COLUMBUS, Ohio – The La Salle baseball team just continues to find a way.
And now the Lancers are one game from being state champions for the first time in the 50-year history of the program.
Junior Brady Reynolds scored the game-winning run after a wild pitch with two outs in the bottom of the seventh as the Lancers defeated Solon 5-4 in a Division I state semifinal at Huntington Park.
“This is the best feeling I ever had,” Reynolds said. “I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
La Salle (25-7) plays Pickerington North (22-9), a 5-3 winner over Cleveland St. Ignatiius, in the state final at 1 p.m. Saturday at Huntington Park. La Salle is making just its second trip to the state tournament and the first since 1995 when the Lancers were runners-up.
With the scored tied at 4 Thursday, Reynolds led off the seventh with a walk. Senior Kevin Browne followed up with a walk before Solon made a pitching change. La Salle junior Micah Allen’s sacrifice bunt moved up the runners to second and third.
After a strikeout, senior Jon Hambrick worked the count to 3-2. A wild pitch on the full count allowed Reynolds to score. Hambrick, who was 2-for-3 with a run, was pushed by his teammates and coaches to touch first base to complete the walk.
“There were a lot of balls in the dirt,” La Salle coach Joe Voegele said. “We thought we would have a chance to do something like that. It came at an opportune time.”
Reynolds figured a fastball was coming, but once he saw the ball get away from the catcher, he heard his coach yell 'go.'
“Once I saw the ball kick away, I knew we were playing for a state championship,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds was 2-for-2 with two runs. He also scored in the third as La Salle took a 2-1 lead when Browne had a two-run double.
Solon (25-5) scored in the fourth and two runs in the fifth. But the Lancers took advantage of timely hitting and Solon’s micues in the sixth.
Sophomore Griffin Merritt singled. Hambrick’s bunt made it first and second off Solon left-handed starter Nathan Alstadt.
Hambrick said he just needed to get on base any way he could when that bunt sign was in.
“It’s awesome,” Hambrick said of Thursday. “It’s a dream come true to play on a field like this, especially to get a win like this in the semifinal of the state tournament.”
Junior Baron Moreland reached first on a throwing to drive in sophomore Griffin Merritt. Then, senior Tim Casey’s sacrifice bunt allowed Hambrick to score to tie the game at 4-all.
Senior Jacob Kaiser went the distance for La Salle and struck out six. He improved to 10-1 on the mound.
La Salle was unranked in the final state coaches’ poll, while Solon was ranked eighth.