Talented Pioneers look to rebound this spring


For some programs, finishing seven games above .500 would be a heckuva year.

For the Olentangy Orange baseball team — a program that prides itself on winning league and district championships — last year’s 17-10 campaign just didn’t cut it.

“It was a terrible season by our standard,” Pioneer coach Tom Marker said of the 2022 team, which finished second in the OCC behind Liberty and was bounced out of the postseason in a district semifinal. “We just weren’t good on the field or in the handling of situations. So, our focus this year has been on developing players and being more transparent within the walls of our program.”

One thing Marker stressed is, on paper, this year’s group could be as good as any he’s had since coming to Orange. It’s led by 17 seniors, including a group of four elite pitchers: Cole Cahill, Jacob Tabor, Diego Astacio and Josiah Ross.

Cahill, a Toledo commit, has been lights out over the course of the last two seasons. He’s compiled a 14-2 record with the only losses to McKinney Boyd last season and New Albany in a regional final as a sophomore. Both were 3-1 setbacks.

He’s tossed 13 complete games and four shutouts with 111 strikeouts in 104 innings … all with an ERA of 1.80.

Tabor, another Toledo commit, has brought close to 90 mile-per-hour heat primarily out of the bullpen the last two seasons. The lefty has collected 81 strikeouts in 69 innings, and will be looking for more this time around.

Astacio, a lefty who will play at Olivet Nazarene at the next level, was 5-1 last year with his only loss to Orchard Lake Saint Mary out of Michigan. He had just eight walks in 41 innings with an ERA of 1.62.

Akron commit Josiah Ross, who throws hardest of all (90-91 in his latest bullpen session), could have a breakout season as well, Marker said.

“We return 156 of our 175 innings from a year ago,” he said. “Those are our top four arms, but the guys behind them are all veterans as well. Colin Shoemaker is an 84-85 right-hander with a sharp breaking ball, and will more than likely be our first guy out of the pen.”

Shutting teams down should most certainly be a strength, but the Pioneers have a loaded lineup as well. Cahill, Astacio and Ross will all be a part of it, as will standouts like Charlie Scholvin, Tyler Fuller, Wyatt Lidke, Casey Covert, James Wimsatt and Gabe Miller.

“You will not find a better leader than Charlie Scholvin,” Marker said. “He hit in the No. 8 hole on the 2021 regional final team, and should be in our No. 2 hole this year. He’ll also slide over to shortstop from second base … he can defend as well as any infielder we’ve ever had.

“Tyler might be our best pure bat, Wyatt is a sophomore centerfielder who can absolutely fly, Casey is an elite receiver behind the plate, James is a sophomore second baseman who is going to be a college commit by the end of his junior season and Gabe has been the best offensive performer this offseason in terms of consistency.”

Scholvin is a Toldeo commit, Fuller is a Bluffton commit and Miller is headed to Notre Dame College when he wraps up his prep career.

Others Marker said could make meaningful contributions include Jacob Lattig (outfield), Evan Eichel (right field), Morgan Twyford (catcher), Luke Shearer (outfield), and Ian Dando (outfield).

The Pioneers have the pieces in place. Now, if they are to rebound this spring, all that’s left is to make it happen on the field … against a loaded schedule.

“We bring in Orchard Lake (national high school champ and Michigan state champ) again this year,” Marker said. “That, coupled with a challenging spring trip and an always tough OCC division will make for every day being a fourth-and-goal in our minds. We need to play consistent baseball and have consistent appreciation for one another.

“If we compete together — as a group and as a program — then we can be very successful.”

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