Prep Baseball Report

2019 OHSAA State Tourney Wrap-up

Bruce Hefflinger
PBR Ohio Senior Writer

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2019 OHSAA State Tourney Wrap-up

AKRON - Another Ohio High School Athletic Association State Baseball Tournament is in the books.

Six programs - St. Clairsville, Van Wert, Hillsdale, Antwerp, Ridgewood and Hilliard Darby - were rookies in the Final Four, while schools such as Coldwater, St. Ignatius, Canton Central Catholic, Chaminade-Julienne and Minster have become veterans at state, all of which have played in at least five state tournaments.

While the number of big-time college pitching prospects was less than in recent years, the quality of pitchers at the high-school level was strong and a big reason why these teams made it this far. In only four games did a team score more than four runs throughout the 12-game tournament. In fact, in the four championship games on Sunday there were 17 combined runs scored with nobody plating better than four runs..

PITCHING BREAKDOWN: Chaminade-Julienne pitchers struck out 15 and did not walk a batter in two complete-game efforts in winning the Division II state championship. … Half of the starting pitchers at the tournament threw a complete game. Understanding St. Ignatius games went 13 and 10 innings, that means 12 out of 22 pitchers in the seven-inning games played went the distance. .. Antwerp was the only Division IV team to even go to its bullpen. .. Of the four state champions, three of them used only two pitchers in claiming a title. … Unbelievably, Ridgewood pitchers never struck out a batter in the two games the Generals were in. … Six starting pitchers walked one or fewer opponent batter and all six came out on top. … There were five shutouts while five other teams scored just one run, both marks tying state records set a year ago. … This was also just the third time in state history two games ended 1-0 in the same tourney, the others coming in 2010 and 1969. However, two 1-0 championship finals had never happened prior. … There were just 140 total pitches thrown in the Ridgewood-Coldwater Division III championship game, with only 44 called balls. There were two walks and three combined strikeouts in the tournament finale.

FIELDING NUMBERS: Gilmour Academy did not commit an error in two games at state…. There were nine no-error performances by teams, although five of them were by squads that lost the game they had no miscues. … Hillsdale committed one error in two games, only the fifth error of the season by the Falcons. .. Both Division III semifinal losers gave up fewer earned runs than their opponent, but each committed five miscues in the field which proved a big reason in the defeat. … There were two games that were errorless, semifinal games Hillsdale-Minster and Gilmour-St. Clairsville. The final scores were 1-0 and 2-0.

LONG AND SHORT OF IT: The 13-inning game between St. Ignatius and Hilliard Darby was the longest in state history. Previously, there were three games that went 12 innings, the last being Wheelersburg versus Hamilton Badin in the 2010 Division III semifinals. ...The tournament finale between Coldwater and Ridgewood lasted just 71 minutes, reportedly the quickest game in tourney history. … Not far off was the Hilldale-Minster D-IV semifinal game which was over in 80 minutes. A year ago, the fastest game in the tournament was 95 minutes. … In contrast, the 13-inning Ignatius-Darby contest went 3 hours and 43 minutes. St. Ignatius got its money’s worth by going 3 hours and 3 minutes in the state final. No other game lasted longer than 2 hours and 14 minutes.

EXPERIENCE HELPS: Experience seemed to be a virtue, with playing at state nothing new to this year’s winners. D-III champ Coldwater has now been to state more than any program ever with 21 appearances, while winning a seventh title. The only schools with more are Elder (12), Newark Catholic (9) and Moeller (8). … D-I winner St. Ignatius made its 14th state showing, reaching the finals for the fourth time and winning for the second time. … D-II champion Chaminade-Julienne was in the finals for a third straight year while becoming the ninth school to ever claim back-to-back titles, the last being Defiance (D-II) and Newark Catholic (D-IV) both doing it in 2015-16. … Only one state titleist,Toronto in Division IV, was in a four-team field with a program that had more state history, that being Minster. But in winning state championship number two in appearance number four, the Red Knights defeated two teams - Antwerp and Hillsdale - that were in the Final Four for the first time ever.

FINAL NOTE: The venue move proved great for teams and fans in the northeast and east side of Ohio, none more so than the Division I finalists Mentor and St. Ignatius. By the end of the 10-inning championship game, fans coming to see game two on Sunday had arrived and the lower level seats on both sides were nearly filled. While no individual game attendance is kept, there had to be more people at the end of that game than any in state tournament history. And not only was the crowd large, a salute goes out to both student sections which each stood together on their sides of home plate, Mentor kids 150-strong decked out in red and the 100-plus St. Ignatius students in all white chanting back and forth in a spirited manner, exemplifying what high school athletics is all about. … The 2020 tournament returns to Akron but will be the second weekend in June rather than the first. According to OHSAA Commissioner Jerry Snodgrass, the three-day event will return to a Thursday-Friday-Saturday format on June 11-13.