The Upper Arlington High School baseball team did its best to take things in stride during a Division I district final against defending state champion Olentangy Liberty on May 22 at Dublin Coffman.
After watching the fourth-seeded Patriots rally from a three-run deficit and tie the game in the bottom of the sixth inning on a catcher’s interference call, the seventh-seeded Golden Bears ended up on the other side of an umpire’s call in the top of the seventh, scoring the decisive run in a 4-3 victory on a balk.
UA, which won its first district championship since 2010, improved to 20-9 and advanced to play New Albany in a regional semifinal May 30 at Coffman. Liberty finished 23-6.
“It’s been nine years since we’ve won a district, and it feels really good,” Bears senior catcher Sammy Sass said.
UA took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Charlie Fleming drove in Sass. The Bears added two runs in the third, scoring one on an RBI double by Andrew Whetsell and the other on a groundout.
Liberty scored two runs in the fourth on an RBI double by pitcher Jack Metzger and a sacrifice fly by Craig Lutwen.
In the sixth, Corbin Parrish and Metzger opened with walks and moved up on a wild pitch. After UA pitcher Ethan Hammerberg struck out Andrew Rodriguez, Lutwen flew out to Ben Krimm in right field. Parrish tagged up from third base but Krimm’s throw beat him home. However, Sass was called for catcher’s interference for blocking the plate, allowing Parrish to score the tying run.
In the top of the seventh, UA’s Tommy Dilz singled and moved to third on a single by Sass. Metzger then was called for a balk, allowing Dilz to score what turned out to be the winning run.
In the bottom of the seventh, Mitchell Okuley drew a one-out walk but was picked off first base. Brennan Rowe then struck out to end the game.
“I want to play up what amazing kids we have,” Liberty coach Ty Brenning said. “I thought our kids battled.”
New Albany 1, Gahanna 0
New Albany’s Nick Shroyer had a pretty idea what he might see from Gahanna pitcher Mason Weber with a district championship on the line May 22 at Ohio Dominican.
In the bottom of the seventh, Shroyer smacked a first-pitch fastball to left field to score courtesy runner Jack Scharfe to propel the top-seeded Eagles past the fifth-seeded Lions, capping a pitchers’ duel that took only 1 hour, 12 minutes to play.
The Eagles outhit the Lions 5-2 to capture their second consecutive district title.
“I knew he wasn’t going to hang a curveball at me. I knew it’d be a fastball, so I attacked it,” said Shroyer, who went 2-for-3 with a double. “I just wanted to be aggressive. I didn’t want to regret anything. I was swinging at anything and luckily it was over the plate and I was able to push it through.”
Brock Tibbitts singled to center field to lead off the seventh. Scharfe, running for Tibbitts, stole second base and advanced to third on Kevin Fee’s bunt single. Jack Sokol then was intentionally walked to load the bases, bringing up Shroyer.
Mike Sokol struck out five and walked two in a complete-game performance for New Albany, which improved to 27-1 and will play UA in a regional semifinal May 30 at Coffman.
“Mike was phenomenal. He really stepped up,” Eagles coach Dave Starling said. “To see the guys experience this, I am so happy for them. They’ve been exceptional young men all year. We’ve played a lot of close games like this.”
Weber walked two and struck out three.
Luke Baker and Alex Streitenberger each singled for Gahanna, which finished 19-8.
“I knew that pitching was going to be premium and we had to try to scratch for a couple runs,” Lions coach Mike Shade said. “I thought if we could (get a couple runs), we had a chance, but (Sokol) was very good today."
—Dave PurpuraDivision II
Licking Valley 5, Hartley 0
Fifth-seeded Licking Valley scored one run in both the third and fifth innings before putting away top-seeded Hartley with a three-run sixth in a Division II district final May 22 at Olentangy Orange.
The Hawks finished 21-6, while the Panthers improved to 21-8 and advanced to play Steubenville in a regional semifinal May 30 at Ohio University.
Matt McElligott pitched a complete game for Hartley, striking out seven, but the Hawks committed four errors, including three in the sixth.
Licking Valley’s Logan White had an RBI single in the third and an RBI double in the fifth in support of pitcher Logan Bragg, who scattered five hits and recorded four strikeouts.