For the second time in school history, the Olentangy Orange baseball team is headed to the state tournament.
Getting there wasn’t easy — it took a handful of big innings and even bigger plays in crunch time — but, after back-to-back regional wins over Olentangy Liberty and Grove City, the Pioneers are still dancing.
After hanging three crooked numbers in Thursday’s thrilling 7-6 win over the Patriots, Orange hung another big one on the Greyhounds, plating five runs in the fourth inning to turn an early 1-0 edge into a 6-1 win in Friday’s regional championship game at Grove City High School.
Until then, it was anyone’s game. After the outburst, though, it was Orange’s to win.
Tyler Fuller led off the big inning with a double to center before Evan Eichel chased him home with a single. Back-to-back singles by Keegan Knupp and Casey Covert doubled the Pioneers’ edge, making it a 4-0 game.
Two batters later, Charlie Scholvin came through with a clutch two-run single to add a little insurance.
Cole Cahill and Diego Astacio led Orange at the dish, finishing with two hits apiece. Scholvin and Covert were also solid, knocking in two runs each.
Pioneer starter Jacob Tabor, who came on it relief to get a bases-loaded strikeout to put the finishing touches on the win over Liberty, took care of the rest. He kept Grove City off-balance from the start, allowing just a run on five hits while striking out six in 6.1 innings of work.
Gavin Lawler led the Greyhounds with a pair of hits while Keegan Holmstrom suffered the setback on the mound, allowing six runs on nine hits while striking out two over six innings.
Next up, the Pioneers will take on Whitehouse Anthony Wayne — a 3-2 winner over Medina in its regional final — in a state semifinal Thursday at Canal Park in Akron. First pitch is slated for 1 p.m.
The winner will play either Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller or Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit in Saturday’s state title game at 10 a.m.