Mitchell Okuley used the word “unlucky” to describe what happened to Lancaster when he came up to the plate for the Olentangy Liberty High School baseball team in the bottom of the seventh inning in a Division I regional semifinal May 24 at Dublin Coffman.
After a throwing error by the Patriots in the top of the frame contributed to the Golden Gales tying the score at 2, Okuley came up with one out and smashed a deep shot to right field off reliever Anthony Selhorst.
Lancaster’s Casey Finck collided with the fence as he reached for the ball, which hit off his glove and over the fence for a walk-off solo home run.
The Patriots improved to 27-4 with the 3-2 victory and advanced to play New Albany in the regional final May 25 at Coffman. The Gales finished 20-10.
“I’ve never had a walk-off home run, so it feels good,” Okuley said. “I was just looking for a fastball to hit and I hit it the way I wanted to.”
With the Patriots leading 2-1, pitcher Mitch Milheim walked Jake Richards to open the Lancaster seventh and got Tyler Monk to fly out for the first out.
Milheim then induced a ground ball by A.J. Cook that he fielded and attempted to throw to second to get the lead runner, but the ball went into center field for a throwing error. Then, with runners on second and third, Max Hamilton singled off Milheim to tie the score.
Milheim, who got out of the jam with no further damage, gave up one earned run and just two hits while striking out eight.
The Patriots, who committed three errors in the game, had nine hits, including eight off Lancaster starter Garret Davis over the first six innings.
“(There was) great pitching,” Liberty coach Ty Brenning said. “I thought their guy competed and kept our guys off balance, but we felt offensively we were a few feet one way or another from really opening up a lead and felt like we had a hard time gaining traction offensively or defensively.”
Lancaster took a 1-0 lead on an unearned run in the second inning, but Liberty tied the score at 1 in the third on a sacrifice fly by Brennan Rowe to score Milheim.
The Patriots used small ball to take a 2-1 lead in the fourth. After Corey Mayer led off with a walk and Craig Lutwen singled to center, Connor Osmond laid down a sacrifice bunt to move up both runners.
Justin Nelson then performed a suicide squeeze bunt that scored Mayer. The Gales caught Lutwen leaning off third base after the run scored for the final out of the inning.
“In terms of the game of baseball, just about everything that could go wrong went wrong and I was proud of our guys for their poise and for their competitiveness,” Brenning said.
New Albany 2, Olentangy 1
That Spencer Tammaro was promoted to varsity for New Albany during the regular season is a distant memory for the Eagles’ sophomore outfielder.
So is the fact that he appeared overmatched on the first two pitches of a seventh-inning at-bat against Olentangy’s Nick Foy during a Division I regional semifinal May 24 at Coffman.
However, Tammaro lined an 0-and-2 pitch to left field to score pinch-runners Jack Scharfe and Zach Thomas with the tying and go-ahead runs as the Eagles stunned the Braves.
“I was just down in the count and wanted to take it backside. I was lucky enough to get a good hit,” Tammaro said. “I just came in here and tried to get the job done, get in any way I could and help the team. This is great. I couldn’t have pictured this. Being in this situation, that’s what I always wanted.”
New Albany got half of its six hits in the seventh inning in improving to 20-8. The Eagles will play Liberty in the regional final May 25 at Coffman, seeking their first regional championship since 2004 when they won the Division III state title.
Kevin Fee grounded out to begin the seventh for New Albany. Jake Arenschield then doubled and Alex Arenschield reached on an infield single. Both were lifted for courtesy runners.
Alex Arenschield retired Olentangy in order in the bottom of the seventh.
Caden Kaiser singled in Connor Haag in the second inning for the Braves’ only run.
The loss spoiled a solid outing for Foy, who struck out 11 and surrendered only one walk.
“We had so many opportunities throughout the game to keep adding runs and we didn’t do it,” said Olentangy coach Ryan Lucas, whose team finished 21-10. “We didn’t get a big hit or we missed a squeeze. Those are things we always do really well.”Division II
Dayton Chaminade Julienne 3, Hartley 2
Hartley’s first appearance at the regional level since it won the 1996 Division IV state title ended with a loss to Chaminade Julienne in a Division II regional semifinal May 24 at Mason.
The Hawks tied the score at 2 in the top of the seventh on an RBI single by Anthony Whitney.
But in the bottom of the frame, the Eagles had runners on the corners with two out when Sebastian Gongora produced the game-winning hit with a bloop single to right.
Jacob Culbertson pitched the first 5 1/3 innings and Luke Rawlins finished the game on the mound for Hartley, which finished 19-8.
Chaminade Julienne, which was the state runner-up last season, improved to 23-5.
“The kids fought and played great,” Hawks coach Chris Sawyer said. “We battled them and were just inches away from going to extra innings.”
—Jarrod UlreyDivision III
Columbus Academy 4, Archbold 3
Faced with a 3-1 deficit heading into the bottom of the seventh, Academy rallied to beat Archbold in a Division III regional semifinal May 24 at Elida Middle School to keep its state title hopes alive.
Davis Friedman drove in the tying and winning runs with a bases-loaded, two-out single, as the Vikings improved to 18-13 and advanced to the regional final against Coldwater on May 25 in Elida.
Nick Rothmann ignited the seventh-inning rally with a one-out walk. After Ryan Mitchell walked, Archbold’s Rigo Ramos relieved starting pitcher Brandon Miller. Hayden Compton then reached on a fielder’s choice, followed by walks by Max Driesbach and Evan Scott to force in the second run.
Friedman, who had four hits in the game, then lined an 0-and-2 pitch over leaping second baseman Bryce Williams for the game-winning hit.
“I thought he might surprise me at 0-2 and give me one at least on the plate,” Friedman said. “I was looking for it and I took it backside and I was lucky. It was over the second baseman’s glove. I thought he might catch it, but then I realized it was over his glove and it was celebration. We battled all day. With us, it’s just about the process. One pitch at a time.”
Driesbach’s sacrifice fly scored Mitchell with the Vikings’ first run in the sixth.
Matthew Saling earned the win in relief. Noah Glimcher went the first six-plus innings for the Vikings, allowing three runs on three hits.