Baseball: Westerville South, New Albany capture Division I district championships
Westerville South 3, Hilliard Darby 2
In a jam in the top of the seventh inning, senior pitcher Logan Hunn worked out of trouble to preserve the biggest win in the history of the South baseball program.
Leading 3-2 on May 26 at home but faced with a first-and-third situation with no outs, Hunn retired the next three Panthers to secure the win and the Wildcats’ first district title.
“The pitch count was high, but I’ve been dealing with that all year,” Hunn said. “I’ve been going seven innings a lot. I just knew that my teammates had my back. We’ve been a family for four years. We have eight seniors and we’ve been family since elementary school. We’ve been working at this for many years and it’s finally here.”
South was district runner-up in 1960, 1961 and 1992.
The fourth-seeded Wildcats improved to 26-3 and will play Olentangy Berlin or Olentangy Orange in a regional semifinal June 3 at Dublin Coffman.
Seventh-seeded Darby finished 23-8.
Hunn went the distance, allowing seven hits while striking out five and walking two.
The Panthers took a 2-0 lead in third on Cam Gilkerson’s RBI single and Alex Chawla’s RBI fielder’s choice.
Max Mullen got the start for Darby and blanked the Wildcats until the fourth, when they struck for three runs.
Ryan Phillips, who began the season batting fifth before being moved to eighth, hit a two-run double to left to tie the game at 2.
Kaden Saunders later singled to left to score Phillips with the go-ahead run.
“I don’t think we’re done,” South coach Tim Bates said. “This team has such a high baseball IQ. They’re at a different level. We have eight seniors and every single one of them is a leader and they just contribute so much to this program.”
Mullen went the first 3 2/3 innings and took the loss, allowing five hits while striking out three and walking two.
Gilkerson pitched 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief.
“For everybody but four teams, it’s going to end that way,” Darby coach Mike Weer said. “We wanted to put ourselves in position to give us a chance to win and we did. Unfortunately, some of those moments went to them.”
New Albany 5, Olentangy Liberty 2
A diving catch by Oliver Cush in left field wrapped up a third consecutive Division I district championship for second-seeded New Albany on May 26.
The Eagles, who will play Grove City or Lancaster in a regional semifinal June 3 at Coffman, fell behind 2-0 in the first but scored three times in the second and added one run apiece in the third and fifth innings.
In the top of the seventh, Liberty shortstop Mason Onate got his third hit of the game, a single to right, with two outs against relief pitcher Andrew Trybus.
Dom Magistrale then slugged a deep drive to left that Cush snagged to end the game.
Ian Hoff pitched the first 5 2/3 to earn the victory, with Trybus closing it out for the save.
The Eagles improved to 25-5 while the fifth-seeded Patriots finished 23-7.
“I’m just so thrilled for these guys, the effort they put into this,” New Albany coach Dave Starling said. “A three-peat in district play is kind of exceptional.”
Liberty led off the game with four consecutive hits, including a bunt single by Magistrale to load the bases and set up a two-run single by Brian Yamokoski.
In the bottom of the second, Hoff led off with a walk, A.C. Clouse doubled to deep left and Ben Clark was hit by pitch. Oliver Shroyer followed with a two-run single, and two errors contributed to the Eagles taking a 3-2 lead.
Hoff added an RBI single in the third and Cush drove in the fifth run on a sacrifice fly in the fifth.
“In the beginning of the game I was trying to look for strikeouts and trying to do everything on my own,” Hoff said. “When I came in in the second inning and from there on, I was trying to let my team do the work and everybody did their jobs. Everything went well from there. We started having timely hitting.”
According to Starling, Hoff found control of his changeup after the rough start.
Liberty stranded two runners in the second and one apiece in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.
“You just don’t have much room for error,” Patriots coach Ty Brenning said. “I thought we hit a lot of barrels that were hard, loud outs. Obviously the one everyone’s going to remember is the last out of the game. The New Albany left fielder made one of the best catches I’ve seen in several years.”
Bloom-Carroll 4, DeSales 3
Connor Huzicka had two of 10th-seeded DeSales’ six hits in a Division II district final May 26 and Matthew Stewart scattered nine hits in six innings, but top-seeded Bloom-Carroll held off the Stallions by one run for the second time in 18 days.
Cedric Stewart and Huzicka had RBI doubles in the second and fourth innings, respectively, and Niko Kreuzer’s sacrifice fly made it 4-3 in the seventh before a double play ended the game.
DeSales, which also lost to Bloom-Carroll 4-3 on May 8, finished 12-18-1 and was seeking its first district title since 2017.