By Michael Rich
It was nothing but a brother thing for the Olentangy baseball team in a 5-4 win at home against district-rival Olentangy Orange Thursday night in Lewis Center.
Cameron Kaiser came out of a slump with two hits and a walk in three plate appearances, which included a lead-off single in the sixth inning.
“Yesterday, we played Franklin Heights and I got a base hit and it sort of gave me my confidence back,” Cameron Kaiser said. “I’ve been working with my swing a lot and pulled it all together.”
“Cameron has been struggling at the plate,” Olentangy coach Ryan Lucas said. “He’s put in a lot of work over the past couple of days, concentrating on the fundamentals … getting his confidence up.”
He moved over to second on a sacrifice before his brother Caden, a freshman, drove him home for the winning run with a double to center.
“Caden’s a freshman, who is just a competitor,” Lucas said. “When there’s a big situation, he has a knack for making plays. I’m glad he’s on our team.”
Olentangy (7-5, 5-0 OCC), now on a five-game winning streak, has won three of them in its last at bat, each in comeback fashion, including Wednesday.
“It’s fun when you have a bunch of guys that are committed to the program and are committed to what we’re doing,” Lucas said. “It’s just a bunch of guys that believe in each other and work hard for one another.”
“We’re first in the OCC right now … it’s just good baseball right now,” Cameron Kaiser said.
The Pioneers used speed to score runs in each of the first three innings. Nik Strine led the game off with a walk and stole second.
Colin Shepherd followed with a bunt single to move Strine to third and he stole second to set up back-to-back RBI groundouts by Jason Schutte and Tyler Brown to give Orange an early 2-0 lead.
“(Running) was a part of the game plan,” Pioneers coach Phil Callaghan said.
Collin Matthews led off the Olentangy first with a walk, Nate Monastra hit a one-out single and Cameron Kaiser was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Collin Hoffmann put Olentangy on the board with a sacrifice fly and Olentangy tied it on an error.
Matthew Poole hit a one-out single, stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch to set up Shepherd’s go-ahead base hit to give the Pioneers a 3-2 lead.
Logan Moss worked a walk with one out in the third inning and advanced to third on an errant pickoff before Zach Stiteler’s groundout scored him to push it to 4-2.
“We probably needed to produce a couple of more runs out of those first couple innings,” Callaghan said.
Then, Berto Carselle entered in relief for the Braves and proceeded to set down the next seven batters. He finished the final 4.1 innings and allowed just two hits with a pair of strikeouts to pick up the win.
“I did the job coach wanted me to do,” Carselle said. “My job is to come in, throw strikes and get some groundouts. That’s what I did and we won.”
“(Carselle) came in and did a nice job of throwing strikes in a tight zone for them,” Callaghan said.
Carselle’s performance left the door open for Olentangy to, once again, come off the mat.
Josh Moeller and Thomas Beckman each walked to open the Olentangy fourth inning. Moeller came around and eventually scored on an error and Beckman scored on a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch to tie it up.
Olentangy’s defense took over from there. Strine reached on a grounder up the middle and despite a great effort to get there by Olentangy second baseman Christian McFarland, he beat the leaping throw attempt to put the tying run on.
Strine eventually got to third on a wild pitch before Jason Schutte sent a sinking liner to left that Beckman made a diving grab on to end the game.
“Both teams played well,” Callaghan said. “We thought we played harder the first three innings and they played harder the second four innings. That ends up a one-run game going their way.”
Shepherd led Orange (7-3, 2-3 OCC) at the plate with two hits, a run and a RBI. Strine reached base three times with a hit and two walks and scored a run.
“They’re a solid-hitting team and they put hits together when they needed to,” Carselle said. “We had a few too many free bases that we gave up and they made us pay for them.”
Shepherd took the loss for the Pioneers. He allowed four hits and a walk over two innings in relief of starter Remington Steele.
Both teams continue league play today at 5 p.m. Orange visits Mount Vernon and Olentangy travels to Franklin Heights.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichdelgazette.