Cole Cahill collected three hits, scored a run and knocked in another and Josh Laisure was sharp on the mound as the top-seeded Olentangy Orange baseball team dropped 11th-seeded Olentangy Berlin 5-1 in Thursday’s Division I district final in Lewis Center.
The Pioneers (26-3) scored all the runs they would need during their first trip to the dish, plating four runs in bottom of the first, taking advantage of a handful of early miscues by the Bears along the way.
Matt Wolfe was hit by a pitch — the first of three players to be hit in the inning — to get things started. Laisure then reached on an error before Cole Cahill stroked a single through the right side of the infield to score Wolfe with the game’s first run.
After a strikeout made it two on with two down, Laisure scored on an errant pickoff attempt to balloon the edge to 2-0 before Austin Knupp singled to score Cahill.
Connor Till was then hit by a pitch before Charlie Scholvin doubled home Knupp to make it a 4-0 game. Another hit batsman loaded the bases, but Berlin (16-13) starter Daniel Gladden coaxed Orange leadoff hitter Caden Konczak into an inning ending fielder’s choice.
Gladden and the Bear defense really settled into the game after the first, allowing just one more run the rest of the way, but couldn’t claw out of the early hole.
Why? Well, Laisure was a big reason why. The senior Wright State commit limited Berlin to just four hits and eight total baserunners. He struck out seven, including at least one strikeout in five of the seven innings he tossed on the way to the complete-game win.
The defense also played errorless ball behind him.
Berlin finally got to him in the fourth, though. With two down and nobody on, Parker McDaniels worked a walk before advancing to second on a wild pitch. Gladden then singled up the middle to chase home McDaniels with what turned out to be the Bears’ lone run of the game.
The Pioneers got the run back courtesy of a Laisure sacrifice fly in the sixth to smooth out the scoring summary.
Berlin battled until the final out, getting runners at first and second when McDaniels started the seventh with a single and Mac Moore worked a one-out walk, but Laisure got Harrison Brewster to ground into a double play to cement the outcome.
Next up, Orange will take on Westerville South, which slipped past Hilliard Darby 3-2 in its district championship, in Thursday’s regional semifinal. First pitch is slated for 5 p.m. at Dublin Coffman.