2023 OHSAA Tournament: Division IV State Semifinal - No. 4 St. Henry vs No. 5 Russia

Bruce Hefflinger
PBR Ohio Senior Writer

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2023 OHSAA Tournament: Division IV State Semifinal - No. 4 St. Henry vs No. 5 Russia

AKRON - Russia is one win away from a second consecutive Division IV state championship but it did not come easily.

Winning pitcher Xavier Phlipot drove in Jude Counts with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning to break up a scoreless deadlock and give the Raiders a 1-0 win over St. Henry in the semifinals on Thursday.

Counts opened up the frame with a bunt single and advanced to second on a strikeout wild pitch. After St. Henry’s Devin Delzeith fanned his fifth batter of the game, Phlipot ripped the first pitch on a line to right and Counts easily beat the throw home with the game-winning run.

Until that point, Phlipot and Delzeith threw blanks, each giving up four hits and one walk while recording five Ks in complete-game efforts. Delzeith had retired 13 batters in a row before Counts reached base on the perfectly executed bunt between the St. Henry pitcher and third baseman Bryce Brookart.

The only inning Russia had a runner in scoring position was the third frame prior to the eighth while St. Henry had runners in scoring position in both the third and sixth innings.

Logan Link had two of the four hits for St. Henry, the fourth-rated team in the state in D-IV.


PLAYER OF THE GAME: When you have the game-winning hit to go along with throwing an eight-inning shutout the choice is not a hard one. Phlipot, the winning pitcher in last year’s state championship game victory over Lincolnview, only added to his impressive performance the past two years at Canal Park.

BIG INNING: While the game was officially won in the eighth, the sixth frame was the biggest in the game in helping the state’s fifth-rated team reach the championship game for the second consecutive season. An infield single and throwing error put Delzeith on second base with nobody down. Link then lined a single to left field putting runners on the corners with no outs for the Redskins. After a stolen base and foul out, Hayden Boeckman hit a high hopper to second base with the infield in and Brayden Monnin fired a perfect strike to catcher Cooper Unverferth for out number two. A pop out to third then ended the threat.

GOOD BEHIND THE DISH: Unverferth, a freshman backstop for Russia, threw out two potential base stealers in each of the first two innings to slow down a St. Henry offensive attack that features five players with 13 or more stolen bases on the season.

FIELDING YOUR POSITION: Phlipot did more than just pitch and hit in the win. The senior pitcher made nice plays on two bunts, once fielding an attempted sacrifice and throwing to second for an out. There were also two well-executed 3-1 putouts from first baseman Counts to Phlipot.

WHAT’S NEXT?: With six juniors in the starting lineup, the Midwest Athletic Conference champions will definitely be a team to contend with in 2024. In addition to Link at shortstop and Delzeith pitching, Boeckman in center, Drew Schwieterman at first, Lucas Clune at DH and Caden Bergan behind the plate are all back for St. Henry. Boeckman, a left-handed hitting three-hole hitter, was smooth in center highlighted by a nice running catch to deep left-center field to prevent Monnin from a leadoff extra-base hit to open the bottom of the seventh. 


St. Henry       000  000  00  -  0  4  1
Russia           000  000  01  -  1  4  1

Records: Russia 26-6, St. Henry 24-7

Winning Pitcher: Xavier Phlipot (8 innings, 0 runs, 4 hits, 5 strikeouts, 1 walk).

Losing Pitcher: Devin Delzeith (7.2 innings, 1 run, 4 hits, 5 strikeouts, 1 walk).

Leading Hitters: (St. Henry) - Logan Link 2 singles; Bryce Brookhart single; Devin Delzeith single. (Russia) - Xavier Phlipot single, RBI;  Zane Shappie single; Braylon Cordonnier single; Jude Counts single, run.

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