DUBLIN, Ohio — No top five seed will play for a trip to state. Delivering big hits all afternoon long on Thursday in the regional semifinal round, No. 6 Hilliard Darby and No. 7 Upper Arlington advanced to the regional finals with wins over the top two seeds in the tournament. Let’s take a look at what happened.
No. 7 Upper Arlington 5, No. 1 New Albany 2
The Sammy Sass Game™.
Setting the tone in the first inning with a rocket shot to left field off New Albany junior Jack Sokol, Sass was just getting started on Thursday. Going 4-4 with three doubles and two RBIs, Sass put Upper Arlington (21-9) on his back to lead the Golden Bears over top-seeded New Albany (27-1), 5-2.
Sass doubled in the third inning which helped Upper Arlington break the game open as seniors Ben Krimm and Charlie Fleming drove two runs across the plate to help the Golden Bears strike first.
One inning later, Upper Arlington added two more runs, as senior Tommy Dilz and Sass put together back-to-back hits to extend its lead to 4-0. Sass’ second double came on a near home run, launching a Sokol fastball that hit off the top of the fence before coming back in the field of play.
New Albany showed some life in the bottom of the fifth, as junior Jimmy Stevens hit a double to center field which put the Eagles on the board.
Unfortunately for New Albany, Sass wasn’t done mashing at the plate. Hitting his third triple moments later, Sass drove in another run, extending the Upper Arlington lead back to four runs in the top of the sixth.
New Albany strung together another run in the bottom of the seventh, however, it was too little, too late as the Eagles ended its season at 27-2.
Upper Arlington received huge outings from its top two hitters, as Dilz and Sass combined to go 6-7, reaching base seven times and driving in and scoring three runs. The Golden Bears had four extra-base hits and put pressure on New Albany in nearly every inning, striking first and holding on late.
Senior pitcher Charlie Fleming threw a complete game, allowing five hits and striking out eight. Fleming commanded the strike zone, wasting very little time and and not allowing a single walk. Fleming forced 11 ground ball outs and prevented New Albany from making solid contact for the majority of the game.
Upper Arlington advances to the regional final and will have two fresh arms in seniors Ben Krimm and Ethan Hammerberg, who combined to take down defending state champion Olentangy Liberty in the district finals.
The Golden Bears improved to 5-0 all-time in the regional semifinals, as they will play for their first trip to state since 1990 on Friday.
No. 6 Hilliard Darby 5, No. 2 Lancaster 3
Despite giving up a two-run home run in the opening frame, Hilliard Darby (23-7) rallied back with a 4-1 run over the next six innings to take down Lancaster (26-4), 5-3.
Darby used timely infield singles and small ball to take down a Lancaster team that came into Thursday’s regional semifinal without giving up a single run for the entire tournament. The Panthers pushed across a run in the top of the first, one more in the second and then opened up the game with three runs in the fifth and six innings to take a commanding lead.
Lancaster couldn’t put together enough hits to overcome the 5-2 deficit, managing just one run after the first inning.
Hilliard Darby wins its second-straight game over a top three seed after knocking off No. 3 Olentangy Orange in the district finals. Senior Seth Schmidt threw a complete game for Darby who will play for a regional title against Upper Arlington on Friday at 5 p.m.