2022 ACME State Tournament Recap

Dylan Hefflinger and Bruce Hefflinger
PBR Ohio Editor in Chief/NW Scout and Senior Writer

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2022 ACME State Tournament Recap

ACME has always given schools and communities a chance to play together and build team chemistry toward next spring's campaign. It was no different this summer and in the end the ACME State Tournament featured numerous teams which had success during the 2022 spring season and should be some of the top teams in the state in the 2023 high school campaign.

Defiance, Perrysburg and Coldwater are perennial powers in their respective divisions, Russia just won state this past spring in Division IV, and St. Henry, Napoleon, Van Wert and Indian Lake each compete at a high level year in and year out.

The Champs

In winning ACME state title number 12, Defiance was “just unstoppable and looked like a team on a mission," as new ACME Commish Ben Mauch stated.

Defiance cruised through the tournament, beating Russia (11-0), St. Henry (18-6), and Coldwater (10-0).

Long-time mentor Tom Held was happy with his team's performance, not only in the state tournament but throughout this summer.

“Our guys had a great tournament from the start in the sectionals through the state tourney in St. Henry,” Held said. “It all started with our ‘Big 3’ on the mound. They threw five shutouts, but our offense really shined in St. Henry.”

Playing ACME ball is a major part of the success Defiance has had over the past three decades.

“We have always believed in ACME baseball and will always believe that it has been the most important part of our program the past 23 years,” Held said. “Sometimes ACME doesn’t get a lot of respect, but all you have to look at is the Coldwater baseball program. There aren’t many programs as good as theirs, not only in northwest Ohio but in the state, and to say they haven’t won a State Championship in ACME since 1994 is baffling.

“There are a lot of coaches that would love to keep their kids together in the summer but can’t is something that has always bothered me a little,” Held added. “Our kids play free every summer and we think we give them a pretty good product.”

Big Three On The Mound

Three uncommitted right-handed pitchers in Bradyn Shaw, Aidan Kiessling and David Jimenez, who each sit in the upper-80s and can touch 90 mph, led the way for Defiance this summer

“We have had a lot of great pitchers at Defiance over the past couple decades, but the three we have right now going into the spring of 2023 will rival any of our pitching staffs in coach Weaver and my time here,” Held noted. “These guys compete, throw strikes and get people out. Their stuff, for a nucleus of three coming back, is as good as any we have had.”

Springboard For 2023 Success

Held is adamant about what being part of ACME baseball means to his program.

“What ACME baseball gives you is a simulation of tourney baseball unlike any other sport,” Held explained. “The crowds we play in front of in the summer will rival any crowd we will play in front of in the spring. The ACME state tourney is like playing a regional tourney game in the spring. The pressure of performing is something we can’t simulate anywhere else. 

“They love playing for their community and school,” Held continued. “ACME baseball has been a gift for Defiance baseball. Our program would not be where we are without it. Celebrating with the dudes you grow up with in the back yard is priceless.”

New Look

With that being said, ACME has still looked to continue to improve this summer in regards to exposure, hospitality and more, and first-year ACME commissioner Ben Mauch has done just that.

"This past year ACME Baseball was a huge success,” Mauch pointed out. “Coming onto the ACME Board ascCommissioner I quickly understood where ACME was and where we needed to go. That was the easy part, coming up with a plan of action on how to get from point A to point B was the difficult part. As I do in my professional career we went straight to the owners of ACME Baseball, the coaches, parents and players for advice. We provided a survey and took those results, analyzed them and developed our action plan. It was clear to our organization that we needed to provide exposure for our student athletes.

“We brought Becca Wenning (ACME Rookie of Year) on board to lead this charge. Becca is a self-motivated baseball mom through and through that wants nothing more than for ACME to succeed. Becca also brought her professional background experience to ACME and we have by far exceeded my expectations in year one.

“The social media blitz along the ‘They Picked Me’ #TheyPickedMe campaign has gone viral in the ACME community. We will be going back to the drawing board this fall with lessons learned to develop our action plan for 2023.  I also want to thank our main sponsors in 2022 - Superior Credit Union, BSN Sports, Orthopedic Institute of Ohio, R&A Fields and Community Sports & Therapy Center."

Others were pleased with what took place in the 2022 season.

"Icing on the cake last night,” Mauch said in looking back at the year following the championship game. “As I was walking to my car an elderly lady stopped and said I want to thank you for what you've done. She said her grandson is amazed at the new ACME setup, whatever that meant. I'm putting that in the social media blitz that we've done. That made my night and just confirmed we are on the right path!"

St. Henry A Great Host

Mauch was impressed by what St. Henry provided as the host of the 2022 eight-team state tournament.

"St. Henry just set the bar extremely high for all future hosting sites,” Mauch noted. “Mike Gast and all his volunteers went over and beyond our expectations. I don't think there was a day that went past that Mike and I didn't have a conversation, be it through text, email or phone call, since mid-May. Mike is extremely organized and wanted this tournament to be the best experience for the participating teams that he could give.

“Toby Siefring (ACME Board Member and District 4 Commissioner) also put in a lot of time and effort into being there for Mike to make sure everything was perfect. The ACME Baseball Congress would like to thank Mike and the St. Henry community for a job well done!

“As for the ACME State Tournament as a whole, it was a success. Although rain postponed Sunday, we had three other great days for baseball. The games were extremely competitive and fun to watch. The attendance overall was good which provided a nice atmosphere for each game. We had some many great teams and players participate this year, it was great! At the end of the day, Defiance was just unstoppable and looked like a team on a mission."

Special Family Connections

ACME has always had a family feel but none more than this season with “First Families of ACME” in attendance.

“The Brunswicks, Helds and everyone else that has been a part of not only ACME but baseball in northwest Ohio are amazing,” Mauch said. “I knew most of them over the past 10 to 13 years through umpiring high school baseball, but now I get to interact and pick their brains in other ways. The entire ACME family accepted me into the family from day one and it has been an absolutely amazing experience.

“I had the opportunity to talk with Lou Brunswick and Mel Held this weekend when we honored them during the championship game along with John Post, son of Wally Post. It was a ceremony that I will never forget and will always keep in the back of my mind as I make decisions for ACME Baseball."

2022 All-Tournament Team

Position High School Class Stats
Aidan Kiessling
2023 6 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 BB, 10 K | 6-9, 2B, 3 R, 3 RBI
David Jimenez
Defiance 2023 6 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 3 BB, 5 K | 5-11, 2B, 4 R, 3 RBI, 2 BB, SB
Bradyn Shaw RHP/SS
Defiance 2023 6 IP, 3 ER, 4 H, 3 BB, 6 K | 3-8, 2B, 4 R, RBI, 2 BB, SB
Jackson Walter OF
Defiance 2023 6-10, 2B, HR, 5 R, 5 RBI, BB, SB
Gavino Gomez OF
Defiance 2023 6-9, 2B, 6 R, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 2 SB
AJ Harlamert RHP
2024 7 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 3 BB, 6 K
Evan Harlamert RHP Coldwater 2023 7 IP, 0 R, 5 H, 1 BB, 1 K
Luke Wessell LHP Van Wert 2023 7 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 1 BB, 12 K
Devin Delzeith RHP
St. Henry
 2024 7 IP, 1 R, 0 ER, 7 H, 3 BB, 10 K

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