You won’t find games more dissimilar than the two the Olentangy Braves and Liberty Patriots played over the last four days.
Liberty won an offensive battle over the Braves Friday night, but Olentangy won the pitcher’s duel Monday, scoring three times in the eighth for a 3-1 Ohio Capital Conference Cardinal Division victory over the Patriots at Liberty High School.
“We had two pitchers, their pitcher and ours, who both pitched great games,” Olentangy coach Steve Little said. “We just kept coming at them, moving runners and doing some stuff. We did a lot to keep pressure on them and got some clutch hits, the kind we haven’t had the last few games. It was just a great high school baseball game.”
“In many ways, the quality of tonight’s game was of a much higher quality, by both teams,” Liberty coach Ty Brenning said. “When you’re playing high quality baseball, the margin of error is small, and tonight, Olentangy got a couple timely hits and made plays when they had to.”
Both teams went hitless until the fifth inning, and both Olentangy (8-5, 5-1 OCC Cardinal) and Liberty (6-6, 2-2) were scoreless until the eighth inning, thanks in large part to solid defense and the pitching of Brave junior right-hander Casey Stanley and Patriot senior starter Zach Glaze.
Stanley earned the victory, working all eight innings while still throwing less than 100 pitches. The junior allowed just one earned run in the eighth on four hits and two walks with two strikeouts.
“Casey just pitched a great game,” Little said. “We kept an eye on his pitch count, but he was way under his pitch count today. He was very efficient with his pitches. He has command of three pitches, and he threw them all well. He did a nice job today.”
Glaze was just as tough for Liberty, but lost the game when Olentangy scored three unearned runs in the top of the eighth. The senior right-hander also went the full eight innings, allowing no earned runs, six hits and four walks while striking out five, working out of tight situations in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings.
“Obviously, anytime you get eight innings out of your starter and competing the way Zach did, it’s a good day,” Brenning said. “He’s a kid that likes to work quick and get in a tempo. He wants the hitters to wait on him, not the other way around. We played some great defense behind him, and when you work quick and throw down in the zone like he does, you’re going to get out of jams.”
But things turned in that eighth inning. Junior third baseman Christian Brett bunted down the third base line and Glaze fielded it, but the throw to first was wide, and Brett took second on the error.
Senior center fielder Will Brett then drew a walk on four pitches, and senior catcher Woody Wallace, who struck out in a potential run-scoring situation in the sixth, rebounded by slapping a single through the left side of the infield to score Christian Brett.
“Woody was pressing in a couple of situations,” Little said. “He’s such a great player that we just told him to step back and let the game come to him. He relaxed, got a ball he could get the barrel on and did a nice job.”
One out later, senior designated hitter Avery Moore cracked a double into the gap in right center field, scoring both Will Brett and Wallace.
“Avery’s been hitting the ball well the last few games,” Little said. “He had a couple big doubles today.”
Liberty opened the bottom half of the inning with two groundouts, but junior center fielder Alec Snider ripped a double to deep center field, and junior left fielder Tyler Welch followed with a double to left field, scoring Snider.
Freshman shortstop Cameron Comer then hit a fly ball down the left field line, but Olentangy sophomore left fielder Tim Feasel ran the ball down for the final out.
“We had the tying run at the plate and one of our best hitters in the box,” Brenning said. “That’s all you can ask for. A lot of times, kids will shy away from those opportunities, but our kids came in, put their helmets on and were ready to go, and that’s a good feeling.”
Moore had a pair of doubles and two RBIs to lead the Braves’ offense. Wallace, Christian Brett, Will Brett and junior right fielder Griffin Binkley added a single each, Wallace adding his eighth-inning RBI.
Snider topped the Liberty attack with two hits, including his eighth-inning double. Welch and senior catcher Davis Martin added a single each, Welch adding his RBI.