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2021 OHSAA Baseball State Tournament Preview

June 9, 2021
2021 OHSAA Baseball State Tournament Preview
Division I
By Bruce Hefflinger, Prep Baseball Report
WALSH JESUIT:  The Warriors have dominated in the tournament by a combined score of 50-2 to make it to the Final Four for the first time since 2010. Walsh Jesuit, which won state titles in 1999, 2004, 2006 and 2008, will be making an eighth trip to state where the Warriors own a 10-3 record. The closest game of the tournament for Walsh was a 3-1 win over Dover in the district title game. At regionals, the second-ranked D-I team in Ohio by Prep Baseball Report and number three by the OHSBCA routed Mentor 17-1 to avenge a 7-5 loss to the Cardinals in the 2019 regional finals. Walsh then blanked Mayfield 7-0 behind 6-8 senior left-hander Erik Stern, who in the district game with Dover took a no-hitter into the seventh. Sophomore Ryan Piech, a Xavier commit, headlines a deep staff that includes 10th-grade Cincinnati recruit Drew Erdmann, senior USC-Upstate commit Jacob Armsey, junior Tyler Barni and Stern. Junior shortstop Henry Kaczmar, the son of head coach Chris Kaczmar, is one of two Michigan commits on the team along with sophomore catcher Mason Eckelman. Juniors Andrew Gormley, Casey Kish and Mark Serdinak along with sophomores Joey Canzoni and Alejandro Covas are other major producers for Walsh.  
NEW ALBANY: The Eagles knocked off Olentangy Orange, the top-ranked team in Ohio by Prep Baseball Report, 3-1 in the regional finals to earn the school’s second state appearance. The Eagles, which had advanced to regionals the past three tournaments, won the 2004 Division III state crown with a 5-4 victory over Coldwater. It has truly been a team effort for New Albany, which has used five different pitchers in the tournament, with no complete games. Senior RHP Ian Hoff, junior LHP Andrew Trybus, junior RHP Brady Conley and sophomore RHPs Elijah Griffith and Tom Bohman have all thrown innings in the tournament. Cleanup hitter Oliver Cush has eight hits, six RBIs and has scored five runs in the tourney, including two runs against Orange. New Albany scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth and four in the seventh to shock Watkins Memorial 7-6 in the district semifinals before overcoming a 2-0 deficit to beat 2018 state champ Olentangy Liberty 5-2 in the district finals. New Albany then knocked off Lancaster 4-2 in the regional semis. Brock Tibbets, a senior catcher committed to Indiana, Caden Robinson, a junior first baseman going to Memphis, AC Clouse, a senior third baseman headed to Adrian College, and junior leadoff hitter Andrew Ecleberry are among the standouts for the Eagles, which have won eight straight. 
TOLEDO ST. JOHN’S: The sixth inning proved big in helping Toledo St. John’s advance to the state tournament for the first time in school history. The Titans, rated 14th in the state by Prep Baseball Report, tallied three runs in the last of the sixth to defeat Berea-Midpark 4-3 in the regional finals a day after tallying four in the bottom of the sixth in a 6-3 come-from-behind victory over Bowling Green. Carson Toth had a two-run single against Midpark and Trey Lake a bases-clearing hit versus BG. Jacob Davis has won three tournament games for St. John’s with junior left-hander Reece Majors the number two hurler for first-year head coach Sam Fischer, whose squad dominated prior to regionals with 11-1, 10-0 and 10-1 victories. Sophomore JP Wagner and senior Ryan Snyder are key run-producers for the Titans.
