The Olentangy Liberty baseball team jumped out quick and held off a late rally to snap a two-game losing streak with a 7-3 victory over rival Olentangy Orange Tuesday in Powell.
Senior pitcher Hunter Voorhees held the Pioneers to just one hit over his first four innings to pick up the victory. He allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits and two walks, while striking out four over 5.1 innings.
Junior Carson Comer went a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate with 2 RBI and a run and Mitchell Okuley had three hits, two runs scored and a RBI to lead the Patriots’ offense.
“I just felt like I was seeing the ball well tonight and was able to get the barrel on it,” Comer said. “It helps that there were runners on base for me to get the RBI.”
Okuley and Comer got the offense started in the first with a double and single, respectively. Mitch Milheim drove Okuley in with a single and Comer scored on the back end of a double steal to give Liberty (4-3, 1-1) a 2-0 lead at the end of the frame.
Corbin Parrish and Okuley opened the fifth with back-to-back hits before Comer grounded one through the infield to score Parrish. Milheim drove in a second run later in the frame on a groundout to push the lead to four.
Voorhees, meanwhile, set down Orange in order in the first and third innings. He gave up a leadoff single to Zach Stiteler to open the second and a one-out walk to Garrett O’Reilly before getting a strikeout and a groundout to escape damage.
“My fastball just felt really good from pregame,” Voorhees said. “I came out in the first inning and struck the first guy out. After that, I felt pretty confident.”
The Pioneers finally got to Voorhees in the sixth when O’Reilly lined a single to center to score Stiteler and Tyler Ross followed with a RBI double to pull Orange within two.
Liberty had given up last-inning rallies to Hilliard Darby and Orange in losses Sunday and Monday, so it was looking like déjà vu all over again.
Patriots coach Ty Brenning said his team is giving away too many outs on the base paths and is having to get too many extra outs defensively lately.
“(If we could) not give away as many outs offensively and make sure we take advantage of all of those outs defensively, and keep people off the bases, then I think we can be a really good team down the stretch,” he said.
Jack Metzger entered and, after hitting a batter, struck out the final two of the inning to preserve the lead.
Okuley and Comer each had RBI singles and a third run scored on an error as Liberty added to its lead.
Orange loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh on an error and an O’Reilly walk, but Metzger coaxed a groundout to earn the save. O’Reilly had a hit and two walks to lead the Orange offense.
Jason Schutte allowed three runs (all earned) on eight hits and a walk and struck out eight over five innings to take the loss for the Pioneers (3-3, 1-1). Adam Brady relieved him in the sixth.
“We’re six games in and playing bad baseball – too many errors, too many lackadaisical plays, too many runs being given away,” Pioneers coach Phil Callaghan said. “Last night, it was the same sort of thing, but we came back and got the win. You have to play this game every single pitch.”
Both teams continue OCC-Buckeye action today at 5 p.m. Orange hosts Westerville Central and Liberty visits Westerville South.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichdelgazette.