Jon Pierce was in a rut on the mound, so he looked for some help.
The senior right-hander for the Grandview Heights High School baseball team went to his personal pitching coach to find some answers. The effects of those lessons helped keep the Bobcats in the hunt for the MSL-Ohio Division championship.
Pierce threw four innings of relief without surrendering an earned run as Grandview edged Columbus Academy 9-8 in eight innings May 1 in its final league contest of the season.
"My pitching is the strongest part of my game, but I have been giving up too many walks," said Pierce, whose team was 18-4 overall before playing Grove City Christian on May 6. "I took a lesson with my pitching coach (Randy Beam) a couple weeks ago. I was rushing down the mound (on my delivery). I was late with my arm and I was throwing it high. I was able to fix that."
Pierce, who was Jon Vetter before being adopted by his stepfather, Arthur Pierce III, did not play with the Bobcats until his junior season; he attended Watterson during his first two years of high school. Pierce said he decided to attend the school in his home district because of playing summer ball in Grandview.
"I had family who graduated from here and I have a cousin (Tayler Pierce) who goes here now," he said. "I played baseball with some of the guys and it sounded good to be able to go here. The education is great here. The teaching here is a lot more hands on."
Through 21 games, Pierce was 5-3 with a 4.52 ERA, 39 strikeouts and 28 walks in 26 1/3 innings. He was batting .267 with 14 RBI, nine runs and four stolen bases.
"Jon brings a lot of energy and confidence," coach Tyler Fitzgerald said. "The prototypical Grandview athlete plays two or three sports, but Jon has honed in on baseball and made it his sport. When we find ourselves in close ballgames, we're not afraid to go to him.
"Jon has confidence in his pitches. Baseball is his No. 1 sport and first love, and he has aspirations to play in college."
Pierce said he has spoken to Ohio Christian about playing there because it has a good program for education majors.
When entering a game late in a jam, Pierce tries to keep his approach simple.
"My focus going in like that is throw strikes and then focus on hitting spots," he said. "If you have a strong mental composition, you can get through it. You can block out the moment, and you have to focus on throwing strikes and getting ahead in the count."
Pierce's outing against Academy included seven strikeouts and five walks, and he threw the eighth inning during a downpour. Joey Bertani doubled in Gavin Van Horn in the bottom of the eighth for the winning run.
The Bobcats finished 6-2 in the MSL-Ohio and entered the week percentage points behind Bexley, which was 5-1 before playing Worthington Christian on May 6 and 8. One loss by the Lions ensured at least a tie for the league championship, and two losses would give Grandview the outright title.
"No matter the outcome, I'm proud of the way the boys have played," said Fitzgerald, whose team last won a league championship when it captured three consecutive MSL-Cardinal titles from 2007-09. "Right now, we're going to have our best finish in 10 years, and we have to get ready for the tournament."
The Bobcats are seeded fourth for the Division III district tournament behind top-seeded West Jefferson, second-seeded East Knox and third-seeded Fredericktown. They have a first-round bye before playing host to ninth-seeded Northridge or 12th-seeded Marion Pleasant on May 16 in the second round.
Track teams compete in MSL-Ohio meet
The boys and girls track and field teams conclude the MSL-Ohio meet Friday, May 10, at Whitehall. The opening day of competition was May 7.
Grandview competes in a Division III district meet beginning Tuesday, May 14, and concluding May 18 at Watkins Memorial. The top four finishers in each event will advance to regional May 22 and 24 at Fairfield Union.
The Bobcats warmed up for the league meet by defeating visiting Fairbanks and Hamilton Township on April 30.
Tayler Pierce set the girls program record while winning the high jump (5 feet, 3 1/2 inches) as the Bobcats won with 83 points, ahead of runner-up Hamilton Township (37). Whitney Schaefer won the 100-meter hurdles (16.58 seconds) and 300 hurdles (47.44).
Colin Haj Abed won the 110 hurdles (16.06) and 300 hurdles (43.88) as the boys scored 76 points to finish ahead of second-place Hamilton Township (45).
Softball squad begins postseason
The 10th-seeded softball team opened the Division IV district tournament May 6 at sixth-seeded Newark Catholic.
The winner played at second-seeded Berne Union on May 8 in the second round, and that winner advanced to a district semifinal Monday, May 13, against third-seeded Morral Ridgedale, fourth-seeded Fairfield Christian, 13th-seeded Granville Christian or 14th-seeded Harvest Prep at a neutral site.
The district final is May 17 or 18 at Pickerington Central.
The Bobcats finished the regular season 5-18 overall and 2-7 in the MSL-Ohio.
Boys tennis team heads into postseason
The boys tennis team will compete in a Division II sectional tournament Thursday, May 9, and Saturday, May 11, at Academy.
Senior Brett Holcomb, junior Calvin Horning and freshman Max Lauer will play singles. The doubles teams will be senior Adam Cincione and junior Bryan Gilleland and senior Patrick Rowland and freshman Keegan Kearney.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to district May 16 at Academy and May 18 at Reynoldsburg.
The Bobcats were 10-4 overall and 1-3 in the MSL-Ohio before playing Wellington on May 7.