Baseball: Olentangy Orange, New Albany to meet for Division I regional title

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Olentangy Orange 8, Westerville South 7

The second-ranked Orange baseball team had its bats come alive for 12 hits as it squeaked past South 8-7 in a Division I regional semifinal June 4 at Dublin Coffman.

Orange improved to 27-3 and will play New Albany in the regional final June 5 at Coffman.

Matt Wolfe went 4-for-4 with a double, three runs and two RBI to lead the Pioneers. He drove in the go-ahead run with a single in the bottom of the sixth inning.

“That’s just baseball,” Wolfe said. “I told (my teammates) before the game that we would get punched in the face and we needed to respond. It comes down to who’s tougher and who wants it more.”

Olentangy Orange's Jacob Tabor, left, and Cole Cahill celebrate on the mound following an 8-7 win over Westerville South in a Division I regional semifinal June 4 at Dublin Coffman.

The Pioneers were ahead 3-0 entering the fourth when South scored one run and then added three more — none earned — in the fifth to take a 4-3 lead. Jack Bates drew a bases loaded walk to drive in Logan Hunn with the first run and Thatcher Dietz had an RBI double to highlight the fifth.

The Wildcats (26-4) chased Orange ace Josh Laisure in the fifth, with the senior going just 4 2/3 innings and surrendering five hits. Jacob Tabor pitched the final 2 1/3 innings to get the win. Pioneers pitchers combined to strike out six, walk nine and hit one batter.

Laisure had a great day at the plate, going 3-for-3 with a double and one RBI. 

“They had the same record as us and won their league and have some great players,” Orange coach Tom Marker said. “We told our guys from day one that we were going to get everyone’s best shot.

“The heat got to Josh and kind of wore him down a little bit, and we needed Tabor to man up as a sophomore and he did that. That’s pretty impressive.”

Orange regained the lead with a three-run fifth to go up 6-4, a rally highlighted by RBI singles from Logan Shearer and Austin Knupp. However, South tied it at 6 on a sacrifice fly by Santo Scillia and a bases-loaded walk to Nick McConnell.

Wolfe and Sam Sells had RBI singles in the bottom of the sixth for an 8-6 advantage. Kaden Saunders doubled home Brandon Kim in the seventh, but South fell one run short.

“We just ran out of time,” said South coach Tim Bates, whose team had seven hits. “It was back and forth. We got meaner and faster when we were down by three. We had timely hits to score runs, and we got those. 

“That’s a good team. You need three base hits to score a run against them. They don’t make a lot of mistakes.”

—Scott Hennen

New Albany's Mattox Mead, left, and Brady Conley celebrate after a 4-2 win over Lancaster in a Division I regional semifinal June 4 at Dublin Coffman.

New Albany 4, Lancaster 2

Oliver Cush had three hits and Brady Conley struck out the side in the seventh as the Eagles held off the Golden Gales in the first regional semifinal June 4 at Coffman.

Cush tripled to give New Albany the lead in the first inning, and Lancaster took the lead in the third on Tony Falvo’s two-run double.

In the fourth, Brock Tibbitts drew a leadoff walk and Cush had an infield single to set up the would-be winning relay. Ian Hoff’s sacrifice bunt advanced Cush and Tibbitts to second and third, respectively, and A.C. Clouse singled in Tibbitts to tie the game.

Cush scored the winning run on a wild pitch, and the Eagles got an insurance run in the sixth on two walks, a hit by pitch and a fielder’s choice.

“We did what we had to do,” said New Albany coach Dave Starling, whose team improved to 26-5. “It was a great team win. You have to do what you have to do to move on. The guys responded very well.”

Hoff scattered three runs, walked two and struck out three in 5 1/3 innings to earn the win.

Conley relieved Tom Bohman, who allowed consecutive singles to start the seventh.

“It was very stressful but I have a good team behind me to support me and back me up,” said Conley, who suffered a broken wrist on the first day of preseason practice but returned in early May. “I just took it one pitch at a time and threw my normal game. It was fun.”

Lancaster, which like New Albany was coming off its third consecutive district championship, finished 25-6.

—Dave Purpura

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