For the second season in a row, the Reynoldsburg High School baseball team fell one win shy of a Division I district championship.

For the second season in a row, the Reynoldsburg High School baseball team fell one win shy of a Division I district championship.

The Raiders lost to fourth-seeded Westerville Central 12-7 in a district final on May 21 at Olentangy, ending their eight-game winning streak and ending their season with a 16-11 overall record.

Central, which improved to 23-7 in winning its first district title, jumped out to a 10-1 lead on the strength of a four-run fourth inning and a five-run fifth. The Warhawks chased starting pitcher Jeremy Williams in the fifth.

The Raiders scored four runs in the bottom of the fifth to make it 10-5 but got no closer.

Reynoldsburg stranded 13 base runners, leaving the bases loaded in the third and fifth innings.

"That was huge," coach Rob Gravatt said. "We didn't get the job done in those situations and Central did."

"We had opportunities, but that's the game of baseball -sometimes you succeed and sometimes you'll fail," junior first baseman Jeff Murray said. "We had 10 seniors on this team and we didn't want it to end. We had an eight-game winning streak, made it to a district final two years in a row and beat some quality teams to get there."

Reynoldsburg opened the district tournament with a 9-4 win over Whetstone on May 9. The Raiders then beat 11th-seeded Marysville 7-4 in the second round on May 11 and upset third-seeded New Albany 3-0 in a district semifinal on May 19 before falling to Central.

Reynoldsburg got off to a slow start this season, losing four of its first five games, and was 8-10 before starting its winning streak.

The Raiders went 9-5 in the OCC-Ohio Division, winning their final five league games to tie Grove City for third, behind Pickerington North (12-2) and Gahanna (10-4) and ahead of Pickerington Central (8-6), Groveport (3-11), Newark (3-11) and Lancaster (2-12).

Reynoldsburg loses 10 seniors, including two of their top pitchers in Halen Core and Nick Analogue. Core went 3-3 and was named second-team all-league, and Analogue was 5-1.

Other seniors were second baseman Mike Castro (.428 batting average, second-team all-league), center fielder J.C. Gibson (.530, 4 home runs, 39 RBI, OCC-Ohio co-Player of the Year), designated hitter Tommy Nobile (19-game hitting streak), third baseman Jon Sheline (.450, 4 home runs, 31 RBI, second-team all-league), left fielder Taylor Snare (.380, honorable mention all-league) and right fielder Drew Otani.

Senior shortstop/pitcher Weston Weiss, a three-year starter and Youngstown State recruit, missed the entire season because of a shoulder injury.

"I've been with these seniors since they were freshmen and there's a lot of talent there," Gravatt said. "I wish they could be back next year. It's like a family here."

"We accomplished one of our goals (by reaching a district final), but we would have liked to go farther," Gibson said. "It hurts because we are a family, we are all friends, we hang out together. I didn't want to see it end. I guess it just wasn't our time."

Among those expected to return are sophomore catcher Nick Hedrick, junior co-captain Jeff Murray (.400, 4 home runs, 26 RBI, second-team all-league), junior shortstop Ryan Shaw, freshman pitcher Alex Core and Williams, a sophomore.

"We've got players coming back, but it's going to be tough to replace all the seniors," Gravatt said. "The returning players are going to have to make a commitment to step in and do it."

Next school year, Reynoldsburg City Schools is adding another high school building but will keep one varsity team for all sports.

"It will be difficult with two schools," Murray said. "We'll have to work together as a team, but workouts will be different. We'll have a lot of youth and as a senior, I want the team to work on our mental approach, not just conditioning. I want the young guys to keep their heads on straight."