UPPER ARLINGTON — Lancaster and Grove City are getting used to playing instant classics, and this year’s Division I Central District championship game was no different.
A year ago, the Golden Gales came away with a 2-1 11-inning thriller against the Greyhounds to win their third straight district championship.
The 2022 version had all the ingredients of another nail biter, only this one took two extra days. After playing 6 1/3 innings of baseball scoreless Thursday at Olentangy Orange High School before rains stopped the game, it resumed Saturday at Upper Arlington High School.
Neither team scored in the sixth or seventh inning, but Grove City (22-5) was able to pull off a pair of runs in the top of the eighth inning and then let two Lancaster runners (21-6 ) blocked at the bottom. half of the eighth to come away with a heartbreaking 2-0 victory, giving the Greyhounds their first district championship since 2014.
Grove City take on Hilliard Darby on Thursday at 2pm in a regional semi-final at Dublin Coffman High School.
“We knew what we were getting into if we were to play against Lancaster again,” said Grove City manager Ryan Alexander. “I’ve seen Coach (Corey) Conn take this program from a struggling team to a full powerhouse in central Ohio, so I know how hard he’s worked to build this, and we have the greatest respect for this program.
“After last year we lost like we did in 11 rounds and we feel we should have won, it’s great to get this one, especially since we didn’t win district title for a while now.”
The Greyhounds started the eighth inning with a brace from Grady Speegle against Lancaster starter Layton O’Rourke. Braylon Boggs entered the run for Speegle, and with two outs, Trent Ruffing hit a perfect bunt and could barely beat the first pitch, allowing Boggs to score.
After Keegan Holmstrom walked, Jackson Ware hit a bloop single to left field and Lancaster’s Riley Poston shot, but Ruffing was called safe on a bang-bang play to give Grove City a 2-0 lead.
Lancaster threatened in the bottom of the inning as Dom Bornino led off with a single, but the Greyhounds converted a double play. Ajay Locke then reached an error and Harrison Allen followed with a field single, but Ware, who pitched all three innings, was able to end the threat with a pop-out at first base.
“We were confident and our guys knew they played well (Thursday) and we knew we could go to two really good pitchers,” Conn said. “We were right there. We had a few hard-hit balls that somehow found gloves, and that’s baseball. “You knew coming in that kind of feeling had again like last year that it was going to last for a while. When you face Grove City you always know you’re going to fight, but I’m proud of how our guys fought.
Thursday, Bornino threw a no-hitter for the first 5 1/3 innings, and the Greyhounds, Holmstrom had allowed only one hit, a first single to Tony Falvo.
“These two were on fire Thursday night and both were doing business,” Alexander said. “We really enjoy ourselves as a great hitting team, and to have no hits, we weren’t really in a good position, mentally, going from there, so to come back and fight like we have. fact, getting the two days allowed us to recharge a bit.
Tom Wilson is a sports reporter for the Lancaster Eagle Gazette. Contact him at 740-689-5150 or email [email protected] for comment or story advice. Follow him on Twitter @twil2323.