Prep Baseball Report

Prep Baseball Invitational Featured Best In The Midwest

Bruce Hefflinger
Ohio Senior Writer

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Prep Baseball Invitational Featured Best In The Midwest

CINCINNATI - The Prep Baseball Invitational just keeps getting better and better.

The third year of the eight-team, three-game format event had a few tweaks from the previous two and proved popular to all involved.

“The invitational was outstanding!” proclaimed Tim Held, head coach of Moeller, which won the championship over Northville. “It was well organized and all the teams were great. “We were very happy to be a part of it.”

Northville mentor Dan Cimini also had high praise.

“It was great being a part of this tournament,” Cimini said. “Great venues, great teams, great coaches and especially great players. Lots of fantastic coverage by PBR Ohio...they really highlighted the top players and teams in a classy way.” 

A change in venue as well as the addition of teams from Michigan and Kentucky were part of the 2024 Invitational.

“We moved from the Toledo area to Cincinnati and I think it was an incredibly wise decision,” explained Phil O’Shea, Prep Baseball Tournament Director. “It’s a stronger baseball hotbed and teams were more willing to play in the south. We also moved it back two weeks and teams were able to move their schedules.

“The weather also cooperated. All the coaches said this was the time and right way to do it.”


Getting to be part of the Invitational was a special feeling according to the players.

“First of all, it’s an honor for our team to be invited by PBR to represent our school and the state of Michigan,” explained Northville senior Dante Nori, a Mississippi State commit ranked sixth in the nation among 2024 outfielders. “It speaks to the success our program has been able to sustain over the last several years to have the opportunity to compete against the top teams from Ohio and Kentucky.”

For others, being there as an underclassmen brought not only excitement, but the chance to show out playing against older players.

“The High School Invitational was one of, if not the best, experiences I've ever had playing baseball,” related Badin’s Chandler Taylor, an uncommitted sophomore rated 27th in the 2026 class of outfielders in the nation. “The competition we faced was amazing and winning two out of three games versus top teams in the country was super fun.”

Another 10th grader yet to decide on a college had an enjoyable as well as impressive outing.

“The event was great,” pointed out Moeller sophomore Conner Cuozzo, the 28th-ranked 2026 third baseman in the country. “It was really good for our team to face some premier arms.”

Cuozzo sparked in that regard, going 4-7 at the plate with three home runs, four runs scored, five RBIs, two walks and a stolen base in earning Most Valuable Player recognition for the Invite.

Taylor was also part of the All-Invitational team that was selected after the fifth-rated sophomore in Ohio finished 2-8 with a home run and double, scoring four runs and driving in two while also reaching base four times on walks and stealing a base.


“It was a great weekend for high school baseball,” explained Kyle Weldon, Ohio Director of Scouting. “The coaches and players put a great product on the field in front of a lot of eyes.”  

Like Weldon, Pete Whitmer was part of the event for the first time working for Prep Baseball.

“It was an impressive display of talent from top to bottom,” noted the Lead Scout for PBR for the state of Ohio. “Some of the best programs in the Midwest at some of the best baseball venues in the state. I’m excited for years to come as this premier high school event continues to grow!”

Alex Stefanelli, Director of Social Media for Prep Baseball Ohio, has been a mainstay at the event in year’s past.

“Another awesome High School Invite in the books,” Stefanelli said. “A big thank you to all of the sites who hosted … first-class facilities across the board. Props to Phil O’Shea for getting some of the best programs in the entire Midwest in attendance. The talent was on full display from the first game to the last game. The bar has been raised for the Ohio High School Invitational and I can’t wait to see what 2025 looks like.”

O’Shea was thrilled with how it all turned out.

“The fact that we had three teams in the top 50 in the country at the same place along with other teams that were no slouch … the talent level was so high,” O’Shea said. “At least 14 or 15 pro organizations were at the event. It just continues to grow with the publicity. It was just a really, really good weekend for baseball.”


Three teams ranked in the Prep Baseball National-Top 50 is all the proof needed how strong this field was at the Invitational. 

Moeller is ranked fifth, Northville (Michigan) 20th and Trinity (Kentucky) 47th, and all are the highest-rated teams in their respective states. And while Moeller and Northville reached the finals in a matchup of Ohio vs. Michigan, it did not come without surviving early-round thrillers.

Moeller outlast St. Ed’s 3-1 in a pitching battle between Tyler Heflin and Max McClellan, then scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth to rally past St. Ignatius 11-9 in the semifinals. Northville edged Jackson 3-2 before knocking off Badin 7-2 in the finals.

In the end, four Moeller pitchers combined to permit one earned run in a 6-2 championship game victory over Northville, which left the bases loaded in the seventh. Conner Cuozzo hit two home runs and drove in three for the defending Division I state champions from Ohio, which remained unbeaten on the season while handing Northville its first defeat.

