Prep Baseball Report

High School Classic At Defiance Featured A Field Of Dreams

Bruce Hefflinger
Ohio Senior Writer

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High School Classic at Defiance featured a Field of Dreams

DEFIANCE - Even the state tournament will be hard pressed to have the talent that was on display Saturday at the Prep Baseball Classic in Defiance.

After all, there were the top five Division I teams in the state in action along with three of the top 10 in D-II, including the No. 1 squad. There were seven pitchers that hit 88 on the radar including three that reached 90 or better. College commits were in abundance, including 18 at Moeller alone.

“I can’t believe this is going on in Defiance,” Steve Kohrn, a local attorney and sports history buff, was overheard saying upon arriving to search for an open seat to witness the impressive display of talent that was assembled by Prep Baseball.

Much of the credit for putting together a field of this magnitude goes to Dylan Hefflinger, Editor in Chief/Advanced Scout for Prep Baseball who is in charge of organizing the Classic events across the state.

“In 2020, when envisioning what I wanted our High School Classics to become, this is the prime example of what I wanted,” Hefflinger explained. “Eight of the top teams in the state, four intriguing matchups, talent all across the field, all in one spot. That is the definition of a High School Classic to me and what I will strive to replicate all over the state next year and for years to come.”

This marks the third year that Defiance has hosted Prep Baseball Classics and the second of three scheduled this year, with another on tap this coming Saturday.

“We are proud and honored to host such high-quality schools and teams at our facility which we consider one of the finest high school facilities in Ohio,” noted Defiance High School athletic director Jerry Buti. “Our people work hard to be great hosts and welcoming to all our visitors to create a positive experience for all involved. It was a great weather day and the large crowd was fun to have here to support the games.”

There were an estimated 500+ fans on hand, with players from numerous area schools also in attendance watching these special teams put on a show.

“The best part about hosting the Prep Baseball Classic is seeing top teams from around the state that we don’t usually get to,” related Defiance head coach Rick Weaver, whose team played on Saturday night in the last of four games. “It was extra fun because all eight of us coaches are great friends. We text daily and hang out yearly at the State and National baseball clinics. The other bonus of hosting is we get to show off our first-class facilities.”


The head coaches with teams in the field were more than excited to be among the seven visiting squads participating from across the state.

“I love being on the same field and at the same venue with so many great baseball people,” explained Olentangy Orange head coach Tom Marker. “The city of Defiance screams high school baseball and the opportunity to create an experience for our guys is what we, as a baseball program, love to do.”

Mason head coach Curt Bly has been part of the classic in Defiance previously.

“Having the opportunity to go to Defiance and see so many of my closest friends in the coaching profession was awesome,” Bly said. “Obviously, Defiance is one of the premier facilities in the state and Prep Baseball always puts on a great event, so it was a no-brainer for us.”

The same goes for Mike Weaver, head coach at Olentangy Berlin.

“The events are always well run, at great facilities with good competition,” the brother of the Defiance head coach related. “We do it for the great exposure that Prep Baseball gives to our kids. They love it. Being able to come back to Defiance and spend the day with family, and great coaching friends is an added plus.”

Grove City mentor Ryan Alexander sees being part of the event with such strong teams as beneficial for his squad. 

“We love to play the best teams in Ohio and the U.S.,” Alexander said. “It only makes us better and mentally tougher for every game we play in our league and through the tourney.”

Nobody has seen stronger opponents this season than Tim Held and Moeller, the fourth-rated team in the nation.

“Events like Saturday in Defiance are great for high school baseball,” pointed out Held. “They bring the best teams together to one location to showcase some of the top talent in the state.”

Wapakoneta and Jonathan Alder played in the first game of the day and both coaches were more than pleased to be in the top-notch field.

“Saturday’s Prep Baseball event at Defiance was in one word - Awesome,” said Wapak head coach Jason Brandt. “It was a great environment for our players to compete with one of the top teams in the state regardless of division. Knowing that a group of coaches who are also good friends were able to pull this off with the help of Prep Baseball is what makes high school baseball so good. I wish we didn’t have to get back to Wapak so soon after the game due to prom, because I wanted our guys to see all the other talented players as well.”

Alder head coach Craig Kyle and his team were able to stick around to watch much of the action once their game was completed.

“Playing against great competition and being able to be a part of such a great event with some of my closest friends and colleagues was priceless,” Kyle said. “Playing in our game was great, but honestly what stood out to me the most was how after the games how many of the players from each of the teams interacted and hung out with each other. It was just really cool to see the level of respect among the teams and talent that were in attendance.”


