The Orange baseball team usually doesn’t lose when it puts together the three phases of the game. Case in point: Friday against Olentangy.
The Pioneers received a complete game from senior starter Jake Ross, strong defense and two huge innings of offense for a 10-1 Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division win over the Braves at Orange High School.
“That was the first really good baseball we’ve played,” Orange coach Phil Callaghan said. “It was good to see it at a good time. I liked how aggressive we were at the plate, we ran the bases well, we played great defense and Jake Ross did a great job coming back and pitching his first game.”
Orange (5-1, 3-0 OCC Capital) had just one hit through three innings, but scored nine times in the next two innings on nine hits, helped by three walks, a balk and a sacrifice fly.
“We were right there in the fourth inning, and then all of a sudden, we’re down,” Olentangy coach Ryan Lucas said. “It’s all about mental toughness — do we have the ability to bounce back when we make a mistake. When they got their second run, you could see our body language collapse. We have to get tougher to do what we want to do.”
Olentangy (3-4, 2-1) played a strong game through three, tying the game at one with a run in the third, but did not have a hit and saw just four players reach base from the fourth inning on.
Ross went the distance for the win, allowing just an unearned run, three hits, three walks and a hit batsman while striking out four. Orange helped itself on the defensive end as well, throwing out a runner at third trying to stretch a double into a triple in the first inning, picking off a runner at second in the third and recording three double plays in the final three innings.
“Those three double plays certainly helped,” Callaghan said. “This was the first time (junior second baseman) Brandon Voytus has played this year, and he looked good out there, and of course Jake was pitching his first game this season, so a good job by the both of those two.”
Orange opened the scoring in the last half of the first. Sophomore shortstop Colin Shepherd reached on an one-out error, went to second on a wild pitch, and scored when senior third baseman Cody McCague doubled down the left field line.
Olentangy got the run back in the third. Junior designated hitter Drew Batt drew a one-out walk, moved to second on a single to shallow left by junior right fielder Luke Porter and, after a passed ball moved the runners up, scored on a single up the middle by sophomore shortstop Deeb Haber.
But the Pioneers took command in the fourth. Shepherd drew a lead off walk and went all the way to third with one out on a failed pick-off. Senior left fielder Matt Smith followed with a single to drive Shepherd home with the go-ahead run.
Smith took second on a wild pitch and scored on a single to left center field by junior shortstop Tyler Johnson. Senior center fielder Nick Mancini then singled to left, and junior designated hitter Blake Sells singled to center, scoring Johnson and sending Mancini to third.
Voytus, brought in to run for Sells, stole second, and junior right fielder Hunter Kightlinger hit a hard grounder up the middle, scoring both runners and knocking Braves senior left-hander Donal Baker out of the game.
Orange then secured the win with four more in the fifth on an RBI single by Mancini that scored McCague, a sacrifice fly in foul territory that plated Smith and a two-out, two-run single by Ross down the right field line scoring Johnson and Mancini.
Smith, Johnson and Mancini each finished with two singles and an RBI, while McCague added a double and drove in a run. Sells, Kightlinger and Ross also had a single and two RBIs apiece.
Senior left fielder Tim Feasel had a double for the Braves, with Porter and Haber adding singles, Haber driving in the lone Olentangy run.