In a game dominated by pitching and defense, coach Ryan Lucas’ Braves prevailed.
Olentangy pushed across a pair of runs in both the second and fifth innings to post a 4-2 victory over rival Big Walnut in the Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division opener for both teams Wednesday afternoon in Sunbury.
Chris Holly’s Golden Eagles (2-1, 0-1 OCC) took an early 1-0 first-inning lead thanks to Nick Moser’s leadoff bunt single. After moving to second on a ground ball out, Moser stole third and came home on Brayden Shepherd’s RBI-single off Olentangy’s starting and winning pitcher sophomore Collin Hoffman.
The Braves (2-3, 1-0 OCC) were quick to answer, scoring a pair of runs off Big Walnut junior starter and loser Garrett Grover in the top of the second inning. Junior Grant Helber walked and came home on junior Luke Porter’s double to tie the game at 1-1. Hoffman and sophomore Deeb Haber drew back-to-back walks to load the bases before sophomore Christian McFarland plated Porter with a sacrifice fly to left to give Olentangy a 2-1 lead.
Olentangy made it 4-1 with two runs in the fifth off Grover. Junior Joe McGuinness and senior Tim Feasel led off the inning with back-to-back singles to put runners at the corners. After Holly went to his bullpen to bring in senior Jeremy Bok, who blanked the Braves on two hits over the final three innings in relief, Helber bounced into a fielder’s choice to plate McGuinness. With runners at second and third, Porter grounded out to third to score Feasel.
Big Walnut, after taking the early 1-0 lead, managed only six baserunners over the final six innings. Grover accounted for the lone Golden Eagle run with a solo home run off Hoffman in the bottom of the fifth. Big Walnut had three singles, a walk and a hit batsman as the Olentangy defense turned two double plays, picked off a runner in the seventh and threw out a runner at second attempting to stretch a single into a double.
“We came out and played solid defense,” Lucas said. “Collin and Donal were in control on the mound, allowing only six hits, and they were backed by defense that made the plays we needed to be successful. While we collected only six hits, they were timely hits which led to runs and the eventual victory.”
For Big Walnut, it was a matter of not taking advantage of opportunities.
“We ran ourselves out of several opportunities and, like Olentangy, we did not swing the bats well,” Golden Eagle assistant coach Carl Weiss said. “On the mound, Garrett had some control issues, walking five batters, including three in the second inning when they took the early lead.”