It wasn’t pretty, but the Olentangy baseball team took advantage of mistakes to defeat Mount Vernon 4-3 in a Division I district semifinal Tuesday at Littick Field at Ohio Wesleyan University.
Third-seeded Olentangy was held to two hits and scored all four of its runs off ninth-seeded Mount Vernon mistakes.
“We had a great performance by Cameron Kaiser, a senior … and this is what’s it’s all about this time of year,” Olentangy coach Ryan Lucas said. “Hopefully we hit it a little bit better in the district championship (game).”
But when all was said and done, Olentangy gave its coach his 100th win in 139 games over five seasons at the helm.
“It’s a tremendous credit to the players we’ve had in our program over the past five years,” Lucas said. “To be able to do that in five years is special – especially with the group of kids we have.”
“I’m blessed to be coached by (Lucas) – he’s such a good coach,” junior Josh Moeller said. “He believes in each and every one of his kids and he loves us so much. It’s just an honor to be coached by him.”
Berto Carselle singled to lead off the second and advanced to second on a balk, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a squeeze bunt by Sam Nourse to give the Braves a 1-0 lead.
“We squeezed to get a run and that’s kind of what we do – especially if we’re not hitting it,” Lucas said. “We try to put the ball on the ground and small-ball it around a little bit.”
Logan Ketron walked and Moeller was hit by a pitch to lead off the third and both scored on a three-base throwing error on a grounder to third. Olentangy (21-4) led 3-0 through three innings.
“Moeller scored from first on that play … it was just great hustle,” Lucas said.
Braydon Chitty worked a leadoff walk in the fourth and moved to second on a balk before advancing to third on a groundout. Mount Vernon’s third balk of the game allowed Chitty to score what turned out to be the game-winning run.
Mount Vernon scored two runs on back-to-back errors by Moeller at short with two outs in the fourth. The first on a slow-roller allowed the Yellow Jackets to load the bases before a throwing error scored two runs to cut it to 3-2.
“Josh makes that play all the time … he just panicked a little bit,” Lucas said. “But, he came back and made three really good plays at shortstop.”
Moeller redeemed himself on three grounders before making a diving catch for the game’s final out with the tying run at third on a sharply hit liner by Tim Zeller.
“I told myself I was going to get another opportunity,” Moeller said. “It just came to me that way and I was able to take advantage of it.”
Cameron Kaiser allowed three runs (one earned) over six-plus innings on four walks and two hits to pick up the win.
“He was locating his fastball, he was pitching ahead and his curveball was working,” Lucas said. “He did a really good job of mixing up pitches and keeping them off-balance.”
Caden Kaiser entered with runners at first and second and got the final three outs to pick up the save.
Jeret Gaumer took the loss for Mount Vernon (21-5). He was charged with four runs (one earned) on one hit and three walks over three-plus innings. Kevin Vincelet worked a scoreless inning and Connor Curry allowed one hit over the final two innings.
Olentangy has a chance for a second straight district title and sixth in school history. It plays seventh-seeded Gahanna Lincoln Thursday at 5 p.m. at Dublin Coffman.
“It’s an honor to be there two times in a row and we’re going to take advantage of it definitely and bring home another championship,” Moeller said.
Also: Big Walnut 10, Westerville North 2.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichdelgazette.