Prep Baseball Report

2019 OHSAA Tournament: Division II State Semifinal - No. 5 Gilmour Academy vs St. Clairsville

Bruce Hefflinger
PBR Ohio Senior Writer

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AKRON - Ben DeMell threw a two-hit shutout to send Gilmour Academy to the Division II finals on Sunday at 4 p.m. with a 2-0 win over St. Clairsville in the state semifinals at Canal Park on Saturday morning.

The sophomore right-hander only allowed three base runners in the game to improve to 11-1 on the season.

The fifth-ranked team in the state scored single tallies in both the first and fourth innings and the Penn State commit made it stand up in a battle of teams trying to win a game at state for the first time in their program’s history.

Matt Christopher led off the bottom of the first with a walk and came home on a Nick Christopher RBI single, one of three hits in the game by the senior catcher, who plans to walk on at Bucknell.

The Lancers added to the lead in the fourth when Nick Christopher opened the frame with a base hit and came around to touch home plate on a run-scoring single to right by DH Marco Costabile.

Kyle Storer was strong in defeat for unranked St. Clairsville, allowing six hits and one walk in the complete-game effort.


Fundamentals: Execution proved vital in the two runs scored by Gilmour Academy. In the first, a sacrifice bunt by Jack Krebs moved Matt Christopher, the leadoff batter, to second and a fly ball by DeMell advanced Matt Christopher to third before a base hit plated the Gilmour junior. In the fourth, a sac bunt from Garrett Olsen pushed Nick Christopher into scoring position before the RBI hit from Costabile.

Player of the game: DeMell was dominant in the victory, retiring the first eight hitters for St. Clairsville as well as the last nine in the shutout performance. Nine-hole hitter Tyler Tonkovich hit an 0-2 changeup for the first hit by the Red Devils while Derek Witsberger ripped a sharp single to left in the fifth for the other base knock by St. Clairsville. DeMell had five 1-2-3 innings and did not allow a base runner to reach third, walking just one while fanning eight. The 6-5 185-pound right-hander threw 63 of 91 pitches for strikes.

Solid defense: Although losing, St. Clairsville stayed in the game with outstanding defense. In the second inning, second baseman John Luke DeFilippo made a nice diving catch in short center field to prevent the leadoff hitter from reaching base and left fielder Peyton Drake followed with a sliding catch on the next Gilmour batter. An inning later, St. Clairsville third baseman Tonkovich had a beautiful backhand stop and throw to again not allow the Gilmour first hitter of the frame to reach base. In the fourth, first baseman Will Balgo added to the gems with a nice catch reaching into the stands in foul territory with the Lancers threatening to add to the lead.  

What’s next?: Witsberger, Tonkovich, Balgo and DeFilippo are back for the Red Devils, with both Witsberger and Tonkovich being counted on to provide pitching. More depth on the mound may be needed if a return trip to state is to happen.


St. Clairsville         000 000 0 - 0 2 0
Gilmour Academy 100 100 x  - 2 6 0

Records: Gilmour Academy 25-6, St. Clairsville 20-11.

Winning Pitcher: Ben DeMell (7 innings, 0 runs, 2 hits, 8 strikeouts, 1 walk).

Losing Pitcher: Kyle Storer (6 innings, 2 runs, 6 hits, 1 strikeout, 1 walk).

Leading Hitters: (St. Clairsville) - Derek Witsberg single; Tyler Tonkovich single. (Gilmour Academy) - Ben DeMell double; Nick Christopher 3 singles; Marco Costabile single; Ty Plucinsky single.