Ohio Spotlight Game: D-I State final - #1 Massillon Jackson vs #30 Strongsville

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By: Bruce Hefflinger
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Ohio Spotlight Game: D-I State final - #1 Massillon Jackson vs #30 Strongsville

Yanni SkeriotisCOLUMBUS – Top-ranked Massillon Jackson lived up to the billing with an 8-2 win over Strongsville in the Division I state finals Saturday evening at Huntington Park.

The Polar Bears took a 2-0 lead in the third inning and then batted around in the fourth to up the advantage to 5-0.

Josh Romans, Dillon Dingler and Kyle Nicolas all had singles in the third while Davis Graham, Romans and Cade Mottice produced hits in a fourth inning that also included two walks, a hit-by-pitch, a balk and a stolen base against three Strongsville pitchers.

The  Mustangs, which lost to Jackson 4-3 during the regular season, appeared ready to cut into the deficit in the fifth with the bases jammed and one away after a single by Noah Trizzino and walks to Trevor Denning and Mitch Midea. However, Jackson sophomore pitcher Yianni Skeriotis recorded one of five strikeouts before a ground ball ended the potential uprising.

“It’s not about you, it’s about what you can do for the team.” Jackson coach Bill Gamble said after seven different Polar Bears had hits or reached base against the 30th-ranked team.

Jackson added to the advantage with another three-run inning in the fifth, highlighted by a two-run double from Mottice and an RBI double by Dingler.

Strongsville’s lone two runs came in the sixth with Parker Shannon and Jack Frank pounding out singles before a double by Trizzino.

Skeriotis went the distance to pick up the victory, allowing one earned run on six hits, the last a roped single by Kyler Damm in the seventh. But Damm was left stranded with Skeriotis recording a strikeout and grounder to finish off an impressive tournament showing in which the number one team in Ohio outscored the opposition 44-12.

“We challenged them after sectional district week and they responded,” Gamble said. “We were very aggressive and worked hard with each other and responded the way a coach wants. I’m so proud of this group. They bought into our philosophy, our culture and what we do.”

It gave Massillon Jackson title number two in a four-year period.

“We raised the bar (in 2014) and keep trying to get to it,” Gamble said. “We challenged them about it all week.”

The challenge was accepted and mission accomplished.

Hot Takes

Stat of the game: The Polar Bears pounded out 10 hits in the first five innings of action while Strongsville could muster just two in that timeframe. Those numbers usually spell doom for the team on the bad end.

Best team?: Though Jackson lost to D-II champ Tallmadge and D-III runner-up Berlin Hiland during the regular season, the Polar Bears looked like the class of this year’s tournament. Not only did Jackson hit, pitch and field well, but used the small ball to perfection with a pair of bunt singles and three sacrifice bunts in the state final win.

Dillon DinglerPlayer of the game: Dingler is a hitting machine and had a 3-for-3 outing in the state finals with a walk and RBI. In addition, the senior catcher picked off a Strongsville base runner at first in the seventh inning to cap off a performance that drew raves.

Tourney MVP: After going 3-for-4 with an RBI and run scored in the semifinals, Dingler had hits in his first two plate appearances versus Strongsville before an intentional walk. In the fifth, the Ohio State recruit lined a double down the left-field line to complete a 6-for-7 showing in the two state games. His lone out was on a bunt in the fifth inning of the state semifinals..

Notes: With two state championships in the last four years Jackson is challenging Cincinnati Moeller (four crowns in the last nine years) for Division I supremacy in the state. … Jackson is believed to be the fifth school to win a state baseball and boys basketball title in the same school year. The last was Defiance in 2014-15.

What’s next?: Friday’s semifinal pitcher Matt Brosky is back with three other starters for Strongsville. As for Jackson, the infield combo of second baseman Trey Wright and freshman shortstop Josh Romans returns along with Graham in left field and Skeriotis.


Strongsville                000 002 0 - 2   6 1
Massillon Jackson   002 330 x - 8 10 1

Records: Massillon Jackson 30-2, Strongsville 25-9..

Winning Pitcher: Yianni Skeriotis (7 innings, 2 runs, 1 earned, 6 hits, 5 strikeouts,3 walks).

Losing Pitcher: Jaret Beechy (3.2 innings, 5 runs, 4 earned, 8 hits, 1 strikeout, 0 walks). Others: Mitch Midea, Alex Gray, Louis Rehm.

Leading Hitters: (Strongsville) - Parker Shannon single; Jack Frank single; Noah Trizzino 2 singles, double; Kyler Damm triple. (Massillon Jackson) - Cade Mottice single, double, 3 runs; Dillon Dingler 2 singles, double; Jake Mottice single; Kyle Nicolas single; Davis Graham single; Josh Romans 2 singles.