Division III Team Of The Week: Week 4 - Minford


Bruce Hefflinger
PBR Ohio Senior Writer

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Division III Team Of The Week: Week 4 - Minford

MINFORD - Seven shutouts is a good way to assure winning ways.

That is what the Minford pitching staff has produced thus far en route to a 17-2 record and the honor of being the Prep Baseball Report Division III Team of the Week.

“Pitching and defense have stood out,” noted head coach Anthony Knittle, whose squad has a team ERA of 0.827.

This past week the Falcons had a pair of shutouts in huge wins over Wheelersburg and Cabell Midland to go along with an 8-1 victory over Waverly, 10-4 triumph over West and a 6-1 win over Greenup County.

“Cabell Midland was a big win for us,” Knittle said of the 1-0 victory on Saturday. “They’re the biggest school in West Virginia and would be D-I in Ohio. That was big.

“And of course to sweep Wheelersburg with that program was also big for us,” added Knittle, whose team defeated the state’s 19th-rated D-III team in Ohio 2-0 on Friday after winning over Wheelersburg 6-2 back on April 8. “And Waverly is up to D-II now and been ranked.”

Making the accomplishments more impressive is that seven of the nine starters for Minford are freshmen or sophomores.

But it is senior Elijah Vogelsong who is the leader of this year’s Falcons. The Marshall commit, a left-hander who was the winning pitcher in two victories each over Wheelersburg and Waverly this year, is 6-0 with a 0.58 ERA, striking out 47 in 36 innings. The 10th-ranked senior outfielder in Ohio is also batting .350 with a slugging percentage of .660, producing 14 runs with one home run, 17 RBIs and 12 stolen bases.

Sophomore Noah Martin has thrown 35 innings with a 5-1 record, 29 Ks and a 1.20 ERA while another 10th grader, Cole Borland, is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 17.2 innings of work. Levi Coriell, a 6-4 junior, has tossed 16.1 innings with 17 strikeouts and a 2-0 record with a 0,86 ERA.

Senior Matthew Risner, the catcher with a .473 batting average, 19 runs, 13 RBIs and 22 stolen bases (13 away from tying the school record), has been a key to the offense in the nine-hole while adding depth to the pitching staff with a 1.10 ERA in 12 innings on the hill.

Freshman Grant Wheeler bats leadoff and is averaging .333 with a .413 on-base percentage. The second baseman has scored 21 runs with 10 RBIs.

Sophomore shortstop Adam Crank bats second and is hitting .419 with 16 RBIs, 14 runs and 15 base swipes for a team that is 95-102 on stolen bases this season. 

Additional help comes from sophomore third baseman Aiden Queen, a move-in last year from Florida who is batting .330 with 15 runs, 10 RBIs and 15 stolen bases.

“I knew how talented our underclassmen were and thought we could win the conference and make a tournament run,” Knittle said. “Even with just two kids out of the whole team that had varsity experience, I knew they had it in them. They work extremely hard, they’re baseball kids and they compete hard. A lot of them want to  play in college. Hopefully, we’ll compete for a state championship sometime.”

With a rematch against Jackson ahead next week, the third-year head coach looks forward to the rest of this season.

“Pitching and defense are the key,” Knittle. “Offensively, if we can get a few more guys hitting it well that will really help. Right now six are solid, but we want to get a few more. They’re capable.

“With these kids, the sky's the limit,” concluded Knittle. “We can go as far as they want to go.”

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