Prep Baseball Report

2024 OHSAA Tournament: Division IV State Semifinal - No. 27 Hillsdale vs Fort Recovery

Bruce Hefflinger
Prep Baseball Ohio Senior Writer

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2024 OHSAA Tournament: Division IV State Semifinal - No. 27 Hillsdale vs Fort Recovery

AKRON - Fort Recovery, the sixth-place team in the Midwest Athletic Conference, is now one win away from a state championship after riding the pitching of Alex Dues to knock off Hillsdale 3-1 in the Division IV semifinals on Saturday afternoon.

A senior right-hander, Dues scattered six hits, walked two and struck out five in giving head coach Kevin Eyink his 100th coaching victory.

Fort Recovery put the first run of the game on the board in the second on an Alex Gaerke single, an error and a two-out run-scoring single by Reece Evers, then made it 3-0 an inning later. Troy Homan led off with a double and came home on a one-out sac fly by Caden Homan. Gaerke and Caden Grisez then produced singles before an RBI double by Gavin Faller.

The only Hillsdale run off Dues came in the fourth on a single by Jack Fickes after walks to Aiden Hoffman and Byron Bickel.

Owen Hoffman had three singles for the 27th-ranked Falcons, which close out the year at 19-11.

Gaerke and RIggs Tobe had a pair of hits apiece for Fort Recovery, which will take on the winner of Berlin Hiland and Russia in Sunday's 7 p.m. championship game.


PLAYER OF THE GAME: Dues retired the last nine batters he faced in closing out his senior season on the mound at 8-3. Sixty of 93 pitches were strikes for Dues, who only allowed one Hillsdale base runner to get past second place.

THIRD INNING: No inning was bigger than the third. In the top of the frame, the Falcons loaded the bases with one out but Dues wiggled out of the jam with back-to-back strikeouts to keep Hillsdale scoreless in the inning. In the bottom of the third with a runnner on third base, a fly ball to center by Cade Homan was the second out of the inning. A great throw home by Hillsdale center fielder Gavin Casdorf to catcher Braylen Jarvis arrived as Troy Homan was sliding. A ruling of safe not only meant the inning was still going on, but one run was in. Three straight hits followed and a one-run lead had suddenly expanded to three.

HITTING SHOES: Fort Recovery, a team that had a .230 team batting average coming into state, certainly did not look the part pounding out 10 hits. Eight different players had at least one hit for the Indians, including a stretch of six hits in nine batters during the second and third innings. Ironically, the leading hitter on the season, Reece Wendel, who had three hits and scored four runs in one regional game, was the lone Indian without a base knock. And this against a team that had given up one run or less in four of five tournament games, including a 2-1 win over top-ranked Lake Center Christian in the regional semifinals.

WHAT’S NEXT?: Both middle infielders, Brock Bower and Kael Lewis, along with the two corner outfielders, Brady Heller and Aiden Hoffman, are returnees for Hillsdale and head coach Jason Snow, who led the Falcons to their only other state appearance in 2019.


Jeromesville Hillsdale    000  100  0   - 1   6  2
Fort Recovery                 012  000   x  -  3 10  1

Records: Fort Recovery 16-12, Jeromesville Hillsdale 19-11.

Winning Pitcher: Alex Dues (7 innings, 1 run, 6 hits, 5 strikeouts, 2 walks).

Losing Pitcher: Jack Fickes (6 innings, 3 runs, 2 earned runs, 10 hits, 4 strikeouts, 1 walk).

Leading Hitters: (Hillsdale) - Jack Fickes single; Owen Hoffman 3 singles; Brady Heller single; Aiden Hoffman run; Byron Bickel single. (Fort Recovery) - Troy Homan double, run; Caden Homan single, RBI; Alex Gaerke 2 singles, 2 runs; Caden Grisez single; Gavin Faller double, 2 RBIs; Reece Evers single, RBI; Riggs Tobe 2 singles; Alex Dues single.

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