2018 OHSAA State Final Four Preview: Division II


Dylan Hefflinger
PBR Ohio Editor In Chief/Scout

Follow @PBR Ohio

Ohio Spring baseball always seems to fly by and in 2018 that is most definitely evident with the fact we are in Columbus at beautiful Huntington Park for the State Final Four. That means the four best teams in each division will battle it out to see who is the champion.

Below we have the Division II Final Four Preview.

To view the other divisions State Final Four Previews, click below:
+ Division I
+ Division II
+ Division III
+ Division IV

To view the Regional Previews from last week, click below:
+ Division I
+ Division II
+ Division III
+ Division IV

To view the Final Team Rankings, click below:
+ Division I
+ Division II
+ Division III
+ Division IV

To view the 2018 Preseason All-State Selections, click below:
+ Division I
+ Division II
+ Division III
+ Division IV

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To view all things related to the 2018 Spring High School Baseball Season, including the Scout Blog, Team Power Rankings, Preseason All-State Teams and more, click here.

2018 OHSAA State Final Four Preview: Division II

Team Rankings based on the Final Team Rankings 

Division Overview: What an impressive field of teams in this year's Final Four. No. 2 Tallmadge is back to try and defend its state championship from a year ago while No. 3 Chaminade Julienne, which lost to Tallmadge 4-0 in the 2017 finals, is looking for revenge. Then there is Wapakoneta, which has the best record in the entire 16-team field at state this year and is rated number one. Red-hot Circleville completes Division II, with the Tigers winners of 15 of their last 18.

For Fun Prediction: Again here in Division II, I am going to have to copy/paste what the fan vote showed. I ranked Tallmadge near the top all season, with a #1 ranking in the preseason and I am not going to go away from them now in the semifinal, despite going up against one of the top teams in the state in CJ, who is looking for revenge and will be throwing their ace vs Tallmadge this year unlike last year. Circleville knocked out a perennial power so you can't overlook them at all, but I have seen Wapak play numerous time and their offense is fun to watch. If Wapak were 100% healthy on the mound I would be pretty confident in my pick, with them being banged up on the mound, this is as wide open a D-II as there is as all four have a chance to raise the trophy in 2018.

Dylan Hefflinger:

  • #1 Wapakoneta over Circleville
  • #2 Tallmadge over #3 Chaminade Julienne
    • #1 Wapakoneta over #2 Tallmadge

Fan Vote:

  • #1 Wapakoneta over Circleville
  • #2 Tallmadge over #3 Chaminade Julienne
    • #1 Wapakoneta over #2 Tallmadge

Final Four Schedule

  • #1 Wapakoneta vs Circleville - Friday 4 PM
  • #2 Tallmadge vs #3 Chaminade Julienne - Friday 7 PM

Regional Recap

To view the Scout Blog from the regionals, click here.

  • #1 Wapakoneta 11, #6 Ontario 5
  • Circleville 9, #14 Steubenville 4
  • #2 Tallmadge 17, #9 Canfield 0
  • #3 Chaminade Julienne 5, #5 CHCA 4

Team Overview

#1 WAPAKONETA

Record: 21-1
Coach: Jason Brandt (284-128, 16 years)
Final Ranking: No. 1
Preseason Ranking: No. 2
Highest Ranking: No. 1 - Week 2

Postseason History:

  • State runner-up in 2012

Fun Facts:

  • Highest team batting average in school history
  • Multiple players with or nearing single-season records.

Team Stats:

  • .378 AVG, 45 2B, 6 3B, 8 HR, 236 Runs
  • 1.07 ERA, 217 K

Top Players: (For full stats, visit here)