It was definitely a memorable time for the players.

“It was awesome to be in and around so much great baseball,” noted Moeller pitcher Kellan Klosterman. “We’ve heard a lot about all of the teams that played, and finally getting to see them do their thing was really cool.”

Keegan Holmstrom, the third-rated senior left-handed pitcher in Ohio, had similar feelings.

“Being able to take part in a day loaded with so much talent is awesome for our entire team,” the Grove City two-way standout said. “With the tourney run quickly approaching, this weekend gave our team the opportunity to compete against the caliber of teams we will need to beat if we are to make a deep run in the tournament.”

Other players also had good things to say about the experience.

“It was awesome,” said Taylor Bednar, an Olentangy Berlin senior right-handed pitcher who is committed to play at the next level with Akron. “I love good baseball and competing with the best teams in Ohio.”

Tyler Barton of Jonathan Alder had the same thoughts.

“It was really cool to be a part of the event,” the uncommitted junior right-handed pitcher said. “It was an honor to play with such good teams.”


Klosterman, Holmstrom, Bednar and Barton were each named Player of the Game in their respective contests with all making their mark on the mound.

None was more impressive than Klosterman, a senior right-hander committed to Notre Dame.

“I thought I pitched really well,” said the 55th-ranked 2024 RHP in the nation, who had pitched just six innings this season prior to Saturday due to a minor setback late in the offseason. “I had command of my fastball, slider and curveball, which I used to consistently keep the hitters guessing. It was obviously tough not getting to pitch early on this season, but I knew that if I stayed the course and attacked the plan laid in front of me, then I would eventually get my time to display what I've worked hard to do.”

Like Klosterman, Bednar also went the distance to pick up the win. The 34th-ranked senior right-handed pitcher in Ohio threw five shutout innings before surrendering two runs in the sixth against Defiance, then got out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh to hold on for a 5-3 victory.

“I felt like I was just competing in those last couple of innings,” Bednar related. “I give them my best stuff and if they hit it they hit it.”

Barton started the day off strong in the opener of the four games, going all the way in a 4-0 win over Wapakoneta, the 10th-ranked D-II team in Ohio.

“I think overall I pitched well,” Barton explained. “The biggest thing for me was to locate my pitches in and out. I also did a solid job mixing in my curveball. It was a good experience for me getting closer to the postseason.”

Holmstrom came on in relief to pick up the save for Grove City, recording the final two outs, including a ground out to short with a runner on third to close out a 5-4 victory over Mason in a matchup of programs that met in the Division I state semifinal in 2022.

“Personally, I think I’ve been finding my stride at the right time,” explained the Ohio State commit, who was 2-3 with a run, RBI, walk and stolen base. “I struggled early in the year but every one of my brothers had my back from opening day. This group has been so positive and supportive of everyone on the team. We’ve bought into that team atmosphere and we’re playing very well together.

“As for Saturday, I was fortunate to be in some big situations because of my teammates getting their jobs done ahead of me and on the mound. My defense had my back like they have all year and made two big-time plays to help put away a big win for us.”

Being recognized after the contest was obviously an honor for each, but helping the team win was of most importance.

“Being Player of the Game and beating a team like Olentangy Orange, who are one of the best programs in the state, means a ton,” Klosterman said. “They had great battles all night, and I'm glad we were able to come out on top. My defense helped me tremendously, too, making great plays behind me to help us get out of innings efficiently.”

Barton was happy to be able to get the job done in his one-hit performance to beat Wapakoneta.

“It was an honor to be the Player of the Game and very fun to play against a talented team,” Barton said.

Holmstrom was quick to credit his teammates for helping bring home the victory.

“It’s an honor to be named Player of the Game, however, I know I’m not in the situations I was in without my guys getting their jobs done as well,” Holmstrom explained. “Being able to beat a team like Mason is huge for us. I know there’s been some questions about if we can hang with the top dawgs in the state, but I think we proved we can play with anybody as long as we continue buying into the team goal.

“Mason has a loaded roster that always does things the right way,” the third-rated senior left-handed pitcher in Ohio continued. “They don’t give away extra outs and definitely do not get shorted in any of their at-bats so I’m super proud of the way our guys battled as a team every pitch. We know that’s what we have to keep doing in order to accomplish the big goals we have still to come!”

Bednar was not only happy to help his teammates come out on top, but also thrilled for his head coach

“I just enjoyed helping my team win and helping coach Weaver beat his brother,” Bednar said.


Ohhhh yeah, the brother matchup.