CINCINNATI ELDER: A familiar program is back at the state tournament with Elder making its 21st Final Four appearance, tying Coldwater for most ever. The Panthers, which last advanced to state in 2010, has won 12 championships, three more than any other school in history. Pitching has keyed the Panthers, which have permitted just four runs in five tournament contests. Elder defeated St. Xavier 7-2 in the regional semifinals before a 4-0 eight-inning blanking of Vandalia-Butler behind the five-hit pitching of junior Kellen Sandhas to avenge an earlier-season defeat. Elder had also lost two of three to St. X prior to the regional semis. Jackson Grimmelsman has won three tournament games on the mound while Sandhas, a southpaw like Grimmelsman, has thrown a pair of shutouts. Catcher Brennan Martin and Grimmelsman, a pair of seniors committed to Thomas More, have been hitting leaders for Elder, the 18th-ranked team in the state by OHSBCA and 21st by Prep Baseball Report. Sophomore third baseman Luke Vaughn, junior right fielder Chris Kammerer, junior shortstop Jeremy Ward and senior first baseman Jackson Gutzwiller, a Spalding University recruit, have been other major producers for head coach Mark Thompson, who notched his 600th win in the district finals.
Division II
By Dylan Hefflinger, Prep Baseball Report
BLOOM-CARROLL: The Bulldogs, which held a 19-game winning streak this season, look to continue a trend of winning state semifinal games in their fourth trip to state. A 2014 state champion, Bloom-Carroll also won opening-round games at state in 1974 and 2013. Getting to Akron had its difficult moments for the ’Dogs, which got out of a first-and-third one-out crisis in the seventh inning with a 4-6-3 double play to advance to regionals with a 4-3 win over St. Francis DeSales. The state’s ninth-ranked team by PBR and 15th by the OHSBCA then escaped a two-out and two-on situation in the seventh to edge Cambridge 3-2 in the regional semis before a 9-0 shutout of Hillsboro behind the three-hit pitching of junior LHP Logan Moore. Leadoff hitter CJ Carmichael, a junior Penn State commit, and senior outfielder Nic Feasel, a Frontier CC recruit, are the top hitters with senior Josh Moore and Feasel the top pitchers. 
HAMILTON BADIN: No team has been as dominant in the postseason as Badin with wins by scores of 10-1, 17-1, 11-1 5-0 and 12-3. It has the Rams at state for the 13th time, the most recent in 2016 when Badin finished as runners-up for the sixth time. There have been two titles along the way, 1996 and 1991. 
Ryan Kirkendall, a Washington University (Mo) commit, threw a one-hit shutout at Wyoming in the regional finals after tossing a two-hitter in the district finals with Valley View. Sophomore RHP Nik Copenhaver hurled a one-hitter against New Richmond with senior Luke McLaughlin, an IU Southeast recruit, the winning pitcher against Highland in the regional finals in relief of Copenhaver. The top three in the batting order have stood out in the tournament with Lucas Moore, AJ Enginger and Sergio DeCello a combined 26-48 with 26 runs scored and 24 RBIs for the second-rated team in the state by PBR and third by the OHSBCA. Moore is a sophomore committed to Kentucky, Engineer a senior going to Thomas More and DeCello a senior headed to Charleston Southern. Junior Penn State commit Jimmy Nugent and juniors Landyn Vidourek, Cooper Fiehrer and Brady Imhoff add to the Badin production.
AKRON HOBAN: A five-game losing streak had some concerns at Hoban but a 14 wins in a row have followed putting the Knights at state for the fifth time in school history after winning arguably the toughest regional in the state with a 4-2 victory over Chagrin Falls and a 4-1 eight-inning win over Salem, the third and fourth-rated team in the state by PBR. The pitching has stood out in the tournament led by the trio of Shawn Parnell, Dylan Snyder and Noah LaFine. Caleb Kepler adds depth to a staff that has given up five runs in five tournament games played behind Parnell, a junior Cincinnati recruit, Snyder, a senior going to Baldwin-Wallace and LaFine, a freshman committed to Vanderbilt. Seniors Alex Givens (Findlay commit), Dylan Feltovich (John Carroll commit) and Thomas Crowe along with junior Nolan Homgren are leaders at the plate with freshmen outfielders Mike Ciavolella and Parker Falkenstein major contributors for PBR’s 22nd-ranked D-II team. Hoban has never won a state title.

