Coach Scott Todd was philosophical after watching his Central Crossing High School baseball team lose to fifth-seeded Gahanna 10-9 in a Division I district semifinal May 20 at Olentangy.
The 15th-seeded Comets had scored seven runs in the top of the first inning only to see their ace pitcher, junior Tyler Ronevich, leave the game with an injury to his throwing arm after retiring the only batter he faced.
The Lions slowly fought back, scoring the decisive runs with two outs in the bottom of the seventh for the comeback victory.
"That's baseball," said Todd, whose team tied the program record for wins by finishing 18-9 overall, matching the 18-10 team from 2013. "There's no clock and you have to play until you get the last out.
"That's baseball. That's why you play. Things didn't go our way today, but I'm so proud of what we accomplished this year. We had a great senior group and I couldn't be more proud of the way they battled and played for us."
Gahanna took an 8-7 lead with a four-run fifth, but the Comets responded with a rally of their own in the top of the seventh. Junior second baseman Matt Reed was hit by a pitch and moved to second on a single by senior shortstop Austin Woods. Senior designated hitter J.J. Carr grounded to shortstop with Woods being forced at second and Reed taking third.
Junior Joey Repeta pinch-ran for Carr and moved to third on an RBI double by junior outfielder Drew DeYarmon, whose two-base hit scored Reed to tie the game at 8. Ronevich lofted a sacrifice fly to right field, driving in Repeta with the go-ahead run.
"We started off strong and then we went quiet in the middle (innings) but we fought like nobody's business in the seventh, like I knew we would," said DeYarmon, who had two doubles and two RBI. "We went out and played hard, and things didn't go our way in the bottom of the seventh."
Losing pitcher Tyler Dean retired the first two Lions in the bottom of the seventh before walking Evan Wolf and surrendering back-to-back run-scoring doubles to Noah Laurent and Chase Coleman.
"They came through with some clutch hits when they needed to and we came up with clutch hits when we needed them, especially in the top of the seventh," Todd said.
The Comets reached their first district semifinal since 2015 by defeating 16th-seeded Grove City 10-2 on May 15 at home in the second round. It was their 12th win in 13 contests.
Central Crossing finished fourth (8-7) in the OCC-Central Division behind champion Upper Arlington (13-2), and Todd shared league Coach of the Year honors with UA's Sam Clark.
Senior Nash Baker (P/3B: first-team all-league) batted .297 with one home run, 11 RBI and 21 runs. On the mound, he was 5-2 with a 2.55 ERA, 33 strikeouts and 22 walks in 35 2/3 innings.
Carr (special mention all-league) batted .312 with 24 RBI and 15 runs, and Dean (honorable mention all-league) was 4-1 with a 2.97 ERA, 34 strikeouts and 11 walks in 33 innings.
Woods led the Comets in batting average (.338), runs (28) and stolen bases (11) and had 13 RBI. Senior Nathan Havens (OF) batted .271 with eight RBI and five runs, and senior Mannee Wells (OF/INF) batted .240 with 12 RBI, 23 runs and six stolen bases.
"This year's seniors are some of the best leaders that I have ever had," DeYarmon said. "I have been playing with a lot of these guys my whole career and I have known them a while. J.J. Carr has grown to be one of my best friends and one of the most inspirational leaders I have been around. All of these guys are the best bunch of guys I have ever played with."
Ronevich (second-team all-league) was 4-3 with a 3.54 ERA, 53 strikeouts and 33 walks in 55 1/3 innings. At the plate, the Miami University commit batted .321 with 13 RBI and 12 runs.
DeYarmon (honorable mention all-league) batted .329 with one homer, a team-high 26 RBI and 11 runs, and Reed hit .313, eight RBI, 13 runs, eight stolen bases and a team-leading nine doubles.
"We're losing 10 seniors so there are going to be some large holes to fill and a lot of people who will need to work really, really hard in the offseason to grab those spots," Todd said.
Bolanos-Cruz returns to state in discus
Luis Bolanos-Cruz has advanced to the Division I state meet for the third consecutive season for the boys track and field team.
The senior qualified for state in the discus by placing third with a season-best throw of 161 feet on the opening day of competition in the regional meet May 22 at Pickerington North. The top four in each event advanced to state Friday, May 31, and Saturday June 1, at Ohio State.
"I have been throwing very inconsistently, but lately it seems like every meet is better and that's what I've been focusing on," Bolanos-Cruz said. "I know I have the power, I just have to get those technical fixes down to get those big throws. Today it just felt really smooth and went as well as I could have asked for."
Bolanos-Cruz competed in the shot put on the second day of regional at North on May 24, when the running finals also took place.
Last season at state, Bolanos-Cruz placed sixth in the shot put (57-5) and 14th in the discus (154-5). As a sophomore, he finished 16th in the shot put (50-10).
"At the state meet, obviously, we're always going to go in expecting a lot of competition and a lot of people who are going to be pumping out big throws and a lot of people who we don't expect to throw big, but are going to throw big," he said. "You really don't know what to expect, but being there (twice) already is going to help me really zone in on what I need to do instead of focusing on what it's going to take to do and to get on the podium. Right now, I'm just focusing on getting up there."
Abriana Mann competed for the girls team at regional in the 300-meter hurdles, finishing ninth in a personal-best 46.56 seconds.