It took a couple extra innings, but the wait was worth the reward as Jake Kinkead’s two-out RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning lifted the Olentangy Berlin baseball team to a thrilling 4-3 Division I district semifinal win over visiting Pickerington North Tuesday night in Delaware.
Parker McDaniels was hit by a pitch to start the inning before Daniel Gladden moved him to second base with a sacrifice bunt to the pitcher.
Harrison Brewster lined out after Mac Moore worked a walk, putting runners at first and second with two down and setting up what proved to be the the final battle of the game between Kinkead — Berlin’s leadoff hitter — and Pickerington North reliever Ethan Yurko.
Kinkead watched the first pitch sail across the plate for strike one, but he jumped on the second, lining a shot up the middle to score the game-winning run.
The 11th-seeded Bears (16-12) started fast, plating a pair of runs on a Ryan Horstman triple in the first inning.
The 17th-seeded Panthers (15-12) answered in the top of the second, getting back to even when Harry Kreinbrink doubled home Troy Cruse and Baylee Becker singled to score Kreinbrink.
The pitchers took over after that, until Gladden singled in the fourth to score Mitch Herbst with the go-ahead run for Berlin. North had another answer, this time evening things up when Becker scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Reid Fleming in the fifth — which is where things stayed until Kinkead’s heroics.
The Bears managed just six hits, two courtesy of Kinkead, who finished 2-for-5 with the biggest RBI of the game. Herbst had a hit and scored twice, Horstman had a hit and an RBI and Gladden finished 1-for-3 with an RBI.
Herbst, meanwhile, was really, really good on the mound despite not factoring into the decision. He allowed three runs on five hits while striking out 13 and walking just two in eight innings of action. Gladden got the win, tossing a 1-2-3 ninth.
Fleming, Kreinbrink and Becker each had a hit and RBI for the Panthers. Brett Madison started the game on the mound, allowing three runs on five hits while striking out six and walking two in 7.2 innings of action. Yurko was pegged with the loss after coming on for Madison with two down in the eighth.
Next up, Berlin will take on top-seeded Olentangy Orange in Thursday’s district championship. First pitch is slated for 5 p.m. in Lewis Center.
Olentangy Orange 6, St. Charles 0
Cole Cahill tossed a three-hit shutout and the offense gave him more than enough support as the top-seeded Pioneers cruised past the 33rd-seeded Cardinals in Tuesday’s Division I district semifinal in Lewis Center.
Orange (25-3) broke the scoring seal when Josh Laisure singled home Matt Wolfe in the bottom of the first. The next batter, Cahill, then helped his cause with a single to score Laisure and make it a 2-0 game.
The Pioneers doubled their advantage when two more scored on an error in the second before smoothing out the scoring summary with single tallies in the third and fifth.
Laisure led the way at the dish, finishing 2-for-3 with two runs and two RBI. Cahill also knocked in a pair of runs while Austin Knupp finished 2-for-3.
Michael Benjamin, Carter Bryant and Scott Beckman had the Cardinals’ (15-14) hits while Ethan Seewald suffered the setback on the mound, allowing six runs on 10 hits with a walk and a strikeout over six innings.
Top-seeded Olentangy Liberty dropped visiting Westerville North in straight sets, winning Tuesday’s Division I East Region semifinal 25-13, 25-16, 25-21 to advance to Friday’s final.
Andrew Pugh led the Patriots with eight kills and a couple aces in the win. Other standouts included Carter Smith, who collected seven kills and two blocks; Connor Severson, who chipped in 15 assists, 10 digs and two aces; and Noah Koknat, who had six kills to go with a team-best 13 digs.
Also: Olentangy def. DeSales 21-25, 25-19, 25-15, 25-16 (Division II East Region semifinal).
Dublin Coffman 11, Olentangy Liberty 10 (Division I regional semifinal).