Local bragging rights will have to be put on hold for the Westerville Central, North and South high school baseball teams after the Westerville Baseball Classic was postponed last Saturday after only one game was completed.
South beat Central 4-2 in the opener before the Central-North game was postponed with the score tied at 7 heading into the top of the fifth inning. The remainder of the Central-North game and the North-South game will be played on separate dates, though those dates have not been determined. All three have turned their attention toward making strides within their league standings as they head into the second half of the regular season.
"The Westerville Classic is a lot of fun for the community and everyone looks forward to it all season," South coach Tim Bates said. "But now that we're moving on, we're going to get back to focusing on the rest of our schedule, especially the conference games."
South will play host Monday to Olentangy and visiting Worthington Kilbourne on Wednesday in two key OCC-Cardinal Division games. The Wildcats, who haven't won a league title since 1983, lost to Olentangy 4-1 on April 9 and to Kilbourne 10-3 on April 14.
"We need to have more timely hitting than we had against these teams the first time we played them," Bates said. "We had the bases loaded with no outs when we were down 6-2 against Worthington Kilbourne, and we ended up getting only one run out of that situation. That could have been a completely different game if we could've gotten a few timely hits."
After picking up wins over Newark 15-14 in eight innings April 17 and Central, Bates is hoping the Wildcats can maintain their momentum throughout the rest of the season.
South scored four runs in the bottom of the eighth against Newark. Against Central, Jared White gave up seven hits and struck out five, Derek Landes hit a two-run home run and Brad Prewitt drove in a run with a single.
"Winning those two games against quality opponents has given us a boost right when we needed it," Bates said.
Central will play OCC-Central games Monday at Pickerington North and Wednesday at home against Central Crossing. It beat Central Crossing 1-0 on April 14 and lost to North 12-7 on April 9.
"I'm confident that we're going to do well next week, because we've got some positive things going for us," Central senior Ben Buchanan said. "We have good pitching and some good bats. It's just a matter of putting it all together."
Coach Jeff Keifer is eager for the Warhawks to turn their attention toward the rest of their schedule after their game against North was postponed. Keifer is a 1986 North graduate and was the Warriors coach the past five seasons.
"I've been thinking about this day for a long time, but I wasn't flooded by emotions like I thought I might be," Keifer said. "Once we took the field it was just another baseball game for the most part."
There were a few amusing moments, though. When North senior Matt Workman was batting against Central, Warhawks assistant Eric Nickel -- a former North assistant -- starting encouraging Workman before realizing he was instructing the wrong team.
"I was afraid I might accidentally do something like that after being there so long," Keifer said. "It's funny because I noticed one of North's kids was listening and reacting to me when I was calling out a play because he was used to hearing the sound of my voice. I guess it's fitting that we finished in a tie because both teams wanted to win this game equally as badly."
North beat Hilliard Davidson 6-4 on April 16, hand the Wildcats their first loss after they opened 10-0.
"We just beat one of the better teams in central Ohio and maybe the entire state, so our confidence is really high now," Workman said. "We weren't hitting the way we should early in the season, but we're ready to turn that around."
The Warriors will play OCC-Buckeye games Monday at Grove City and Wednesday at home against Upper Arlington. North beat Grove City 14-0 on April 9, but lost to UA 8-5 on April 14. The Warriors stranded 12 runners against the Golden Bears, who were 0-6 entering that contest.
"We've had Grove City's number the past few years, but we know that they're a better team than we saw the first time we played them," said Workman, whose team last won an OCC title in 2003. "Upper Arlington had more clutch hits than we did. We're disappointed that we didn't get to finish our game against Central, but our league games are our No. 1 focus right now."
(Left) Jamie Lee Nickel, 5, enjoys a lollipop with one in reserve as she sits on the lap of her mother, Jenny.
At a glance
Below are the results and coming schedule for the Central, North and South baseball teams:
*April 14 -- Defeated Central Crossing 1-0. Ben Buchanan pitched a one-hitter.
*April 16 -- Lost to Thomas Worthington 9-2
April 17 -- Lost to Teays Valley 7-2
Last Saturday -- Lost to South 4-2; game against North postponed
*Last Monday -- Played Marysville
*Last Wednesday -- Played Delaware
Today -- Home vs. Licking Valley
Saturday -- Home vs. Dublin Jerome and Olentangy Liberty
*Monday -- At Pickerington North
Tuesday -- At Westland
*Wednesday -- At Central Crossing
Of note: The Warhawks were 7-6 overall and 2-2 in the OCC-Central before last Monday.
*April 14 -- Lost to Upper Arlington 8-5
April 15 -- Lost to Hilliard Darby 2-1
*April 16 -- Def. Hilliard Davidson 6-4.
Last Saturday -- Games against Central and South postponed
*Last Monday -- Lost to Coffman 2-1
*Last Tuesday -- Played Reynoldsburg
*Last Wednesday -- Played Reynoldsburg
Friday -- At Worthington Kilbourne
Saturday -- At Thomas Worthington vs. Canal Winchester and Thomas
*Monday -- At Grove City
*Wednesday -- Home vs. UA
Of note: The Warriors were 3-5 overall and 2-2 in the OCC-Buckeye before last Tuesday.
*April 14 -- Lost to Kilbourne 10-3
*April 16 -- Lost to Pickerington Central 17-4
April 17 -- Def. Newark 15-14
Last Saturday -- Def. Central 4-2; game against North postponed
*Last Monday -- Lost to Jerome 2-0
Last Tuesday -- Played Amanda-Clearcreek
*Last Wednesday -- Played Mount Vernon
Saturday -- Home vs. Liberty and Delaware
*Monday -- Home vs. Olentangy
*Wednesday -- At Kilbourne
Of note: The Wildcats were 6-4 overall before last Tuesday and 1-4 in the OCC-Cardinal before last Wednesday.