It’s not how you start, but how you finish … and Tyler Brown and the Olentangy Orange baseball team did just that in Monday’s Division I baseball district semifinal at Ohio Dominican University.
Eleventh-seeded Orange trailed fifth-seeded Canal Winchester 3-0 after the first inning as Brown, who struck out 15, walked two and allowed just four hits en route to the complete-game win, looked anything but destined to go the distance.
Dalton Cencebaugh singled to start the bottom of the inning, Nick Tiell sacrificed and reached on an error and Austin Trace singled to right to make it a 1-0 game and put runners at first and second just three batters in.
Luke Williamson, the next batter, sacrificed and reached on an error, with Tiell scoring to make it 2-0, and Kavian McMillan singled to left to score Trace before a single out was recorded in the frame.
Orange got a run back in the third as Zach Stiteler singled home Matt Poole to make it 3-1, then evened things up as the Indians gift-wrapped a pair of runs in the fourth.
Poole started the inning innocently enough, grounding to second, but the throw to first sailed over the head of the first baseman and allowed Poole to cruise safely into second.
After Brown flew out to left, Stiteler popped up to second, but the ball wasn’t caught, putting runners on first and second with one out. Logan Moss then singled to load the bases and the game-tying runs scored when Garrett O’Reilly grounded to second and the flip for the force at second base went wide.
After Brown struck out the side in the bottom of the fifth, keeping the momentum squarely in the Orange dugout, Stiteler connected on what proved to be the game-winning hit in the top of the sixth — a one-out, bases-loaded single up the middle.
The Indians got the tying runs on in the sixth, and got them into scoring position on a balk by Brown, but the Pioneer ace coaxed an inning-ending grounder to first to end the threat.
Brown was next to automatic after the shaky start, allowing just four baserunners after giving up the three early runs … and one reached via a dropped third strike.
Stiteler led Orange with two hits and three RBI in the win. Poole scored a team-best two runs, O’Reilly drove in a pair and Jason Schutte finished with two hits of his own.
Cencebaugh, Trace, McMillan and Ryan Glauner had the Indians’ hits while Glauner suffered the setback on the mound. He allowed five runs (two earned) on seven hits while striking out 11 and walking two in five innings of work.
With the win, Orange advances to Wednesday’s district final against fourth-seeded Thomas Worthington. First pitch is slated for 5 p.m. at a site to be determined.
Teays Valley scored a combined six runs in the first two innings and parlayed the fast start into a 13-1, five-inning win over Delaware Hayes in a Division I district semifinal Monday in Pickerington.
The third-seeded Vikings kept the pressure on, too, scoring three times in the fourth and four times in the fifth to end the 18th-seeded Pacers’ season.
Amaia Daniel and Audrey Hannahs finished with Hayes’ only two hits.
Haley Osborne took the loss in the circle, allowing 13 runs (12 earned) on 16 hits while striking out one and walking one in 4.1 innings of action.
Hannah Brown and Bella Lindell had two goals apiece to lead Orange to a 14-7 win over visiting Notre Dame Academy in the first round of the Division I, Region 1 girls lacrosse tournament Monday in Lewis Center.
Corynn Schneider anchored the defense with nine saves in the second half alone.
Next up, the Pioneers will play the winner of today’s first-round showdown between Hayes and host Liberty.
Big Walnut 3, Dublin Scioto 2
Follow Ben Stroup on Twitter @delgazette_ben.