  • Don Goodes - CF - 51-86, .593 AVG, 14 2B, 6 3B, 2 HR, 36 R, 30 RBIs, 15 BB, 16 SB | 10.2 IP, 1.31 ERA, 21 K - VMI Commit
  • Manny Vorhees - 2B - 32-75, .427 AVG, 13 2B, 2 HR, 35 R, 20 RBIs, 17 BB, 20 SB | 33 IP, 4-0, 0.85 ERA, 56 K - ODU Commit
  • Joel Roediger - RHP/DH - 5-0, 0.00 ERA, 59 K | 22-54, .407 AVG, 2 2B, 19 R, 9 RBIs, 11 BB - ODU Commit
  • Gage Schenk - P - 41.2 IP, 8-0, 0.84 ERA, 61 K | 17-50, .340 AVG, 1 2B, 13 R, 12 RBIs
  • Wyatt Moyler - 3B - 21-66, .318 AVG, 3 2B, 21 R, 19 RBIs, 15 BB
  • Mitch Apple - SS - 29-73, .397 AVG, 2 2B, 3 HR, 21 R, 30 RBIs, 12 BB, 11 SB
  • Bubba Miller - RF - 14-57, .246 AVG, 2 2B, 14 R, 17 RBIs, 19 BB
  • AJ Campos - LF - 13-47, .277 AVG, 3 2B, 15 R, 13 RBIs
  • Jett Makar - C - 18-50, .360 AVG, 3 2B, 1 HR, 19 R, 18 RBIs, 11 BB
  • Brady Erb - 1B - .400 AVG, 10 BB | 22.1 IP, 1.88 ERA, 28 K

Coach's Thoughts:

PBR: What do you and your team do this off season and regular season to prepare yourselves for this point?
Coach: We usually start in the fall with open fields 2x per week, but this year was a bit different. We were unable to be on our field due to the renovation of the entire infield. Our kids made due by working in the cages and throwing. During the winter we were able to have open cages and throwing 2x per week. Our school built a brand new Wrestling facility, so we were able to use our upper gym and cages right after school and had no interference. 

PBR: What are a couple of things you like about your team right now?
Coach: I have said it before and I will say it again, this team has resiliency. They do not let anything bother them, they keep a level head and they like to have fun. When those things are going it makes it fun being their coach. 

PBR: Talk about the feeling when your team won regionals?
Coach: In 2010 we thought we had a good chance against Defiance in the regional finals and it was pure heartbreak when we got beat. In 2012 when we beat Defiance it was pure joy, when the final out was made on Sunday, I think relief was the big feeling. These kids battled all day long in 90+ degree heat, were down early, came back had a 2 run lead in the 7th lost it and then scored 6 in the 8th. I loved seeing all the pictures of the kids and their emotions especially the Dogpile. 

PBR: Thoughts about being able to play in the state final four with a chance at winning a state championship?
Coach: It is every programs dream to be playing at Huntington Park the first week of June. Most of these kids were in the stands in 2012 and got to see first hand the atmosphere of being there. It is an experience that no one should take for granted.  

PBR: Thoughts on the four-team field at the state?
Coach: Very talented. Tallmadge - the defending champs, what more needs to be said. Very loaded from top to bottom of their lineup. Played maybe one of if not the hardest schedules in Ohio. CJ - Defending state runners up, a very talented group of players who do it the right way.  Circleville - From what I have gathered, they have pitching depth and one of the top catchers in the state of Ohio. All 4 teams are very deserving of being here and are definitely talented or it wouldnt be the case. I think it is amazing that the State Finalist from last year have made it back again this year. That just speaks highly of how well they have played and how talented they are.  It will definitely be fun. 

PBR: Anything else you would like to add?
Coach: Just a couple of interesting facets from our 2012 state team and this years team. Our starting shortstop in 2012 was Josh Apple and our starting SS this year is Mitch Apple his brother. Our starting left fielder in 2012 was Dom Campos and this year our starting LF is AJ Campos his brother. I also think its pretty cool that two of my college teammates are also coaching a team here in the state tournament: Curt Bly - Mason and Chad Yoder - Hicksville.