Badin topped St. Ignatius 8-5 for third place, Trinity beat Jackson 10-0 for fifth and St. Xavier, Ky. was a 7-5 winner over St. Ed’s in the seventh-place game.


Many prestigious programs have the opportunity to open the season in the warmer weather of the south and often see other top-notch programs. But only on a few occasions are teams able to play those in states next door. That opportunity came at the Invitational with two Kentucky and one Michigan squad in the field.

“It was a great challenge in the middle of the season so I didn’t know how it was going to go against teams of this caliber,” related Held. “It was a great test for our team.”

After all, playing outstanding teams can only make your team better.

“It is always great to play the best,” Cimini said. “Coaches follow other teams and it’s fun to compete against established programs from other states. A lot of these boys have played together or against each other on the summer circuit and it meant a lot to compete against players they know.”

As the schedule worked out, Badin faced one team from Ohio, one from Kentucky and one from Michigan.

“Playing Trinity and Northville made it so much more fun for everyone because they’re top teams with top players and they don’t want to lose just like us,” Taylor noted. “I felt like as a team with lots of underclassmen, we stood up to the challenges all weekend.”

It was only fitting that the finals turned out to be the best in Ohio against the best in Michigan.

“Any time you match up against a team from another state, there is extra motivation to play well,” explained Nori. “We wanted to represent Michigan baseball well and show that even though we are a northern state, we can play this game at a high level and compete with anyone. Plus, anytime Michigan and Ohio match up it’s a rivalry and then add in both teams were ranked #1 in their state. It can’t help but be a game people look forward to and as a competitor, those are games you want to play.”

Of course, winning in that huge matchup made it even better.

“Beating the No. 1 team in Michigan was great for us,” Cuozzo said. “It will help us come tournament play.”


There are regular season games … and then there are regular season games. This was different according to those involved.

“It definitely felt a lot more energetic in the dugout,” Cuozzo said. “We had a ton of juice all weekend.”

It was the same for Taylor and his Badin teammates.

“The feeling in the dugout definitely changed from more calm and relaxed to everyone being on board,” Taylor explained. “All the games we played were fortunately at our home field which made it even a bigger challenge to protect.”

As the lone team from Michigan, Nori and his brothers from Northville were ready for the challenge.

“Coach Cimini does a great job of preparing us to treat every game like it is the most important game of the season.” Nori explained. “But, we looked at this like the state tournament, where it’s win or go home. Anytime you can put yourself in those situations during the regular season it prepares us for what we need to do in June. In addition, anytime you are playing against top-ranked teams, there is an excitement and enthusiasm that comes with it naturally.”

The coaches felt it, too.

“It was a great atmosphere from the baseball aspect and feel,” Cimini noted. “There was electricity in the air at each venue and I thought the players did a great job handling the hype and competing at a high level. It was a pleasure to meet all the coaches and their staff.”

The format brought on an additional excitement to the weekend.

“This event added an extra level of intensity since we were advancing through a bracket,” Held pointed out. “Each game that intensity went up. It was like playing three GCL games in two days.”


For coaches at the event, being part of the Invitational brought on a chance to see what their team was made of in mid-April.

“I was hoping to put our hitters and pitchers in a tournament atmosphere so they would understand what it’s going to be like trying to secure a GCL title and advance through each round of the playoffs,” Held said. “They rose to the occasion and we found out a lot about our roster.”

Cimini also saw plenty to gain.

“It was an opportunity to go toe-to-toe with the best teams in the Midwest....regardless of the scores,” Cimini said. “EVERYONE got better this weekend competing against the best. These events should be something all the best teams should want to play in every year!”

The event, and being part of other Prep Baseball showcases, has had an impact on Nori.

“PBR does a great job of promoting high school baseball players and teams,” the top-ranked senior in Michigan said. “Every PBR event I have participated in - showcases, Futures, summer tournaments and Invitationals are always done in a first-class manner. Anytime you go to a PBR event, all you have to worry about is having yourself ready to play your best because PBR is going to provide everything else to help you be the best version of yourself.”


As for the underclassmen and coaches, the chance at returning to the Invitational remains.

“I look forward to being invited to play in the invitational again sometime,” Held concluded.

For O’Shea and others at Prep Baseball, plans are already in progress.

“We’re starting to work on next year this week,” O’Shea said. “The goal is to keep it in the Cincinnati area in 2025. There are calls to make to lock up locations and dates and we’ll start assembling a list of teams. Last year we did that in late May.

“We may also try to include a Pennsylvania team, while also reaching out to Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Kentucky teams. We’ll try to get the eight best teams we can.”

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