Wed May 23, 2012
By Dylan Hefflinger
No. 15 St. Clairsville (19-6) vs. No. 14 Frankfort Adena (24-5)
St. Clairsville returns to regionals after bowing out in the regionals last season. The Saints defeated Tusky Valley 4-0 behind Sammy Vincenzo's one-hitter, with 15 strikeouts. The Saints have made state two previous times, the last in 1997. Shortstop D.J. Busby, catcher Riley Carlton and third basemen Luke Smith pace the offense.
Adena nipped Minford 1-0 in the district semis, then defeated Portsmouth West 10-1 in the district finals to reach the regionals. Griffen Bowdle is Adena's ace on the mound, while Kirk Yates, co-player of the year in the Scioto Valley Conference, and Auston Hottinger pace the offense. Adena is looking to return to state for the fifth time, the last coming in 2005.
No. 3 Wheelersburg (26-2) vs. No. 17 Piketon (20-8)
Wheelersburg is back at regionals for the fifth straight year and looks to return to state which it has done in three of the last four years, with its best result coming in 2010 as runners-up. The Pirates came from behind to defeat Lynchburg-Clay 6-5, scoring three runs in the final two innings. Wheelersburg is led by Dayton recruit Austin Hall, junior Derek Moore and Austin Boyer, who were all first team all-district.
Piketon is back to regionals for second straight year, looking to reach state for only the second time, the lone trip coming in 1985. Piketon defeated Westfall 5-0 in the district finals. Juniors Zach Farmer and his battery mate Bryan Robinson led Piketon in the victory. Farmer threw a shutout, while Robinson had four RBI including a home run and three-run double
No. 21 Fredericktown (20-4) vs. No. 11 Cincinnati Maderia (24-6)
Fredericktown looks to make it to state for the first time in school history. Fredericktown defeated Columbus Academy in the semis 6-5 before shutting out Galion Northmor 2-0 in the Central 2 district finals. Fredericktown is led by junior Matt Smith. Do-everything Smith leads the Freddies, which finished second to Utica in the Mid-Buckeye Conference this season. The junior center fielder is hitting .531 with 39 RBI and 31 stolen bases. A football standout who has rushed for more than 3,000 career yards and 34 TDs, hit .551 with 10 home runs as a freshman and .592 as a sophomore. More weapons come in the form of junior Nash Cunningham, who has 10 wins this season while hitting .465, and Mitch Sellers, a .476 hitter with 42 stolen bases. Smith is being recruited by the likes of Ohio State, Cincinnati and Central Florida while Cunningham is also a D-I recruit for the Freddies, which won their first district title since 1975.
Cincinnati Maderia looks to return to state for the fifth time in school history. Last season the Mustangs were runners-up to Canton Central Catholic. Maderia won state in 1999. The Mustangs beat No. 8 Cincinnati Country Day 3-2 in nine innings in the semis before defeating Springfield Northwestern 5-2 to capture the Springboro district title. The Mustangs are led by junior lefty Andrew Benintendi (5-10, 170), rated one of the top players in Ohio for the Class of 2013. The Arkansas verbal is a solid 2-shot player and one of the most exciting offensive players in the Midwest high school region, starting last summer on the Midland Redskins Connie Mack championship team. Benintendi is batting .571 with 14 doubles, seven triples, 10 home runs and 47 RBI with 23 stolen bases. Junior outfielder Zach Jansen (5-10, 180) is part of Maderia's offensive wrecking crew, hitting .490 with 15 doubles, nine triples, four home runs and 55 RBI. Griffin Tate is one of the top arms on the mound with a 1.81 ERA in 50 innings, and is followed up by Benintendi who has a 1.94 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 43 innings. The Mustangs also have Nate Bulman who has a 1.33 ERA in 21 innings.
No. 20 Hamilton Badin (20-7) vs. No. 13 Versailles (23-6)
Hamilton Badin and Versailles have reached state a total of 16 times combined. Badin has made it 10 times, including the last three seasons, winning two championships and finishing second five times, while Versailles has reached state six times, the last in 2000.
Badin defeated Waynesville 4-2 in the district semis, before topping No. 7 CHCA 6-1 in the Kings Mills District finals. Badin is led by juniors Austin Rieman and T.J. Nichting at the plate. Rieman has 14 doubles, 17 stolen bases, 27 runs, 30 RBI and a .459 BA. Nichting has 12 doubles, 7 stolen bases, 29 runs and a .457 BA. Other offensive stars include Nick Browning with 18 stolen bases and a .387 BA. Houston Krause, .420 in just 50 at-bats. On the mound, Badin is led by the one-two punch of Mike Davis 7-1, 41 Ks in 55 innings, 1.26 ERA and Cameron Mohr 7-0, 15 Ks in 45 innings, 2.49 ERA.
Versailles run-ruled Middletown Fenwick 14-1 in the district finals. The Tigers are led by first team all Midwest-Athletic Conference seniors Zack Niekamp and Ethan Bruns. Senior shortstop Niekamp (6-1, 180) is a Ohio Northern signee who shows good baseball sense. Senior right-handed Bruns (6-1, 190) is a Sinclair CC signee who displayed a 78-82 mph fastball on the mound with good command. Sophomore third baseman Damien Richard (6-3, 185) is a very athletic player with solid raw skill and a Division I recruit. Power hitting junior first baseman/pitcher.Dominic Richard (6-3, 210) is a mid Division I to solid Division II prospect, who can hit 85 mph with his fastball.