Circleville

Record: 19-10
Head Coach: Brian Bigam (96-44)
Final Ranking: Unranked
Preseason Ranking: Unranked
Highest Ranking: Never ranked

Postseason History:

  • 1st regional title in school history
  • District title - 1962, 1981, 1998, 2008, 2018

Fun Facts:

  • First trip to state in school history
  • First team to qualify for state in baseball from Pickaway County

Team Stats:

  • .311 AVG, 61 2B, 11 3B, 2 HR, 189 Runs
  • 2.29 ERA, 164 K

Top Players: (For full stats, visit here)

  • Andrew Barnhart, SS/P, 2018
  • Brad Henry, LF, 2018
  • Garret Gray, C/P, 2019 - Butler commit
  • Jake Mancini, 1B/P, 2018
  • John Burns, DH, 2018
  • Seth Risner, RF, 2018
  • Ethan Wolfe, 3B/SS/P, 2019
  • Cory Cline, 2B/1B, 2018
  • Garrott Kennedy, 2B/3B, 2019
  • Mason Downs, CF, 2018

Coach's Thoughts:

PBR: What do you and your team do this off season and regular season to prepare yourselves for this point?
Coach: My players have been on a lifting program and participating in 4-man workouts since labor day (4 days a week)…There has also been a process to change the culture and mindset of my players...It took us awhile to understand what it took to become champions…We started the season 4-8 and have now won 15 of our last 17 games…The change in culture and change in mindset has been the biggest key to our success

PBR: What are a couple of things you like about your team right now?
Coach: We are gritty…we are having fun… My pitching staff – Team era of 2.29… Have come from behind wins in 3 of our tournament games…I like how we are embracing the moment and enjoying it at the same time.

PBR: Talk about the feeling when your team won regionals?
Coach: We became the first team in school and county history to win a regional title…It was a wonderful feeling…My favorite part was how our community has embraced us…Circleville is my hometown and to see the community come together and support these boys is by far the most satisfying part of our journey so far

PBR: Thoughts about being able to play in the state final four with a chance at winning a state championship?
Coach: We don’t want to be satisfied with a regional championship…No circleville team has ever won a state title…We look at state as a 2 game tournament…We will take it one game at a time, one pitch at a time

PBR: Thoughts on the four-team field at the state?
Coach: Two of the three other teams were at state last year…Obviously if you are playing at the state level, you are a high quality team…Wapakoneta is very solid – great pitching staff, great hitters and play the game the right way…I do not know much about the teams on the other side of the bracket…We will embrace the challenge and most of all, enjoy the challenge

 

#2 Tallmadge

Record: 17-11
Coach: Kenny Linn
Final Ranking: No. 2
Preseason Ranking: No. 1
Highest Ranking: No. 1 - Preseason

Postseason History:

  • State Champion 2002 and 2017

Team Stats:

  • Updated stats will be online soon

Top Players: (Stats from regionals - updated coming soon)

Coach's Thoughts:

PBR: What do you and your team do this off season and regular season to prepare yourselves for this point?
Coach: We have a lot of multiple-sport players. We had a lot of football success and we had a great year in basketball. There's something to be said about competing. We tell them not to mess up an opportunity to play in high school. .. Another thing was our schedule. We went over the top with our scheduled. We played four top 25 teams that were nationally ranked at one point. We want to challenge our kids, that's something we believe in. We did that this year more than ever.

PBR: What has been the most memorable part about your tournament ride to date?
Coach: Our district championship against Louisville, they had 22 wins, and we won 1-0. Our defense has played very well for two years and we played an outstanding game. Our signature is great pitching, but all three of our pitchers trust the defense behind them. They play very well together and our catcher has been outstanding for two years.

PBR: What are a couple of things you like about your team right now?
Coach: Not only do we have five guys with 100-plus varsity starts that are going back-to-back to Columbus, but they all care for each other. That flows right onto the field.

PBR: Talk about the feeling when your team won regionals?
Coach: We beat Canfield 3-2 last year in the regional finals, so the last thing we thought about was to win going away. Coming into the season we felt we had the best team in the region if we played our best baseball, which is the way it worked out. I think it surprised everybody the score and the way it happened. I was pleasantly surprised.

PBR: Thoughts about being able to play in the state final four with a chance at winning a state championship?
Coach: We have a pretty tough task on our hands. We had a good game with them (Chaminade Julienne) last year. If we can get that done, then we'll talk about (winning state) on Saturday. It's something we've definitely talked about but for the most part we talk about enjoying going out there each and every day and getting better. We know if we play good baseball we've got a good shot.

