Sophomore Caden Kaiser led with three hits and scored the go-ahead run as the Olentangy baseball team came from behind to knock off Westerville Central 5-3 in OCC-Buckeye action Monday in Lewis Center.
The Warhawks came out swinging against Olentangy starting pitcher Berto Carselle, collecting five first-inning knocks that plated three runs.
Carselle got ahead 0-2 on each of the first two batters. Leadoff hitter Evan Ingram lined the fourth pitch to left to set up Drew Fischer’s two-run jack – also on the fourth pitch – to give Central a 2-0 lead.
“He’s doesn’t overpower anybody with his stuff, so for him, he has to get it down on the knees,” Olentangy coach Ryan Lucas said of Carselle. “Both games he’s pitched (tonight and against Westerville North Apr. 5), in the first inning, he’s been up in the zone.
“For him to be successful, he can’t do that. He has to change eye level and he has to do a great job of changing speeds and doing different things like that.”
It didn’t stop there as singles by Jalen Arms and Daniel Cellars set up a RBI knock by Matt Keifer to push the Warhawks’ lead to 3-0.
“I was locating my fastball pretty well,” Carselle said. “When I came into the dugout after the first inning, I only made one bad pitch and that was the home run. The other hits they had were curveballs low, which were a part of the gameplan.”
Carselle gave up a Camron Hubble double and an Ingram walk in the second. He got the break he needed, though, when Fischer sacrificed for the first out. Carselle got a strikeout and a flyout to get out of trouble.
From there, he didn’t allow a baserunner past first, allowing only a single to Hubble in the fourth and one to Arms in the fifth, while tossing 1-2-3 innings in the third and sixth to pick up the win.
“I’ve been struggling with pitching coming into this game,” Carselle said. “I knew if I just kept hitting the low parts of the plate … I was throwing great, it felt like.”
“Once we got through the first inning he was the typical Berto,” Lucas said. “He’s a guy who I trust 100 percent.”
Meanwhile, Olentangy (7-2, 3-1) struggled to find the big hit in the first three innings. Olentangy had a runner in scoring position in the second and bases loaded with one out in the third, but neither yielded any runs.
“I wasn’t worried because I know we’re swinging it well,” Lucas said. “The only thing I worry about is that sometimes we aren’t hitting it well with guys in scoring position.”
Tyler Karbler finally got the offense going in the fourth with a pinch-hit single that capped a two-out rally that started with a Jake McIntyre single and a Sam Nourse walk.
Caden Kaiser capped the fourth-inning rally with a single to left to cut it to 3-2.
“All of our guys compete,” Caden Kaiser said. “We knew if we chipped away, we’d be right back in it toward the end. We had some timely hits.”
Cameron Kaiser opened the fifth with a walk, moved to second on a sac bunt by Logan Ketron and scored on Josh Moeller’s double to the right-center gap to tie it.
Olentangy loaded the bases with one out in the inning, but the rally was snuffed out by Central reliever Jake Laffey, who threw home to catch Olentangy on a squeeze play.
The batter, Nourse, worked a walk in the at-bat that would have given Olentangy the lead.
“I probably over-coached,” Lucas said. “That was on me.”
It didn’t matter. Caden Kaiser hustled a single into a double. He moved to third on Cole Robinson’s sac bunt that went for a hit and scored the go-ahead run on a sac fly to center by Cameron Kaiser.
Carselle added an insurance run with a bases-loaded walk to cap the scoring.
Cameron Kaiser gave up a two-out walk in the seventh, but closed the door for the save.
Arms and Hubble had two hits apiece to lead the Warhawks (3-6, 0-3). Ingram started and allowed three runs (all earned) over four innings before giving way to Laffey, who tossed 1.1 innings and allowed two runs (both earned) to take the loss.
Olentangy faces Westerville North Tuesday at 5 p.m. to make up last Friday’s game, which was postponed due to field conditions.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichdelgazette.