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Olentangy Orange squeezes out 3-2 win in nine innings over Anthony Wayne in Division I state semifinals

Keegan Knupp laid down a squeeze bunt to score Cole Cahill in the bottom of the ninth for the walk-off win
Olentangy Orange baseball

AKRON, Ohio – Every kid dreams of a situation where they come to the plate in the bases loaded in a playoff game.

Olentangy Orange sophomore Keegan Knupp lived out that dream on Thursday afternoon in the OHSAA Division I state semifinals against Anthony Wayne at Canal Park, and he delivered with a walk-off squeeze bunt in the bottom of the ninth to score Cole Cahill, giving the Pioneers a 3-2 win.

“There's no better feeling,” Knupp said. “I’ve always dreamed of it since I was a little kid. It’s just crazy.”

Cahill had led off the ninth with a triple to the wall in left center and then couldn’t score when Diego Astacio grounded out to first. But Anthony Wayne intentionally walked Tyler Fuller and Evan Eichel to load the bases and set up a force at any base.

But Orange head coach Tom Marker wasn’t going to take a chance at hitting into an inning-ending double play and put on the squeeze play. Knupp knew his role.

“The first two pitches were fake bunt and then coach told me to squeeze so I knew I had to get it down,” Knupp said. “My thought was just get the job done and do whatever it takes to win.”

Cahill had no doubt that his teammate would get the job done.

“I saw coach Marker call it out on the card,” Cahill said. “I knew Knupp was going to get that bunt down and I knew I was going to score the game-winning run."

The ninth inning came after a crazy finish to the game that saw Orange tie the game 1-1 in the bottom of the seventh on a bases loaded walk and then again in the eighth on a bases loaded hit by pitch after Anthony Wayne had gone ahead 2-1 in the top of the eighth.

But after the Generals couldn’t get anything in the ninth, Cahill stepped up with one thing in mind to lead off Orange’s half of the inning.

“(I was) just looking for a fastball and he gave me a fastball,” Cahills said. “And I knew the guys behind me would get me in.”

Cahill went the first eight innings on the hill for the Pioneers and gave up two runs on six hits and struck out three. He gave up a run in the first inning but settled in after that.

“It sucks to give up a run, but I knew these guys would do it for me, they have my back,” Cahill said. “I felt good. Coach Marker talked to me and reminded me these guys are behind me.”

After surviving a crazy afternoon on Thursday, the Pioneers will now face Archbishop Moeller in the Division I state championship game on Saturday morning at 10 am and will be looking to win the second state title in program history.

“It’s just crazy,” Cahill said. “That game, you can’t make that up, it’s nuts. They are one hell of a team and it was our day I guess and we got it done.”