LEWIS CENTER – Stifled for the first three innings of play, the Olentangy Orange baseball team broke out for six runs in the fourth inning.
Matthew Wolfe hit a sacrifice fly to give the Pioneers the lead and Robbie Dayhuff blew it open with a three-run triple.
Zane Lattig tossed a complete game to lead Orange to an 8-2 win over Delaware Hayes in the second round of the Division I district tournament Wednesday.
“(Lattig’s) been (consistent) all year for us,” Orange coach Tom Marker said. “We had a few errors today and our defense is better than that. But Zane’s consistent and the guys like playing behind him.”
The Pioneers got a run in the first inning off an error on a double steal. Braden Riley was hit by a pitch and Josh Laisure worked a walk.
Riley took off for third and got caught in a run down before evading the tag. He scored when the throw to second went wide to give the third-seeded Pioneers the early lead.
Zach Price drove in the tying run with a hot shot to third to score Cory Richardson, who hit a one out single for Hayes’ first hit.
Price set down seven in a row and held a no-hitter through three innings on the mound for the 27th-seeded Pacers.
But Tyler Ross singled for Orange’s first hit, Laisure walked and Lattig followed with a single to load the bases to start the fourth.
Wolfe sent a fly ball deep enough to left to score the go-ahead run. Sam Sells was hit by a pitch to load the bases again to set up Dayhuff’s base-clearing triple.
“There were a couple of times earlier in the year where I needed a clutch hit and didn’t get it,” Dayhuff said. “So, doing it in this game really felt good.”
“Dayhuff is the starting quarterback on the football team and he’s just a winner,” Marker said. “We love having him up in those spots. He’s struggled a little bit, but he’s not your prototypical nine-hole hitter.”
He lined a ball to left-center that left fielder Drew Williams tried to catch on a dive, but it landed in front of him and skipped away.
“I’ll never fault a guy for effort,” Hayes coach Ryan Montgomery said. “If you’re giving me effort – you’re going 110 percent – I commend them for how hard they’re working.”
Lattig went the distance on the mound to get the win for the Pioneers (21-7). He allowed two earned runs on seven hits and a walk and struck out seven.
“When you have Zane on the mound – you always know he’s going to throw strikes,” Dayhuff said. “That’s just a great feeling to know that if you lose – it’s because (the other team) is better than you. It’s not because he walked people – it’s because he threw strikes and they hit it.”
Ross had two hits and drove in two, Caden Konczak scored two runs and Laisure worked three walks to lead Orange.
Konczak added an RBI single and another run scored on an error.
Ethan Hazelton finished with two hits to tie Richardson, who hit an RBI single in the sixth inning, for the team lead.
“We battled and we just couldn’t finish,” Montgomery said. “Against a great team like Olentangy Orange – that’s hard. But this is a heck of a learning experience for us. I’m super-proud of this group. I’m looking for great things and for us to continue to build.”
Price allowed seven runs, six earned, on six hits and three walks and struck out three and took the loss for the Pacers (11-14). Grant Singleton allowed a run on a hit and two walks in an inning of work.
Hayes loses five seniors – Price, Caleb Richardson, Ryan Murphy, Kevin Brown and Kyle Latulipe — who Montgomery said laid a foundation for the underclassmen to build on next season.
“I couldn’t be more proud of them as young men and as leaders,” Montgomery said. “They worked hard and I can’t thank those guys enough.”
Orange advances to the district semifinal round where it’ll face 13th-seeded Westerville Central Tuesday at 5 p.m. at a site to be determined. The Warhawks own two wins in three OCC-Buckeye games against the Pioneers this season.
“We’ve got a challenge ahead of us,” Marker said. “Westerville Central beat us twice and they really should have beat us three (times). So, they’re a really good team.
“The expectation is to go out there and hopefully play a really good seven innings and try to get ourselves to a district final.”
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