Orrville (18-9) vs. No. 2 Orwell Grand Valley (28-1)
Orrville is in its first regional since 2000 and one of three teams from the Ohio Cardinal Conference in the Sweet 16, joining D-I Ashland and D-II West Holmes. The Red Riders, led by seventh-year head coach Scott Marshall, defeated Norwayne 2-0 in the district semifinals and No. 24 Tuslaw 4-1 in the district final. Junior Trevor Kerr and sophomore Stuart Schley, both right-handers, tossed back-to-back one-hitters. Kerr leads the team with a 6-2 record, 1.34 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 52 1/3 IP and opponents are hitting just .175 against him. Schley has been a steady No. 2 starter with a 4-3 mark, 2.71 ERA and 50 Ks in 49 IP. Alex Samson, a 5-8 165-pound throwback shortstop, has led Orrville to the regionals for the first time since 2000 when his oldest brother Walt was the star of the team. A fourth-year starter and fourth and final brother to play for Orrville, Samson leads the team in batting at .424. Like Samson, fellow four-year starter A.J. Perez is headed to play college ball at Owens Community College. Samson, whose brothers all played baseball at the College of Wooster, also leads the team with 16 stolen bases and a .541 on-base percentage and has a .411 career batting average with 104 total hits. Schley has a team-high 28 runs scored while Kerr is hitting a solid .381. Junior second basemen Kyle Johnston is hitting .376 sophomore catcher J.T. Perez has a .370 BA, 2 home runs and 23 RBI. Orrville's lone state trip came way back in 1976.
Grand Valley has been cruising along all season as Coach Russ Bell's team won the Northeastern Athletic Conference and is batting .439 overall, while posting a 1.95 ERA. The Mustangs edged Warren Champion in the semis and Gates Mills Hawken to win the Euclid District by 5-4 scores. Mitchell Lake is the leader for the Mustangs with a .592 batting average and 24 extra-base hits, including six home runs. Lake is 6-0 on the mound with a 1.28 ERA and 66 Ks in 43 2/3 innings. Other top hitters are Stanley Sirrine (.553), Adam Moodt (.488) and A.J. Henson (.475). Grand Valley is vying for its first state appearance.
No. 16 LaGrange Keystone (20-7) vs. Youngstown Ursuline (18-5)
Ursuline looks to avenge last year's regional loss where Keystone was a 3-0 winner in the regional semis.
Keystone defeated Elyria Catholic 1-0 in the district semis before knocking out Independence 7-1 to repeat as the Parma CCC West district champs as University of Toledo recruit Caleb Schillace notched the victory on the mound with a two-hitter and seven strikeouts. Brandyn Sittinger, a Marshall recruit, is another top arm for Keystone. Sittinger threw a three-hitter in the semis against Elyria Catholic, striking out 7.
Ursuline defeated Girard 3-2 to win the Struthers District. Sam Donko went eight innings against Girard, striking out eight. Tannor Berry had a walk-off RBI single in the eighth. Ursuline has seven previous Final Four trips and two titles. Keystone is vying for its first state appearances.
No. 4 Millbury Lake (24-5) vs. No. 10 Carroll Bloom-Carroll (22-5)
Millbury Lake won the Defiance District after defeating Archbold 10-1 in the semis and nipping Tontogany Otsego 5-4 in the finals. Unsigned senior Josh Tantari, who throws in the low-80s, leads the Flyers on the mound with sophomore Jayce Vancena as another top arm. Vancena is 3-0 on the season with nine saves. Vancena is hitting a team-high .368. Lake, which played on its new field after a tornado wiped out the baseball facility and school, has reached state two times (2001, 1935).
Bloom Carroll cruised in the district semis with a 12-2 victory over Howard East Knox, before beating Marion Pleasant 4-3. Jake Newton leads Bloom Carroll on the mound, throwing in the low-80s. Jarrett Peters is a talented sophomore catcher for Bloom Carroll. The Bulldogs have reached state just once in school history (1974).
No. 23 Milan Edison (18-9) vs. No. 18 Lima Central Catholic (19-8)
It was supposed to be a rebuilding year for LCC with just three starters back from a team that did not get out of districts. It's time to rethink that. The T-Birds, with only three seniors, are at regionals for the first time since 1999. Sophomore shortstop Colin Stolly is hitting .438 with eight doubles while junior catcher Connor Dee is at .410 with eight doubles and 24 RBI. The seniors are third baseman Bill Taflinger (.300), outfielder Kian Duffy (.341, 19 RBI) and Travis Clark (.351). Clark, a Siena Heights recruit, is the top pitcher with a 7-1 record and 2.05 ERA. In 58 innings Clark has 60 strikeouts. Nick Watkins, 5-2 with a 1.10 ERA, was the winning pitcher against Coldwater in the district finals. Outfielder Sam Hoffman is another big stick at .346.
Milan Edison, which stunned top-ranked unbeaten Ontario 9-4 in the district semis, relies on pitcher Adam Wroblewski, who is 8-3 with a 1.22 ERA. The sophomore has three shutouts, with 60 Ks and 24 walks in 69 innings. Matt Ortman leads the way at the plate with a .483 average. Others contributing with the bat include Austin Utter (.322), Trenton Emody (.320), Adam Vartorella (.318) and Alex Bixler (.304).