PBR: Thoughts on the four-team field at the state?

Coach: Chaminade didn't lose many from last year, Wapak has not lost many the last two years and we've been following them. And Circleville's got to be good if they beat Steubenville. It's going to be a challenge. All the teams are good.

PBR: Anything else you would like to add?
Coach: No disrespect to football and basketball, but this has been a baseball community from way before I was here. We're excited to get to represent it.

#3 Chaminade Julienne

Record: 20-5
Coach: Mike Barhorst (123-111)
Final Ranking: No. 3
Preseason Ranking: No. 6
Highest Ranking: No. 3 - Final

Postseason History: 

  • 1970 State Champs
  • 1975 and 2017 State runner-up
  • 3rd District Championship in 5 years. (2014, 2017, 2018)

Team Stats:

  • .306 AVG, 30 2B, 7 3B, 3 HR 190 Runs
  • 2.15 ERA, 181 K

Top Players: (For full stats, visit here)

  • Andrew Simones, CF, Junior - 29-81, .358 AVG, 28 R, 17 RBIs, 23 SB | 17.2 IP, 2-0, 1.98 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 11 K
  • Ryan Peltier, P/SS, Senior - 30-81, .370 AVG, 7 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 23 R, 26 RBIs, 17 SB | 50.1 IP, 6-2, 2.36 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 70 K
  • Nick Wissman, P/2B/SS, Junior - 22-67, .328 AVG, 2 2B, 19 R, 23 RBIs, 15 SB | 38.2 IP, 6-1, 1 SV, 1.45 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 52 K
  • Sebastian Gongora, P/LF, Sophomore - 25-80, .313 AVG, 4 2B, 1 HR, 19 R, 23 RBIs, 15 SB | 43 IP, 6-1, 1 SV, 1.47 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 34 K
  • AJ Solomon, 2B/LF, Freshman - 18-60, .300 AVG, 4 2B, 1 3B, 21 R, 14 RBIs, 24 SB
  • David Ernst, 1B, Senior - 21-70, .300 AVG, 5 2B, 2 3B, 27 R, 17 RBIs, 10 SB
  • Jack Huffman, DH, Sophomore - 20-57, .351 AVG, 1 3B, 17 R, 14 RBIs
  • Ben Thomas, C, Senior - 15-60, .250 AVG, 5 2B, 1 3B, 13 R, 11 RBIs
  • Cameron Benoit, 3B, Junior - 15-66, .227 AVG, 18 R, 15 SB
  • Joey Greene, RF, Senior
  • Zach Scott, Utility, Senior
  • Elliot Seelig, P, Sophomore

Coach's Thoughts:

PBR: What do you and your team do this off season and regular season to prepare yourselves for this point?
Coach: We prepared ourselves this offseason and during the season by trying to simulate game situations as much as possible, and stressing pitching and defense. We spent considerably more time on our hitting also.

PBR: What has been the most memorable part about your tournament ride to date?
Coach: What I like about our team right now is our confidence and our resilience when things don’t always go as planned.

PBR: What are a couple of things you like about your team right now?
Coach: Winning Regionals was a great feeling. It’s always tough to make it to State, but even harder to do it in back to back seasons. There is a bullseye on you from every other team you face during the season. I’m so proud of how our team met the challenge.

PBR: Talk about the feeling when your team won regionals?
Coach: We beat Canfield 3-2 last year in the regional finals, so the last thing we thought about was to win going away. Coming into the season we felt we had the best team in the region if we played our best baseball, which is the way it worked out. I think it surprised everybody the score and the way it happened. I was pleasantly surprised.

PBR: Thoughts on the four-team field at the state?
Coach: Obviously every team has to be good to make it to this point. We are most familiar with Tallmadge since we lost to them in the State Final last year. We know they are returning most of their championship team this year. Wapakoneta has been very strong and highly ranked all season, and Circleville beat a state finalist from last year to make it here this year.

A Look Back At The 2017 Season:

To view the 2017 Team Previews, click here.

To view the OHSAA Baseball Tournament Roundup, click below.

To view the 2017 All-State Teams, click below.

To view the 2017 Preseason All-State Teams, click below.