Prep Baseball Report

Division I Team Of The Week: Week 2 - Archbishop Moeller

Bruce Hefflinger
Ohio Senior Writer

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Division I Team Of The Week: Week 2 - Archbishop Moeller

CINCINNATI - When you are the defending state champions and ranked nationally, optimism is at a premium. Dealing with that target is not always easy, but so far Moeller has lived up to any pressure that comes with it.

“Expectations have been high,” related Tim Held, head coach of the Prep Baseball Division I Team of the Week. “I think we felt some weight of those expectations early in the season before we could get out and play some opponents, but the new players have seemed to settle into their roles and the expectation of playing at a high level every day.”

Playing at LakePoint, Ga. this past week, the Crusaders knocked off teams from three different states to improve to 7-0 on the season. The nation’s fifth-rated team defeated DePaul College Prep, Ill., 17-1, Harlan County, Ky., 13-0 and Granby, Va. 17-2.

“We were able to throw a lot of guys over the break, and combined we gave up three runs, nine hits and struck out 18,” related Held. “Hitting-wise, we had 35 hits in the three games.”

Carter Christenson was 2-3 with five RBIs vs DePaul, Conner Cuozzo was 2-3 with three RBIs vs. Harlan County and Luke Pappano and Will McCullough each went 3-4 against Granby while Matt Ponatoski was 3-3 with a home run versus in Granby.

Christianson, a junior shortstop committed to Ohio State, and Ponatoski, an uncommitted sophomore, are both hitting .533, Christianson driving in 10 runs, scoring nine and stealing six bases while Ponatoski has 14 RBIs and 12 runs scored. Charlie Valencic, a junior committed to Radford, is batting .524 with 12 runs scored while McCullough has a .500 average with 13 runs and eight stolen bases. Cuozzo, Cooper Ridley and Forest Day, a senior headed to Centre College, are all carrying a .462 batting mark and Hanleigh Lopez is at .727 in eight at-bats for a squad with a .439 team batting average. 

“I have been surprised by the early season power from the offense,” Held admitted. “Typically that takes a little bit of time to come around as hitters get adjusted to hitting in the cold in March and early April.”

On the mound, junior LSU commit Zion Theophilus is 3-0 with 13 strikeouts in seven innings and Connor Fuhrer 2-0. David Hagen, a senior signed with West Virginia, and Tyler Heflin, a senior committed to Youngstown State, have one win apiece while Sam Scuglik, an Ashland commit, has thrown 5.1 innings in four appearances, fanning nine with one save for a squad that is still not a full strength.

Another big week is ahead with contests against St. Xavier today, LaSalle on Wednesday and the Prep Baseball Invitational this weekend in a field featuring two other nationally-rated teams, Northville, Mich. (20th) and Trinity, Ky. (47th). Moeller’s first game at the Invite is against St. Edward, the 42nd-rated Division I team in Ohio.

“We will need to continue to be consistent offensively and defensively and to get our arms all back healthy,” concluded the head coach of the top-ranked team in the Buckeye State.

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