The Bexley High School baseball team climbed back to the top of the MSL-Ohio Division, but it entered the week with bigger goals in mind.
The 12th-seeded Lions opened the Division II district tournament against 15th-seeded Eastmoor Academy on May 14 at home, with the winner playing at top-seeded Hartley on Thursday, May 16, in the second round.
Bexley played Hartley on April 2 in a game that the players and coach Andrew Orlins would rather forget. The Lions committed five errors in a 13-4 loss.
"When we played them the first time, we didn't play well defensively," Orlins said. "If we had just played defense from the first inning on, we would have been in that game.
"We hit the ball well and pitched the ball well, but we didn't field well. We're playing much better defensively now. We have made a lot of improvements defensively since then."
The second-round winner plays seventh-seeded DeSales or 20th-seeded Columbus East in a district semifinal Monday, May 20, at a neutral site. Bexley lost to DeSales 7-6 on April 30.
The district final is Wednesday, May 22, at a neutral site. Possible opponents include second-seeded Lakewood and fifth-seeded Licking Valley. The district champion advances to a regional semifinal May 30 at Ohio University.
The Lions defeated Worthington Christian 8-1 on May 6 and 2-1 on May 8 to earn the outright MSL-Ohio championship, and their fifth league title in six seasons. Last spring, they tied Grandview and Worthington Christian for third (5-5) behind champion London (8-2), which now plays in the Central Buckeye Conference.
"It means a lot (to win the league) considering last year against London, which came back and beat us on a walk-off," senior outfielder Jacob Wright said. "We have come back this year a couple times in the seventh inning and had a few walk-offs. It shows how much we battle and that we don't get down on ourselves."
Bexley finished 7-1 in the league, ahead of runner-up Grandview (6-2). It was 15-11 overall after losing to Chillicothe Zane Trace 7-4 and 16-3 in five innings May 11.
"It's really good to win it because we have a pretty big senior class," said senior pitcher Vinny Pernotto, who struck out nine without a walk in the 8-1 win over the Warriors to clinch at least a share of the title. "I think we have been playing really well. Our pitchers have been throwing strikes and we have been fielding well. I think our confidence level is pretty high right now."
Senior catcher Matthew Shapiro said the Lions were playing their best heading into the postseason.
"It feels great to reclaim that (MSL-Ohio) title and assert our dominance in the league," he said. "But we want to win a district title. That's much more important to us.
"I feel like everyone is comfortable in the positions that they are playing and everyone trusts each other. That's huge for us to be able to trust everyone where they are."
Track teams begin district competition
The boys and girls track and field teams began the postseason in the Division II, district 1 meet May 14 and 15 at Westerville North. The meet concludes Saturday, May 18, at the same site, with the top four finishers in each event advancing to regional May 23 and 25 at Lexington.
In the MSL-Ohio meet May 7 and 10 at Whitehall, the girls finished second (81 points) behind Grandview (105) and the boys were fourth (49) behind the champion and host Rams (104).
For the girls, Hannah Hayden, Maria Steinke, Claire MacDonald and Karleigh Place won the 3,200-meter relay (9 minutes, 54.9 seconds). MacDonald (11:48.98) and Hayden (11:49.03) took the top two spots in the 3,200, and Caroline Bunker, Samantha Nack, Ellie Owen and Place were on the second-place 1,600 relay (4:27.07).
Freddie Collins won the discus (118 feet, 6 inches) and Nya Harris was first in the shot put (37-8). Lucy Powers was runner-up in the long jump (14-5).
For the boys, Miles Feinknopf, Nicholas Hall, Grant Halliday and Spencer Stevenson won the 3,200 relay (8:13.98). Hunter Johnson placed second in the discus (121-7 1/2).
Lions advance six to district tennis
The boys tennis team will have two singles players and both of its doubles teams competing in the Division II district tournament Thursday, May 16, at Columbus Academy and Saturday, May 18, at Reynoldsburg.
The top two finishers in singles and doubles advance to state May 24 and 25 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
Christian Roddy and Leo Schottenstein were runners-up in doubles in a sectional May 9 and 11 at Columbus School for Girls. They went 3-1, losing to Wellington's Griffin Biernat and Milan Gonela 2-6, 6-1, 7-5 in the final.
Thibault Knox-Kelly teamed with Aaron Young to go 2-2 in doubles and place fourth, falling to Wellington's Ben Marshall and Anarag Reddy 6-1, 7-6 (7-4) in the consolation final.
Jordan Koppes finished third in singles, defeating teammate Will Meyer 7-5, 6-2 in the consolation final.
Nolan Winston went 1-1 in singles but did not advance to district.
Girls lacrosse squad begins postseason
The 10th-seeded girls lacrosse team was 5-10 before opening the postseason against eighth-seeded Big Walnut on May 15 in the first round of the Division II, Region 7 tournament.
The winner advanced to play fifth-seeded Worthington Kilbourne or 12th-seeded Dayton Carroll in a quarterfinal Saturday, May 18, at the home of the better seed. That winner moves on to a regional semifinal Tuesday, May 21, at the home of the better seed, with top-seeded DeSales as a possible opponent.
The regional final is May 24 at a neutral site.
Boys lacrosse team falls to Big Walnut
The boys lacrosse team lost at sixth-seeded Big Walnut 17-0 on May 13 in the first round of the Division II, Region 7 tournament.
The 11th-seeded Lions finished 6-12.
Softball squad falls in second round
The 11th-seeded softball team opened the postseason by winning at 10th-seeded Centennial 1-0 on May 7 in the first round of the Division II district tournament.
Sophomore pitcher Claire Melville tossed a three-hitter.
The Lions then lost at seventh-seeded DeSales 16-1 in five innings May 10 in the second round to finish 10-16. Sophomore catcher Aly Cox hit a solo home run.