VERMILION: After reaching the 2019 regional finals, the 2021 Vermilion squad has become the first at the school to make it to state following a 17-14 win over Firelands. Ethan Hendrickson had a home run, two doubles and five RBIs in the eighth consecutive victory by the Sailors. Jacob Krausher, a senior committed to Akron, threw a five-hit shutout in a 5-0 win over Tiffin Columbian in the regional semis. The 13th-ranked team in D-II by both PBR and OHSBCA beat Sandusky Bay Conference foes Sandusky, Perkins and Bellevue to make it to regionals for just the fourth time in school history. Nick Werth, Cody Shultz, Jack Wells (Akron commit), Ethan Hendrickson and Carter Klausing (Tiffin commit) are among the leaders for Vermilion.
Division III
By Bruce Hefflinger, Prep Baseball Report
ARCHBOLD: Dick Selgo’s Blue Streaks are hot at the right time and now headed to state for the second time in school history, the other ending in a state championship in 2005. D.J. Newman had three hits in the district finals and four in the regional semifinals while also picking up a pair of tournament wins on the mound for Archbold, which has won 20 or more games in six of the last seven seasons. In the regional championship 8-3 win over Liberty Union, sophomore center fielder Krayton Kern had a single, double and triple. Freshman Jayden Seiler was the beneficiary in earning his second tourney victory for Archbold, which was making its fifth consecutive regional appearance. In the regional semis, the Streaks outlasted Milan Edison 3-2 in 11 innings on a sacrifice fly by Brandon Taylor, who participated in the state track meet (finishing second in the 4x200 and 4x400 relays) and did not play in the regional finals. Senior Caleb Hogrefe along with juniors Jaybe Burkle and Gavin Bailey and sophomore Devon Morris have been other major contributors for the 22nd-rated D-III team in the state by Prep Baseball Report, which lost six of seven games in mid-May and had a three-game losing streak in mid-April. Archbold finished fourth in the NWOAL this season and at one point had a 14-10 record. But the Blue Streaks, which lost a 5-4 eight-inning heartbreaker to eventual state champion Coldwater in the regional finals in 2019, are on a roll with eight wins in their last nine games.
CANTON CENTRAL CATHOLIC: The three-time state champions (2008, 2011 and 2015) are back in Akron for the second consecutive Final Four after a trio of come-from-behind tournament wins, the last a 6-4 victory over South Range in the regional finals. Eric Baum, who drove in the tying run and eventually scored to cap off a three-run bottom of the sixth, had three singles in helping the Crusaders eliminate South Range for the second straight tournament. A day earlier, Baum singled in Ethan Lyke in the top of the seventh to rally Central Catholic past Burton-Berkshire, 4-3. Baum, a Malone University commit, did not allow an earned run in the complete-game win. But the biggest comeback of the tournament for the state’s fourth-ranked D-III team by Prep Baseball Report and seventh-rated by the OHSBCA came in the district finals when the Crusaders scored three runs in the last of the seventh to defeat Elyria Catholic, 3-2. Lyke, the nine-hole hitter, had the game-winning single with two outs to plate Dylan Rouse. Junior southpaw Gerry Johnson picked up wins against Elyria Catholic and South Range in relief of Christian Harris, a senior left-hander committed to Kenyon College who leads the Crusaders in hitting at .471.
CINCINNATI HILLS CHRISTIAN ACADEMY: A five-run second inning powered the Eagles past Cincinnati Country Day in the rubber match between the Miami Valley Conference rivals and with it a fourth regional title. The 12th-ranked team in D-III by Prep Baseball Report is junior-laden with outfielder Alex Moffitt, a Miami (Ohio)-Hamilton recruit, the lone senior contributor. Junior RHPs Colin Ames, Cooper Robinson and Will Murphy along with lefty Brice Laudick lead a deep pitching staff for the Eagles, which are in search of their first state championship. The only state tourney win came in 2014 with a 3-0 victory over Orrville in the semifinals, but CHCA lost to Coldwater 4-2 in the finals. CHCA topped Springfield Shawnee 5-2 in the regional semis after rallying for one run in the last of the sixth and seventh innings to beat Brooksville 3-2 in the district title game. Juniors Jack Vogele and Caden Crawford have been hitting leaders along with Johnathan Russell and Robinson.
