COLUMBUS, Ohio – And then there was one.
Olentangy Liberty (30-4) left no doubt as it dominated Anthony Wayne (27-5), 8-1, to capture its first state title in school history on Saturday at Huntington Park. In its first trip to the state tournament, Liberty outscored opponents 21-3 to win the Division I state championship.
The Patriots’ bats were alive once again, scoring eight runs on 11 hits to put down a Generals team that shutout the tournament favorite Mason in the semifinals on Friday.
Much like its semifinal win over Medina Highland, Liberty surged ahead in the opening frame, loading the bases with one out. Fresh off a four-RBI performance in the win over Highland, senior Corey Mayer was up to his old tricks, as a bases clearing double from him scored three runs and helped the Patriots establish early control of the game.
Anthony Wayne manufactured a run in the following inning, as Andrew Murphy scored after a single to begin the frame. Anthony Wayne did not score again, however, as Liberty junior pitcher Jack Metzger began to heat up from that point forward.
Metzger proceeded to retire 17 of the next 20 batters he faced, while not allowing any Wayne player to go further than second base in that span.
Liberty gave Metzger enough run support and then some by tacking on four additional runs in the bottom of the third, as junior Justin Nelson drove in two runs on a triple in the left center field gap, stretching the lead to 5-1. Moments later, Nelson was driven in on a single by junior Mitch Okuley, who then scored just a few pitches later.
Leading 7-1 through three innings, Liberty was at no risk to allow a gut-wrenching comeback, as the Patriots shut down the General offense with efficient pitching from Metzger and clean defense in the field. Metzger did an outstanding job of limiting hittable pitches, as Anthony Wayne failed to hit the ball out of the infield for three of the final four innings.
Liberty’s bats were on fire for most of the game, as Nelson was the hottest of them all, going 3-3 with three RBIs. Mayer added three additional RBIs on his bases clearing double in the momentum-changing opening inning.
For the third-straight game, Liberty had at least seven players in its lineup with a hit in a span where the Patriots outscored opponents 29-4. Included in that dominance was Metzger, who threw his second complete game in as many tries since last Friday’s regional final win over New Albany.
Metzger had it working once again on Saturday, as the junior right hander went the distance, allowing no earned runs on three hits while striking out seven Anthony Wayne hitters. The Generals had just three players advance past first base, as Liberty played a flawless defensive game, while Metzger did a great job of limiting hard contact for the entire afternoon.
Liberty becomes the second Central Ohio team in three years to win a Division I state title, joining Pickerington North in 2016. The Patriots finished the season at 30-4, winning 17 of its last 18 games. Liberty won three of its first four tournament games by a run each before dominating the regional final, state semifinal and state final in impressive fashion.
With its first state title under its belt, Liberty has a ton to look forward to as the Patriots return six of its nine starters from Saturday. As the only team left from Central Ohio in the tournament, Liberty made the Columbus area proud with a truly dominant performance against the state’s top competition.
Mitch Okuley: 2-4, R, RBI
Carson Comer: 1-2, R
Brennan Rowe: 1-2, R
Corbin Parrish: 1-3, R
Corey Mayer: 1-3, 3 RBI
– AJ Rausch: R
Craig Lutwen: 0-3
Connor Osmond: 2-3, 2 R
Justin Nelson: 3-3, 3 RBI – offensive MVP
Jack Metzger: 0-3
Total: 8 R, 11 H, 7 RBI
Jack Metzger: W, 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 7 K – MVP