2023 OHSAA Tournament: Division I State Semifinal - No. 1 Moeller vs No. 4 Walsh Jesuit

Bruce Hefflinger
PBR Ohio Senior Writer

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2023 OHSAA Tournament: Division I State Semifinal - No. 1 Moeller vs No. 4 Walsh Jesuit

AKRON - The battle between two of the most prestigious baseball programs in Ohio lived up to the billing in the opening game of the 95th annual Ohio High School State Baseball Tournament. 

In the end, it was the pitching of Moeller that won out in a 2-0 victory over Walsh Jesuit in the Division I state semifinal game.

Toby Hueber pitched five innings of three-hit shutout baseball before Carson Marsh came in for the save, allowing one hit for the top-ranked team in Ohio, making its 13th state appearance in school history.

But the victory did not come without drama in the top of the seventh. After a one-out double down the left-field line by Justin Bremner, Raul Gamez walked. Nine-hole hitter Topher Salek then had a hit taken away by right fielder Conlan Daniel setting the stage for the at-bat of the game.

Alex Covas, who had the only three Walsh Jesuit hits on Thursday going into the seventh, entered the batter’s box with the tying run on first. But Marsh was up to the challenge against the leadoff hitter of the Warriors, inducing a hard-hit grounder up the middle that Moeller shortstop Charlie Niehaus turned into a force out, sending the Crusaders to the state championship game on Saturday at 10 a.m.

Moeller scored the only run Hueber and Marsh would need in the fourth when Nathan Manley ripped a 375-foot shot into the wind in left-center field for a leadoff double and Clay Burdette followed with a first-pitch RBI single through the hole between short and third.

The Crusaders added an unearned run in the fifth when Ethan Sweat opened the frame with a single and went to third on a sac bunt by Carter Christenson that turned into a throwing error. One out later, a Hueber sacrifice fly to center made it 2-0.

Ryan Piech was the hard-luck loser for the fourth-ranked D-I team in Ohio, fanning six, walking two and permitting three hits.


PLAYER OF THE GAME: Hueber shut down a Walsh Jesuit attack that had scored nine or more runs in four of five tournament games, giving up three hits and one free pass while striking out five in his five innings on the mound before Marsh came on for his fourth save of the season. The George Mason commit, who threw 40 of 64 pitches for strikes, added the hard-hit sacrifice fly to center for an insurance run.

BIGGEST PLAY: Perhaps overlooked with all the strong pitching in the game was the play in right field by Daniel for the second out of the seventh. With two on and one away, Salek’s blooper was out of reach of Moeller second baseman Carter Christenson, but Daniel slid in to make the key grab, then nearly doubled off the runner at first base. Had the ball dropped in or even gotten by the Moeller right fielder, it would have put the tying run and perhaps the lead run in scoring position with the top of the Walsh lineup coming up.

CLUTCH: While the Moeller pitchers were throwing blanks, it did not come without getting out of jams on two occasions prior to the seventh. In the top of the first, Walsh put two on with nobody down before Hueber retired three straight. In the fifth, a leadoff walk to Bremner and a two-out single by Covas put runners on second and third following a Covas stolen base. But a called third strike ended the threat a batter later.

WHAT’S NEXT?: Every player that played in the game for Walsh Jesuit was a senior but when it is a program that has been to state eight times since 1999, winning four state titles in that timeframe, it just means reloading for first-year head coach Joe Bowers, whose squad’s only other losses this season were by one run to Massillon Jackson, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (Mich) and Saint Ignatius.


Walsh Jesuit       000  000  0  -  0  4  2
Moeller               000  110   x  -  2  3  0

Records: Moeller 30-3, Walsh Jesuit 26-4-1.

Winning Pitcher: Toby Hueber 5 innings, 0 runs, 3 hits, 5 strikeouts, 1 walk). Other: Carson Marsh (2 innings, 0 runs, 1 hit, 1 strikeout, 1 walk). 

Losing Pitcher: Ryan Piech (6 innings 2 runs, 1 earned run, 3 hits, 6 strikeouts, 2 walks).

Leading Hitters: (Walsh Jesuit) - Alex Covas 3 singles; Justin Bremner double. (Moeller) - Toby Hueber RBI; Nathan Manley triple, run; Clay Burdette single, RBI; Ethan Sweat single, run.

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