COLUMBUS, Ohio – It’s good to be hot. For Olentangy Liberty (29-4), the Patriots took the momentum of its regional final victory over New Albany and made quick work of Medina Highland (19-10), 13-2, in the Division I state semifinal at Huntington Park on Friday in five innings.
Liberty had its first five runners reach base in the top of the first, as a double from senior Corey Mayer drove in two runs to open the game up, putting the Patriots ahead 4-0. The first inning saw the Patriots put together four hits and a walk, as the top four of its order all scored to begin the game.
Highland struck back quickly, adding two runs in the bottom of the second inning, however the Hornets left bases loaded with one out. Liberty senior lefty Mitch Milheim worked out of a jam, striking out Tyler Savron and getting Sam Zeleznik to ground out to limit the bleeding in what might’ve changed Friday’s game.
In an inning reminiscent of the first, Liberty wasted no time in the top of the third. With runners in scoring position, Mayer delivered again, driving a ball to left field to bring Brennan Rowe across the plate.
The bases loaded for Liberty once again, as a bunt single from junior Justin Nelson on a suicide squeeze added another run. Milheim broke the game completely open moments later, as his two-RBI drive to center field put the Patriots on top 8-2.
In an inning where Liberty batted through its entire lineup, the Patriots collected four hits in the third, as its top four hitters all scored in the inning.
Milheim shut down the Highland lineup for the next two and a third innings, setting down all eight batters that he faced to eliminate any chance of a spirited Hornet rally.
Liberty added five more runs in the fourth and fifth innings, putting Friday’s state semifinal in run rule territory. In the fifth, Mayer tacked on his fourth RBI of the morning, as he walked with the bases loaded. Junior Craig Lutwen and senior Connor Osmond added RBIs in the next two at bats, which put the Patriots ahead 13-2.
Going into the bottom of the fifth, Milheim got Ryan Chena to fly out on one pitch before Liberty went to senior Beau Foster to close out the game. Walking off the mound for more than likely the last time in his career, Milheim did it in style, going 4.1 innings, allowing just two runs on three hits. Milheim aided his brilliant pitching performance with three RBIs at the plate.
Foster retired the next two batters on eight pitches, shutting down Friday’s semifinal in five innings, as Liberty advances for a chance to win its first state title in school history.
For as good as Milheim was on the mound, the story for the Patriots on Friday was its buzzsaw of an offense. Exploding for 13 runs, eight of Liberty’s nine batters each had a hit, while the bottom five of its order combined for seven hits and 11 RBIs.
With the win, Liberty advances to the state final to take on the winner of Mason (26-5) and Anthony Wayne (25-4). The Patriots are likely to start junior Jack Metzger on the mound in the final. Metzger threw a complete game in the regional final win over New Albany, but expect the Patriots to utilize its deep bullpen if necessary.
The Division I state final will take place on Saturday at 4 p.m. at Huntington Park.
Mitch Okuley: 1-4, R
Carson Comer: 2-2, 2 R
Brennan Rowe: 1-2, 2 R, RBI
– Michael Osmond: R
Corbin Parrish: 3-4, 3 R
Corey Mayer: 2-2, R, 4 RBI
– AJ Rausch: R
Craig Lutwen: 0-2, R, RBI
Justin Nelson: 2-4, 2 RBI
Mitch Milheim: 2-3, 3RBI
Total: 13 runs, 13 hits, 12 RBI, 7 BB, 1 K
Mitch Milheim: 4.1 IP, 3H, 2R, 2BB, 4K, 74 pitches
Beau Foster: 0.2 IP, 8 pitches