Ohio Spotlight Game: D-IV State Semifinal - #11 Minster vs #1 Toronto

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By: Bruce Hefflinger
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Ohio Spotlight Game: D-IV State Semifinal - #11 Minster vs #1 Toronto

COLUMBUS – Three unearned runs in the top of the first inning was all Minster and Aaron Ernst needed in a 3-0 blanking of top-ranked Toronto in the Division IV state semifinal game on Friday morning.

Ernst, featuring a nasty curveball, fanned seven and walked three in the six-hit victory against a Toronto team that featured five hitters batting .418 or better..

The Minster senior took the mound with the lead in the first after Isaac Schmiesing led off the top of the frame with a single and Jon Niemeyer doubled off Toronto hurler Danny Zdinak. After a pair of strikeouts, an intentional walk loaded the bases. Zdinak appeared to get out of the jam with a fly ball to right, but a misplay cleared the bases for what turned out to be the lone runs of the game.

Ernst struck out four of the first six batters he faced before getting out of trouble in each of the next two innings when the Red Knights left five on base.

The senior right-hander settled down to retire 10 of the final 12 batters, permitting just one hit and one walk over the final three frames.

Zdinak, after allowing the three unearned runs in the first, kept the Red Knights in the game getting out of a bases-loaded situation in the second against the 11th-ranked Wildcats.

Hot Takes

Stat of the game: Toronto had eight hits and walked three times but could not come up with the clutch hit, leaving eight on base - all between the second and sixth innings.

Biggest play: With one on and no outs, Toronto hit a fly ball to short right field in the bottom of the fourth. Minster’s Jon Niemeyer made the catch then doubled up the runner at first on a close play. The Red Knights followed with two hits and a walk before Ernst escaped with a strikeout on a 3-2 pitch with the bases full.

Strong in defeat: Zdinak got stronger as the game went on, permitting just three hits over the final five frames of work. The senior right-hander struck out 12, including five of the final seven outs, while giving up just one free pass - the intentional walk in the first.

Player of the game: Toronto had scored at least two runs in every game this season and on 17 occasions scored nine or more runs. But Ernst was up to the task with seven strikeouts, five with the curve. The top five batters in the Toronto lineup came in batting .418 or better, but finished just 2-for-15 in the game with two walks while striking out four times.

Ernst on his performance: “We knew that they were good coming in. Me and coach talked that we were going to have to spot pitches better. We’re going to have to get outs with them putting it in play, not strikeouts.”

Season finale: Zdinak, an Ashland commit, was one of just three seniors on the Toronto roster that featured five freshmen, including number two-hole hitter Lucas Gulczynski.

What’s next?: With a pair of Ohio State recruits returning in junior Nolan Clegg and sophomore Nathan Karaffa, the Red Knights will have a target on their backs in 2018. Minster now looks to join the 2011 and 2012 squads that brought home a state title to Auglaize County. The Wildcats have done it with defense and pitching, surrendering just three runs in seven tournament games to date.


Minster        300 000 0 - 3 8 0
Toronto        000 000 0 - 0 6 2  

Records:.Minster 24-7, Toronto 27-4.

Winning Pitcher: Aaron Ernst (7 innings, 0 runs, 0 earned, 6 hits, 7 strikeouts, 3 walks).

Losing Pitcher: Danny Zdinak (7 innings, 3 runs, 0 earned, 8 hits, 12 strikeouts, 1 walk).

Leading Hitters: (Minster) - Isaac Schmiessing 2 singles; Jon Niemeyer single, double; Alex Lehmkuhl 2 singles; Bryce Schmiessing single; Jared Huelsman single.. (Toronto) - Lucas Gulczynski single; Nathan Karaffa single; Sante Carducci single; Zach Gulczynski 2 singles; Cole Bodnar single.