By Michael Rich
Tyler Brown drove in the go-ahead run in the bottom of the sixth inning to back a strong pitching performance from Jason Schutte as Olentangy Orange knocked off Big Walnut 4-2 in OCC-Capital baseball action Wednesday in Lewis Center.
Schutte spread around two runs on five hits and a couple of walks over a complete seven innings of work for the Pioneers. He had one strikeout to lead Orange to its 11th straight win.
“He pitched a great ballgame,” Pioneers coach Phil Callagahan said. “He definitely had his change, curve and fastball going today.”
He faced the minimum through the first four innings despite giving up hits to Nick Moser in the first inning and Connor Gerren in the third.
Schutte got some help from battery-mate Zach Stiteler, who gunned down both runners on attempted steals.
“It felt pretty good (to get him),” Stiteler said. “I knew he was going to come up and steal just because I know him and know how fast he is — so I was prepared for it.”
“He’s not a catcher — he converts and he has been outstanding like that all year,” Callagahan said of Stiteler. “He is a good athlete and he gets rid of the ball. He hasn’t even had a few innings where he hasn’t played hard … he has just had a phenomenal year.”
Meanwhile, BW starter Tommy Fleser set down the first six batters he faced with a pair of strikeouts along the way.
Sam Vanchieri led off the third with a walk and, with runners on second and third and one out, Colin Shepherd broke through with a two-run single to give Orange (18-3, 8-3) the early lead.
“That was a massive hit with two outs and two guys in scoring position,” Callagahan said. “He’s just so much fun to watch because he does just play the game right … he plays so hard. It’s been four years of fun watching him play.”
The Golden Eagles broke through with a run in the fifth inning. Parker Imertreijs and Jakob Evans started the inning off with consecutive singles.
After a wild pitch advanced Imertreijs to third, Nick Green put BW in the scoring column with a sacrifice fly to center.
An inning later, Moser worked a one-out walk and moved to second on a balk. Andrew Klamfoth scored him with a base hit to tie it 2-2.
Shepherd opened the Orange sixth with a walk and Schutte followed with a base hit to center to set up Brown’s go-ahead hit — a groundball single to center.
“Tyler is definitely at his best when runners are on base,” Callaghan said.
Fleser went the distance for BW in defeat. He allowed just three hits and a pair of walks and struck out five — giving up four runs, but only two earned.
“That’s as good as I’ve seen Tommy throw,” Eagles assistant coach Carl Weiss said. “He had really good control and he was pounding the mitt … he (had) the bulldog mentality.”
Shepherd for Orange and Moser for BW were the only two to reach base twice in a game with only seven hits by seven different batters. Each had a hit and worked a walk.
“We were hitting the ball hard,” Weiss said. “We’ve out-hit the opponent in six out of the eight games we’ve lost. Their pitcher is very good and they made a lot of great defensive plays.”
Big Walnut (13-8, 5-6) had won three straight and seven of its last eight coming in.
The two teams meet again Friday to wrap up the season series in Sunbury. First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichdelgazette.