In baseball, it doesn’t get much better than Opening Day … especially this year.
After having to sit last season out due to the pandemic, Delaware Hayes and host Olentangy came back in a big way, authoring a thriller in their return to action Saturday afternoon in Lewis Center.
The Pacers fired out of the gate with six runs over the course of the first two innings, but the Braves rallied for six of their own over the final two, including five in the bottom of the seventh to nab a 7-6 walk-off win.
After Carter Williamson struck out the side in the top of the seventh, Olentangy came to the pate down 6-2 with just three outs to play with.
Turns out, the Braves only needed one.
After a strikeout to start the inning, six straight players reached base to complete the comeback. Brandon Hire walked to get the rally started and, after Tommy Chilicki singled, Kaden Doup walked to load the bases. Jace Middleton worked a walk to force in a run after that, Vitaly Diblasi doubled home Chilicki and Doup and Eric Efland doubled to plate Middleton and Diblasi with the game-winning run.
As good as Olentangy was late, Hayes was early. The Pacers loaded the bases with just one out in the top of the first before back-to-back singles by Braden Krauss and Bryan Skedell made it 4-0.
Hayes got two more in the second thanks to a sacrifice fly off the bat of Austin Dowell and a wild pitch that plated Drew Williams.
Chilicki led the Olentangy offense with three hits while Efland had a team-best three RBI.
Dowell knocked in three for Hayes while Bryden Decaminada scored twice.
All six of the Pacer runs were charged to Jace Middleton, who lasted just two innings. Williams was stellar in relief, though, allowing next to nothing the rest of the way to pick up the win. He allowed just one hit, walked one and struck out nine over his five innings of work.
Matt McGeath was steady in his start for Hayes, allowing two runs on five hits while striking out three and walking two in five innings.
Olentangy Berlin 10, Bexley 0, 5 inn.
Ryan Horstman had three runs, three hits and three RBI to spark the offense while Mitch Herbst tossed a gem on the mound to lead the Bears to a season-opening win over the visiting Lions Saturday afternoon in Delaware.
Jacob Moeller and Jake Kinkead backed Horstman with two hits apiece while Jake Brewster knocked in a pair.
Herbst, meanwhile, allowed just two hits while striking out eight and walking one in five shutout innings.
Olentangy Liberty 18, Stow 0, 5 inn.
Nolan Fogg and Mason Onate had three hits apiece and Fogg and Connor Bourn drove in three each to lead the Patriots to a season-opening win over visiting Stow Saturday afternoon in Powell.
Anderson Gomez was steady on the mound, allowing just one hit while striking out three and walking two in four scoreless innings.
Olentangy Liberty 11, Tallmadge 1, 6 inn.
Onate, David Dielman, Bourn and Michael Tuttle had two RBI each as the Patriots completed a doubleheader sweep with a win over visiting Tallmadge.
Joe Tootle got the win in the circle, allowing a run on five hits while striking out six.
Johnstown-Monroe 10, Big Walnut 6
The Johnnies used a six-run fourth to break things open on the way to a non-league win over the visiting Golden Eagles Saturday afternoon.
Brady Hershberger led Big Walnut with two doubles in the setback.
Also: Olentangy Orange 11, Central Crossing 2; Olentangy Orange 7, Grove City 2; Buckeye Valley 8, Westfall 1.
Thomas Worthington 10, Delaware Hayes 0, 5 inn.; Moeller 7, Olentangy Berlin 4; Buckeye Valley 6, London 0; Olentangy 11, Worthington Kilbourne 1; Olentangy Liberty 4, Grove City 3, 9 inn.
Buckeye Valley battled all day long, but dropped a pair of extra-inning games, both by 4-3 margins, to open its season Saturday against host Grove City.
In the opener, Chloe Clark scored on an error in the bottom of the 12th inning to send the Greyhounds to the win.
Lilly Irvine homered in the 11th to give the Barons a 3-2 lead, but Grove City answered win a run of its own in the bottom half.
BV’s Anika Craft also homered in the setback.
Gacie Smith scored the game-winner on a fly ball by Kendall Weber in the bottom of the eighth to end the nightcap.
Irvine again led BV, finishing 3-for-4 from the plate with a home run and two RBI.
Bishop Watterson 14, Delaware Hayes 11.
Lindsay Wolverton poured in four goals and four assists and Madison Bricker and Presley Call added three goals and an assist apiece to lead Delaware Hayes to a dominant 19-0 win over visiting Kettering Fairmont Saturday afternoon in Delaware.
Lily Tope and Alana Kay also scored multiple goals (two each) while Anna Fenton finished with six saves in goal. Fairmont’s Megan Sherick had four saves in the setback.
Olentangy Orange 8, Lakota East 7; Dublin Coffman 16, Olentangy 6; Springboro 15, Olentangy Liberty 6; Bishop Watterson 12, Delaware Hayes 4.