The Buckeye Valley baseball team made things interesting, loading the bases with one out in bottom of the seventh, but couldn’t complete the comeback as visiting Licking Valley hung on for an 8-4 Division II sectional final win Thursday night in Delaware.
A couple rough innings is all it took to bury the third-seeded Barons (21-5), who fell into a 7-1 hole after the 12th-seeded Panthers (14-11) plated four runs in the third and three more in the fourth.
Hayden Rodgers started the third with a single up the middle. BV shortstop Gianni Passarelli was able to knock it down, but a tough hop prevented him from making a throw to first. Chandler Zimmerman than worked a walk off Buckeye Valley starter Fletcher Holquist before Bodee Creech and Aidan Heinze reached on back-to-back Baron errors, the second of which allowed a pair of runs to score.
After a strikeout, Brandon Bishop singled to chase home Creech and Heinze and balloon the Panther edge to 4-0.
BV got a run back in the bottom of the inning, with Zach Church, who worked a walk to start things, scoring on a Licking Valley error.
The momentum didn’t stay in the Baron dugout long, though, as the Panthers took firm control of things with their three-run fourth. After loading the bases with one out, a run scored on a fielder’s choice, Gavin Bragg laid down a successful suicide squeeze to plate another and Creech scampered home on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Bishop to make it a 7-1 game.
After both teams scored in the fifth and traded zeros in the sixth, the Barons found themselves down 8-2 with three outs to work with. They made plenty of noise, loading the bases with one out, but couldn’t get any closer than the final four-run spread.
Mason Kurtz was hit by a pitch to start the inning before Passarelli and Enzo DiRocco sandwiched singles around a fielder’s choice, the second of which plated Kurtz. Cole Raile then walked to load the bases, but Heinze, who came on in relief of Bishop at the start of the inning, was able to minimize the damage thanks to a fly out and strike out to cement the win.
Bishop and Zimmerman each finished 3-for-3 to lead the Panthers at the plate. Bishop had a game-best three RBI to go with his hits while Zimmerman scored twice. Heinze also finished with three RBI for Licking Valley.
Kurtz, Passarelli and Raile each had two hits to lead BV while Passarelli, Owen Osborne and DiRocco finished with one RBI apiece.
Bishop earned the win on the mound, allowing two runs on six hits while striking out five and walking four in six innings of action. Holquist, meanwhile, suffered the setback, allowing four runs, none earned, while striking out five and walking three in 2.1 innings of work.
With the win, Licking Valley advances to Tuesday’s district semifinal against sixth-seeded Lakewood. First pitch is slated for 5 p.m. in Hebron.
Olentangy Orange 15, Chillicothe 0, 5 inn.
The Pioneers played like the top team in the Division I Central District tournament, scoring five runs in the second inning and 10 more in the third to roll to a second-round win over the visiting and 35th-seeded Cavs Thursday night in Lewis Center.
Austin Knupp and Sam Sells led Orange at the dish. Sells was 2-for-2 with two runs and four RBI while Knupp finished 2-for-3 with two runs and two RBI. Matt Wolfe also had two RBI while Josh Laisure earned the win on the mound, allowing two hits while striking out five in three scoreless innings.
Next up, Orange will host 33rd-seeded St. Charles Tuesday at 5 p.m. with a trip to the district championship on the line.