By Michael Rich
The Olentangy Liberty baseball team got timely hitting and a couple of solid, timely defensive plays to pick up its 15th-straight victory — a 4-2 non-league win at district-rival Olentangy in Friday’s regular season finale.
Liberty shortstop Chase Gresock had the perfect redemption story — all in the span of one inning.
He bobbled a couple of balls for errors that allowed Olentangy to load the bases with two outs in the sixth.
“Those were two really tough plays,” Gresock said. “The first one, I didn’t get a grip on it and the second one kind of ate me up a little bit.”
Reliever Connor Stewart bailed him out by coaxing a grounder back to the mound to preserve the one-run lead.
“He’s starting to relish that role,” Liberty coach Ty Brenning said. “He likes to come in when the game is tight.”
Gresock responded at the plate with a double to the left-center gap to drive in Liberty’s final run. He had three hits to lead the Patriots and scored a run as part of a two-run first inning.
“A lot of our guys are modeling their game after him because not only is he a great leader, but he’s a great role-model,” Brenning said. “I think he’s one of the best players around in all of Central Ohio.”
He got his chance to redeem himself in the field when Christian McFarland sent a hard shot that bounced up to Gresock. He fielded it cleanly and threw out McFarland for the first out of the inning.
“Through all of that, the thing that I was most proud of is he wanted the ball hit to him again,” Brenning said. “He’s the definition of a competitor … he’s the definition of tough.”
“I wanted to make sure that people knew that I wanted the ball and I was going to make the next play,” Gresock said.
Stewart retired the side in order to earn the four-out save.
Liberty took the lead on a great defensive play. Jordan Seich opened the inning with a walk and later scored when Corey Mayer sent a hard shot back up the middle that McFarland snagged to get an out. Seich scored on the play to give Liberty the lead.
The Braves fielded well, just couldn’t get the big hit they needed.
“We just couldn’t capitalize with a big hit,” Olentangy coach Ryan Lucas said.
Nate Monastra and Josh Moeller drove in each of the Olentangy runs. Moeller doubled with two outs in the fourth to tie it 2-2.
Monastra and Moeller each had two hits to lead Olentangy (19-8).
Liberty got back-to-back-to-back hits in the first inning by Gresock, Mitchell Okuley and Spencer Yankle to take a 2-0 lead.
“I don’t think (Collin Hoffmann) threw it badly in the first inning,” Lucas said. “I think he was probably too much in the middle of the plate, but I thought he battled.”
Hoffmann recovered to retire the side in order. He settled in and retired 12 of the next 14 hitters. Overall, he allowed four runs (three earned) on eight hits while walking two and striking out seven.
Hunter Voorhees got the win for the Patriots in relief of Preston Stanley. He allowed two hits, a walk and a strikeout over 2.2 innings.
Seich had two hits and a walk in three plate appearances and scored two runs and Okuley had two hits, drove in a run and scored a run for Liberty (22-3).
Next up, both teams open tournament play in the second round of the district tournament Wednesday night at 5 p.m. Olentangy hosts the winner of Central Crossing and Groveport-Madison and Liberty welcomes the winner of Briggs and Franklin Heights.
Delaware Christian 4, Madison Christian 0
Ryan Manny, Riley Michalak and Andrew Standley combined on a two-hit shutout as the Eagles notched a MOCAL win Friday in Groveport.
Manny tossed the first three innings, allowing a hit while striking out four and walking one. Michalak pitched the next two, allowing the other hit, while Standley sealed the deal with a solid showing in the sixth and seventh.
DCS (6-9) managed just four hits of its own, but they proved to be more than enough. Adam Standley led the Eagles at the plate, finishing 2-f0r-3 with an RBI.
Hayes 13, Westland 6
The Pacers picked up their second win in as many days, getting big-time production from Mason W. Davis, Mason McGeath and Gabe Phillips en route to a lopsided non-league win Friday in Galloway.
The trio combined for 10 hits and six RBI. Davis finished 4-for-5 with two doubles, two RBI and two runs scored, McGeath closed 3-for-4 with three RBI and two runs scored and Phillips had three hits and three runs scored in the win.
Noah Watts also had a nice night, finishing 2-for-4 with a triple and two knocked in while Jason Cross picked up the complete-game win on the mound.
Also: Orange 5, Buckeye Valley 1.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichdelgazette.