Sure, the Orange Pioneers won Wednesday’s Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division game over the Hayes Pacers 15-3 at Fouts-Wood Field … but the score doesn’t entirely tell the tale.
Both Orange (10-3, 5-1 OCC Capital) and Hayes (9-4, 3-4) hit the ball hard, but while the Pioneers found gaps, the Pacers could not. Orange finished with 14 hits on the night while Hayes batters finished with six, with 10 of the Pacers’ 18 outs coming on fly balls, pop ups or line drives.
“We sort of expected that at the beginning,” Orange coach Phil Callaghan said. “We changed the lineup a little bit today and guys looked a little more comfortable. It was good to see our guys up and down the lineup hitting the ball. There were a lot of line drives for them and us. It was a good day to hit the baseball.”
“I was really pleased with our hitting,” Hayes coach Ryan Montgomery said. “We hit the ball great. We had a lot of line drives that found their fielders, and they had a lot that fell in. That’s baseball some days, but I was really pleased with the hitting.”
Pioneer senior right-hander Jake Ross earned the win on the hill, allowing just three runs, six hits, two walks and a hit batsman in six innings while striking out one. Ross threw just 86 pitches in the game, 55 for strikes, helping Orange rest a somewhat tired pitching staff.
“Jake gave us the kind of outing we needed,” Callaghan said. “We had a rest day yesterday, so our pitching staff is intact, and today Jake came out and threw a great game.”
Hayes senior lefty Jackson Boger had a rough start and took the loss, allowing eight runs, four earned, four hits, four walks and a hit batter with one strikeout. Boger lasted just one inning plus five batters in the second, throwing 47 pitches, 24 for strikes.
Junior left-hander Braden Schmidt worked the final five innings and was touched for seven runs and 10 hits, walking four and hitting four batters while striking out three, but was still able to keep the Pacers within reach in his early frames, allowing just a run in his first three innings.
“We’ve put Braden in some tough situations before,” Montgomery said. “He threw five quality innings at Liberty for the win there, and so to see him coming into this type of situation competing, throwing strikes, battling and keeping us in the game says a lot about his character and a lot about our team.”
Orange opened with three runs in the first on a two-run double by junior shortstop Tyler Johnson that brought home junior second baseman Brandon Voytus and senior third baseman Cody McCague, and a passed ball later in the inning allowed Johnson to score from third.
The Pioneers then added five in the second to knock Boger out of the game. Senior center fielder Nick Mancini scored on an error on a sacrifice bunt attempt, McCague hit a two-run double down the left field line to score senior catcher Alec McCurry and Voytus, McCague scored on another error on a sacrifice try, and junior designated hitter Philip Carlier singled home Johnson, who reached on a walk earlier.
Hayes got two runs back in the bottom of the second. Senior designated hitter Mike Sweeney hit an infield single up the middle that Voytus kept on the infield with a diving stop, and junior right fielder Josh Daughenbaugh pounded a two-run home run to left field.
Orange got a run back in the third when sophomore first baseman Colin Shepherd drove in McCague on a bloop single to left, but the Pacers countered that with a run in their half as senior center fielder Connor Ulmer led off the inning with a single down the third base line, took second on a single by senior catcher Greg Suber, went to third on a walk to Sweeney and scored on a fielder’s choice by Daughenbaugh.
The Pioneers broke the game open in the fifth, scoring three times. Shepherd had an RBI single that scored McCague, while Mancini hit a two-run single to right center to plate senior left fielder Matt Smith and Shepherd.
Orange bumped the lead to double digits in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Smith that scored Voytus, an RBI single by Shepherd to plate McCague and a sac fly by Carlier that sent Johnson home.
Hayes had a chance to try to send the game into a seventh inning, getting junior shortstop Noble Moore to third and senior first baseman Gaige Linville to second with one out in the bottom half, but a strikeout and a pop out invoked the run rule.
“We talked after the game about how we are so close to taking the next step,” Montgomery said. “It’s something we have to figure out as a program, but I was really pleased to see us keep competing. We didn’t give up after we got down 8-0.”
Shepherd had three singles, McCague and Johnson a double and single apiece and Carlier and Mancini two singles each to pace the Pioneer offense, Shepherd driving in three runs with McCague, Johnson, Carlier and Mancini adding two RBIs each. McCague also scored five runs in the game.
Voytus added a double and scored three runs, while Smith and junior right fielder Hunter Kightlinger had a single each, Smith adding one RBI.
Linville finished with two singles for the Pacers while Daughenbaugh added his two-run blast and a run while driving in all three Pacer runs. Ulmer, Suber and Sweeney each added one single, with Ulmer and Sweeney scoring one run apiece.
•Liberty overwhelmed visiting Westland, parlaying a nine-run first inning into a lopsided 31-0 OCC-Central Division win Wednesday in Powell.
The game, which lasted just five innings, was never in doubt. The Patriots (12-4) added four more runs in the second and three in the third before sealing the deal with a 15-run fourth.
Danny Kirchner led the way with a game-high three hits and four RBIs while Chase Gresock knocked in four of his own.
Mitchell Griffiths picked up the win on the mound, striking out nine in his four innings of work
•Collin Hoffman silenced visiting New Albany Wednesday in Lewis Center, allowing just two hits en route to a 9-0 complete-game win.
Hoffman was around the plate all night, starting 16 New Albany hitters with first-pitch strikes while striking out nine Eagles in the win.
Tim Feasel and Austin Moore sparked the Olentangy offense, each finishing with two hits. Grant Helber was also steady, knocking in both runs.