Sam Laihr was second-team all-league, junior pitcher/outfielder Michael Barnabei was special mention and senior pitcher/infielder Kaleb Foltz was honorable mention.

Freshman pitcher/infielder Clayton Surrell was honorable mention all-district. He was 4-0 with a 1.93 ERA and a save in 25 1/3 innings.

"It was an enjoyable season," Takos said. "Some people might have had a lot of doubts about what we could do, and I think we proved ourselves and set the tone for the underclassmen to step up to the plate now and take it to the next level."