There is a fine line between winning and losing. Watkins Memorial found that out today against visiting Olentangy Orange.
The Warriors — who lost to the Pioneers 5-3 on Monday to set up a winner-take-all game — walked that tightrope too many times against Orange, and it ultimately cost them a chance to win the Ohio Capital Conference-Capital Division title.
Watkins received solid pitching from senior Danny Sexton, but the Warriors failed to capitalize on scoring opportunities and committed four errors that led to all three of the Pioneers’ runs in a 3-2 loss.
“When we make mistakes, we are going to lose and we made mistakes again. And that’s what we did up at their place on Monday,” Watkins coach Donald Schone said. “When you play good teams and you make mistakes, you deserve to lose.
“We played a good baseball game. It’s not a matter of we didn’t play good, it’s just we made some really dumb baseball plays.”
Orange (21-3, 12-2) scored a run in the top of the first when the first batter reached on an error and eventually would score with two outs.
Watkins (20-6, 11-3) countered in its half to tie it. Tony Winters singled, and Charlie Schmidt — who went 3-for-3 and had three stolen bases — drove him home with a base hit.
The Pioneers took a 2-1 lead in the second on a throwing error. They could have scored at least one more, but Warriors third baseman Ben Shroyer made a diving stop on a hard-hit ball.
Watkins had runners in scoring position in the second with one out, but failed to score. After Schmidt scored to tie it at 2 in the third with one out, the Warriors left a runner at third.
“Anytime you leave runners in scoring position, it’s not a good situation,” Schone said. “Good teams score runs when they have those opportunities, and you have to depend on someone coming up big, and we didn’t get that.”
Watkins committed two errors in the fourth to allow Orange to take the lead for good at 3-2. Sexton did a good job of getting out of the inning with only one run scoring. After the run scored, the Pioneers had the bases loaded with one out but he got out of it.
“Danny wants the ball and he wants to go after it, and I have all the faith in him in that situation,” Schone said. “He is a bulldog and he will fight, and he doesn’t care if the bases are loaded or not, he wants the ball.”
Sexton pitched well enough to win. He allowed five hits and two walks, striking out eight. All three runs he allowed were unearned.
“We had some opportunities, and of course Sexton is such a good pitcher. But all three runs we scored came with two outs,” Orange coach Phil Callaghan said. “We call them championship runs, and they sure proved to be that (today).
“It was a great game — the exact way it was supposed to be — two good teams going at it. It was a challenge for our guys and they played two great games.”
The Warriors had one final chance to tie it when they had runners on first and third with one out in the fifth, but Orange turned a double play to end the threat.
“That’s why good teams do what they do,” Schone said. “They take advantage when you make mistakes. That’s why they are the No. 2 seed.”