Bears claim 1st regional crown


The Olentangy Berlin baseball team’s season of firsts is alive and well — still — thanks to Friday night’s 2-0 win over Hilliard Bradley in a Division I regional final at Grove City High School.

The Bears, now 27-3, clinched their second straight OCC-Cardinal Division title way back in early May. It was the first time they’ve ever won back-to-back league titles.

They won their first district title with a 1-0 win over Pickerington North a few weeks later and now, thanks to the win over the Jaguars, have their first regional title to show off.

Berlin hasn’t been blowing teams out, but don’t be deceived … it has been dominant. Just look at the regional, where it outscored its opponents by a combined 7-0 margin allowing a grand total of, wait for it: three hits.

Kyle Haag got the call in the regional championship, allowing just one hit while striking out 10 and walking one en route to the complete-game shutout.

The offense, meanwhile, scored all the runs it would need — and the only two of the game — in the second inning after Haag struck out the side in the top half.

Ascher Dent was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and, after Haag set the table with a single, Maddox Pulliam, who had two home runs in the regional semifinal win over the defending state runner-up Pioneers a day earlier, stayed hot with an RBI double to left. Dent scored on the play and Haag scored on a groundout by Braylen Jehnzen to make it a 2-0 game.

Hits were few and far between the rest of the way, but the damage was done.

Next, Berlin turns its attention to Twinsburg, which earned its place in the state final four with a 6-3 win over Hoover.

The Tigers (23-6), who used a three-run first inning to take control, got two hits apiece from AJ Taneja and Josh Stalnaker. Taneja added a game-best two RBI while Lucas Tinter earned the win on the mound, allowing two runs, one earned, on four hits while striking out four in six innings of action.

State-ranked Berlin, fourth in the final coaches’ poll, will play Twinsburg in the first of two state semifinals Friday at Akron’s Canal Park. First pitch is set for 4 p.m.

Seventh-ranked Mason and Perrysburg will play at 7 p.m. before the winners return Sunday to square off for a state championship. First pitch for the title game is set for 1 p.m.

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