Sun June 3, 2012
By Dylan Hefflinger
COLUMBUS- Columbus St. Francis DeSales came into the season with one goal in mind, to repeat as state champions. That goal was accomplished on Saturday afternoon at Huntington Park as No. 5 DeSales won a 3-2 thriller over No. 6 Wapakoneta in the Division II state finals.
The Stallions jumped out on top early, scoring one in the 1st. After a dazzling catch by junior centerfielder Johnny Crawford, Ohio Weslyan recruit Jack Miller ripped a single up the middle. Eastern Kentucky recruit TJ Alas followed with a single, putting runners at first and second. A passed ball moves both runners up a base, before Lake Erie recruit Zak DeCamp walked to load the bases. After a strike out, senior Derek Traini walked pushing across the first run of the game off Wapak sophomore Chace Culver.
DeSales added two runs in the 4th. Senior Dominic Delmonte led off the frame with a single, went to second on a sacrifice bunt by senior Brennan Schlabig and, after a ground out, Miller brought Delmonte home on an RBI single up the middle. Alas hit an opposite-field double to left to put runners on second and third and an error by the Redskins third baseman allowed Miller to score to put the Stallions up 3-0.
Wapak clawed back with a run in the bottom of the frame. A lead-off walk to talented junior shortstop Josh Apple was followed by a long double to right by Crawford putting two on with nobody out. After a strikeout, sophomore Chandler Kaeck brought home Apple with a sacrifice fly to center to cut the deficit to 3-1.
A lead-off double by Apple in the 6th inning put the Redskins back in business. Apple moved to third on a ground out to first and scored on a sacrifice fly by junior Brandon Miller cut the deficit to 3-2. After two consecutive walks to Kaeck and junior catcher Brandon Schrieber, Stallions' ace Nick Eltzroth, an Ohio Northern recruit, came in relief of starter TJ Alas.
Eltzroth, who was the winning pitcher in the state semifinals, saw four batters, striking out two for the save. The righty was in the 86-89 mph range on the fastball, throwing 12 of his 16 pitches for strikes including an 87 mph fastball for a strikeout on a 3-2 pitch to end the game with Apple on deck. With Apple, who had four hits and a walk and a sacrifice bunt in seven plate appearances at state, on deck.
Alas finished going 5 2/3 innings allowing two runs on three hits and three walks, while striking out five. Alas' fastball was in the upper-70s touching 80 a few times.
Culver, Wapak's talented sophomore hurler who beat top-ranked No. 1 Defiance in the regional finals, was the tough-luck loser going five innings allowing three runs, two earned. Culver walked three and struck out three, throwing 66 of his 105 pitches for strikes. Culver threw in the low-80s topping out at 85. Culver also featured a curve in the upper-60s and a change in the mid-60s.
DeSales (28-6), which graduates 12 seniors, captured its third state championship, with this being its seventh appearance at state. Head coach Tom Neubert is in his fifth year at DeSales and has a record of 117-36 with two state championships.
This marked Wapakoneta's first appearance at state. The Redskins and head coach Jason Brandt finish the season with a 25-6 record and, like DeSales a year ago, feature no seniors on the team making the Western Buckeye League squad one of the favorites heading into next season.