Olentangy Liberty baseball coach Ty Brenning sang his familiar refrain after the Patriots’ 8-1 win over Whitehouse Anthony Wayne Saturday afternoon at Huntington Park in Columbus.
“Play our brand and you don’t have to do anything special,” he told his team before the game. “You don’t have to do it alone. We’ve talked about that a lot. Our depth is our strength.”
That depth showed through and provided what is Liberty’s greatest hit to date: a first ever Division I state championship.
“Our (hitting) philosophy is get the next guy up,” junior Justin Nelson said. “One through nine on any given day – we can hit the ball hard. I think it helps that we know the guy behind us can do his job as well as we can.”
The Patriots got it done it in a similar fashion as they did in Friday’s semifinal — using a big first inning to take control.
Corey Mayer did all the damage this time with a three-run double to stake Liberty to a 3-0 lead.
“I was just trying to hit a flyball and score the guy from third and take the lead,” Mayer said. “I ended up getting a fastball and hit it pretty well.”
Nelson drove in two more on a triple in the third and added a RBI single in the fifth to cap the scoring.
“He’s a super-versatile player,” Brenning said. “In many ways he’s our Energizer Bunny … other guys feed off of him. He thrives in competition.”
Mitchell Okuley added a RBI single and stole home on a double steal to push Liberty’s lead to 7-1 through three.
Carson Comer reached base all three times on a hit and two walks and scored a run and Connor Osmond added a pair of hits and scored twice to supplement the Patriots (30-4) on offense.
Like his predecessor Mitch Milheim the day before, pitcher Jack Metzger struggled over the first couple of innings, but recovered.
He got a pair of quick outs before walking the next two batters in a scoreless first.
Wayne’s Andrew Murphy led off the second with a single, moved to second on an errant pickoff attempt and advanced to third on a Camron Kottenbrock groundout before Brock Nartker drove him in with a groundout to cut the deficit to 3-1.
“The first inning is always the rough one for me,” Metzger said. “If I can get through that (inning) then I start feeling a little bit better. The first inning was a little bit rough – I walked two people. After that I was able to throw more strikes and I got a better feel for my pitches.”
From there – Metzger barely gave an inch. He retired 17 of the final 20 batters.
“The last time (I pitched) the changeup was my go-to pitch and I hardly threw my curveball,” he said. “Today was the opposite … changeup wasn’t feeling good. I kept spiking it in the dirt. The curveball was feeling good … I was able to get that across for a strike and that’s what I ended up throwing most of the time.”
Murphy took the loss for the Generals (26-5). He allowed eight runs (all earned) on 11 hits and four walks. Steve Haugh tossed two flawless innings in relief and had a hit and a walk to lead the offense.
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