BARNESVILLE:  A record-setting year finds Barnesville in the state tournament for just the second time in school history, the other coming in 2004 when the Shamrocks lost to New Albany 9-2 in the D-III state semifinals. It was far from easy at regionals with the Shamrocks scoring twice in the bottom of the 12th to rally by Fredericktown 3-2 in the semifinals on a bases-loaded one-out single by Logan Shepherd. That broke the school record for wins in a season with 23. The Shamrocks, ranked 17th by the OHSBCA and 24th by PBR, then used a six-run fourth to beat Minford 10-7 in the finals highlighted by two-run hits from senior Jake Edwards and junior Gavin Carpenter. Barnesville, winners of eight in a row, avenged two regular-season losses to Martins Ferry 6-3 in the district finals after scoring two in the sixth to stun top-seed Tuscarawas Valley 2-1 in the semis.   
Division IV
By Dylan Hefflinger, Prep Baseball Report
WARREN JFK: An 11-man roster has not hurt the Eagles’ first regional championship that included a 10-2 victory over Columbia Station Columbia and 7-2 win over Tiffin Calvert. Junior Gavin Schrum fired 4.2 innings of no-hit relief and Cam Hollobaugh, a senior committed to Walsh, hit a two-run homer in the regional title game. Hollobaugh tossed one-hit shutouts at Heartland Christian in the district finals and Lowellville in the sectional final. Freshman Jaden Rishel threw a three-hitter at David Anderson in the district semis and had three hits and four RBIs in the district finals. Junior Alex DeSalvo and freshman Caleb Hadley are other key contributors for first-year head coach James Ciambotti.
FORT LORAMIE: The Redskins are two wins away for winning a fourth state title in the past 15 years. It took a third win this season over Russia to do it, a 7-1 victory in the regional finals thanks to 4.1 innings of one-hit shutout relief by southpaw Derek Meyer. Caeleb Meyer, who shut out Fairlawn in the sectional finals and Bradford in the district semis, threw a five-hitter in a 9-1 win over Cedarville in the regional opener for the top-rated PBR team, ranked sixth by the OHSBCA. Seniors Darren Hoying (WSU-Lake commit), Jake Sanders (Mt. St. Joseph’s commit) and Mack Fortman are among the top hitters.
LUCASVILLE VALLEY: A 44-year drought has ended for Lucasville Valley, back at state for the first time since 1977. It took a 5-2 victory over Berlin Hiland to make it happen for the Indians, ranked 18th by OHSBCA and 33rd by PBR. Senior shortstop Andrew Andronis along with sophomore Hunter Edwards and senior Breckon Williams lead the hitting while sophomore George Arnett has given up just one run in 23 innings on the mound in tournament action for the Indians out of the Southern Ohio Conference. Sophomore Carter Nickel brings depth to the pitching staff. This will mark the fifth time to state for Lucasville Valley, which won it all in 1975 and finished second in 1965 and 1966.
LINCOLNVIEW: A solid one-two pitching combo has helped the Lancers make it back to the state tournament. The last time Lincolnview advanced this far was 1974, but a 7-2 win over Antwerp and 5-0 blanking of Leipsic at regionals has the Lancers two wins away from a second state title, the other coming in 1964. Lincolnview, ranked fourth by PBR and sixth by the OHSBCA, has given up just 13 hits while fanning 68 in tourney play behind junior left-hander Landon Price, an Ohio State commit, and senior RHP Collin Overholt. The two combined to strike out 20 in a 1-0 11-inning win over St. Henry in the district finals. Sophomore Dane Ebel has eight RBIs in tourney play for Eric Fishpaw’s squad, with juniors Cole Binkley and Carson Fox and sophomore Brandon Renner others that have produced well for Lincolnview, which has tied a school record for wins in a season.

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