With Rick Weaver taking over at the helm of the Defiance program for long-time mentor Tom Held, who led the Bulldogs to three state championships in his tenure, it meant brother versus brother in the Defiance and Berlin game.

“Coaching against Mike was a great experience for us and our family,” explained Rick, who had coached versus his sibling previously at the Classic in Defiance as an assistant coach with the Bulldogs. “We had a lot of family members and friends that attended the game. It was a great game and a great atmosphere. It will be a day that we will talk about for a long time.”

Mike was modest in talking about the game and coming out on top.

“It was more special for our family, and probably more agonizing for us,” the Berlin head coach said. “I’m glad it’s over. We’re both each other’s biggest fans, so there won't be any bragging. It isn’t our personality and we love each other too much. We are best friends. But I will bring it up if he tries to get in my head while we are playing golf the next time.”


More importantly for the coaches is the team aspect. All had different thoughts about what stood out in each of their games.

Olentangy Berlin 5, Defiance 3

Mike Weaver: “The pitching in our game was everything I expected. Coach Jordan (our pitching coach and former Defiance assistant) and myself and obviously coach Weaver are coach (Tom) Held protégés so it shouldn't have been a surprise to anyone that pitching and defense would control our game. It did not disappoint. We like to make games more interesting at the end than I would prefer, but our guys competed.”

Rick Weaver: “What stood out about our game to me is that Berlin is a really good team. Their pitcher is the best we have seen all year. They have everything it takes to make a long tournament run. As for our team, I loved the way Luke Webb competed on the mound. It was a performance that should give him confidence as we get closer to tournament time. I thought we never quit and battled the entire game against a great pitcher. We had a chance at the end and that’s all you can ask.”

Jonathan Alder 4, Wapak 0

Kyle: “Our pitching led the way for us yet again as it has all year. Tyler Barton did an excellent job of getting ahead, throwing strikes and locating his pitches in specific counts. When you have a pitcher that works quick and throws strikes like that it makes it really easy to play defense. behind him. Due to that, our defense was able to make the routine plays in the clutch situations. On offense we were able to put the ball in play, get some timely hits and were able to execute our bunt and base stealing game.”

Brandt: “It’s not very often that you can put together a game well before the season begins that matches two top programs together. I felt like our team competed with Jonathan Alder from the get go. We needed to play cleaner baseball and to have better at-bats, but it was a great matchup. This is something that will help prepare our kids moving forward. We start four sophomores who have not played in big games quite yet, so this will help them as well. I think this also showed our kids what it’s going to take moving forward to compete and beat the best.”

Grove City 5, Mason 4

Alexander: “I loved the atmosphere of the game. Both teams battling every pitch, dugouts were rowdy … It was an amazing environment for a high school kid. Playing a team like Mason will only help answer a lot of questions about your club. No matter who you are playing - you can play fearless and aggressive!!”

Bly: “Our game with Grove City certainly had a playoff atmosphere. There were several lead changes and big moments in the game on both sides. Ryan does a great job and it’s always fun to compete against him.”

Moeller 2, Olentangy Orange 0

Held: “Our game featured some top pitching. The pitchers for both teams were efficient and challenged the hitters. I thought Kellan Klosterman was outstanding, allowing only three base runners all day. The defenses from both teams stepped up and made plays to stop some rallies.”

Marker: “Moeller is so talented and Klosterman has a two-pitch mix that is elite. I thought our ability to shift defensively and put ourselves in positions to minimize damage was vitally important.”


The Moeller and Orange contest was a rematch of last year’s Division I state title game and both coaches see it important to face that type of competition in the regular season.

“We love playing different teams with different styles,” Marker said. “Moeller was hitting .355 coming into the game and we knew that we’d have our hands full. Our staff limited them to three hits and Brock Kompa was 85-87 and really did a good job elevating the fastball in plus counts.

“Our team has gotten better each game this year. It doesn’t always show because we’ve faced Louisville, Ohio State and Notre Dame commits over the last few weeks, but our hope is to be battle tested going into the tournament.”

Moeller is certainly battle tested after playing teams from Michigan, Illinois, Kentucky and Virginia this season, in addition to a 7-5 10-inning win over Mason two weeks prior. Along the way the Crusaders defeated Northville, Mich., 6-2 in the championship game of the Prep Baseball Invitational.

“Our schedule this year has allowed us to put a young offense and defense in some great settings so they are ready for the tournament,” Held said. “They have responded every step of the way to those crowds. Saturday was no different with a huge crowd and seeing many people in the stands from different programs around northwest Ohio. Facing Orange for the third time in two seasons, it was good for us to face one of the top teams in central Ohio.”


For each coach, there was a lot to learn while being part of the Classic at Defiance.

“What I can take away is that you can play with anyone in the state if you show up every day ready to compete,” Alexander said. “You can beat anyone, but at the same time, you can be beat by anyone!!”

Brandt saw a lot to like in defeat.

“I think this proved to our kids that we can compete with one of the best programs in the state,” the Wapak coach pointed out. “I also think it was a great showing for Drew Bailey as he limited a very good offense to just one earned run. While he is not an overpowering type pitcher, he just throws strikes.”

Mike Weaver had high praise after watching his squad outlast Defiance, the fourth-ranked team in Division II.

“We have done a good job staying positive mentally and controlling what we can control, taking things one day at a time, learning from mistakes and just sticking together,” said the Berlin coach, whose Bears are ranked third in Ohio in D-I. “They are a special group of young men.”

A group with high expectations, like the others in the field, with tournament play just about to begin.

“The best thing I saw from our team is that we competed to the very end against a top team in Ohio,” Rick Weaver said. “It will only make us better as we finish up our league schedule and prepare for the tournament.”

It was a great step forward according to Kyle, the leader of the No. 1 team in Ohio in Division II.

“I think anytime you can play against a great program like Wapakoneta that are coached as well as they are, you take it,” the Alder head coach noted. “Our game on Saturday was another step toward where we want and expect to be at the end of the season. It was another reminder to be in the moment and to focus only on the next game in front of us. We will use the momentum we earned from this great win on Saturday and continue to keep trusting the process.”

Playing a team like Moeller can always be a learning experience.

“I think knowing that we can pitch and defend with anyone and that our guys won’t back down against velocity,” Marker said about what he took away from his team’s performance against the top-rated team in Ohio. “I’m excited to see our approaches continue to develop as we near sectional play.”

There was plenty to learn as well for Mason in the loss to Grove City.  

“Being in high-leverage pressure situations like that can only benefit you heading into the tournament,” Bly explained. “It was definitely a playoff atmosphere, so getting to be in that environment prior to the ‘real thing’ is great for any team.”

The hope for everyone is a run to state.

“This was good for our team,” noted Held, whose team beat Orange in last year’s D-I state final. “We saw another set of arms that challenged us. We will use it as another learning opportunity to help us prepare for the state tournament.”


The Classic certainly was good preparation for state as well as a great experience for coaches, players and fans alike - especially with the talent that was on display in each of the four games.

“Playing great competition in front of a nice crowd is what high school sports are all about,” Brandt said. 

It had a tourney feeling according to Kyle.

“It’s really hard to replicate during the regular season an environment that rivals a tournament game,” the Alder coach explained. “Being at Defiance on Saturday with Prep Baseball and all of the great teams, coaches and players in attendance was as close to creating that tournament feel as I’ve seen in my years of coaching.”

Prep Baseball was happy to help provide that experience.

“It was a great atmosphere for high school baseball in Ohio from game one to game four,” noted Pete Whitmer, Prep Baseball Ohio Advanced Scout. “You can’t beat having eight of the top teams the state has to offer, all at the same venue. It was a positive experience for all parties involved. There were awesome facilities and amenities for coaches, players and fans. It was one of the best high school baseball experiences outside of a state tournament game you’ll find.”

Kyle Weldon, Prep Baseball Ohio Director of Scouting, also witnessed the event and was thrilled with what he saw.

“The spring classic did not disappoint,” Weldon said. “There was a lot of talent on display and we got to see teams competing in a tournament-like atmosphere. You can’t ask for more when you get to watch quality programs with rich baseball histories square off at one of the best high school facilities in the state.”

It was what Hefflinger hoped for when putting the event together.

“I wish all high school games in Ohio would have this type of atmosphere,” Hefflinger said. “This makes games mean more and precious memories to be had while playing in environments like this.

“A shout out to Defiance and the surrounding towns for coming to the contests and making noise all day and night. Yes, I was working all day and night, but I was stopped and told compliments 50+ times throughout the day.

“I want to thank these eight coaches for helping me put this together, and spoiler, this Classic may be increasing to 10 teams, with Saint Ignatius and another team hopping on.”

The aim for Prep Baseball is to put together more Classic events similar to this one.

“I’ll start working on schedules for next year sooner than later,” Hefflinger concluded. “We’re hoping to make all our events look like this… that’s the goal.”


To view the Scout Blog from the event, featuring numerous prospects, please click below.

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