Prep Baseball Report

2019 OHSAA Tournament: Division III State Final - No. 4 Coldwater vs No. 22 Ridgewood

Bruce Hefflinger
PBR Ohio Senior Writer

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AKRON - Losing in last year’s Division III state championship game only motivated Coldwater for the 2019 season.

“After South Range our motto ended up being finish strong,” Jacob Wenning said after the Cavaliers beat Ridgewood 1-0 on Sunday night for the state title. “We had a good ACME season so we knew we had a good team coming back and we ended up winning seven games  in a row in the playoffs. It’s going to be awesome to see that 2019 banner hanging out there and know we were a part of it.”

Wenning threw a four-hit shutout to stymie the 22nd-rated Generals while also scoring the game’s only run in the bottom of the fourth inning. The senior hit a one-out single, moved to second on a ground out and came home on a Jake Hemmelgarn base hit to left.

“Just tip your hat to a great kid who had a great career,” Coldwater coach Brian Harlamert said of Wenning. “He plays three sports, he’s all-state in three sports … it’s a bulldog thing. He wanted the ball from the first pitch on. He’s a shortstop by trade.”

Wenning showed his shortstop skills to end the game, catching a line drive with one out and the potential tying run on second base and running to the bag for a double play.

“I really never thought of myself as a pitcher until the beginning of this year,” Wenning admitted. “Our pitching coach Cory Klenke said ‘Jake you’re our number two starter now.’ I kind of had to get that mindset. Eventually, I realized I was a shortstop and a pitcher.”

The win by the fourth-ranked Cavs, which overshadowed an outstanding pitching performance by Ridgewood’s Koleten Smith who threw a three-hitter, gave Coldwater its seventh state championship, the last one coming in 2014.

“We have three guys back from last year, we replaced seven starters,” said Harlamert, whose 2018 team lost to South Range 3-2 in the D-III finals. “And we’re going to lose three guys from this year’s team. We’re going to have guys step up. The program is the kids want to work, all we do is throw balls out there and coach them up. Its practice every day, not just show up game day, It’s loving practice.”

The formula works well for a program that has now been to state 21 times, more than any other school in Ohio history.

“It’s just so sweet, but it’s not about me,” Harlamert said. “It’s we, it’s us, it’s our family, it’s our fans, it’s our old kids that came back to watch. The tradition we developed ... I’m just kind of guiding them through. It’s been a fun 22 years.”


Player of the game: Wenning is the winning pitcher and scores the only run making the Coldwater senior the obvious choice. A four-hitter with three strikeouts and one walk, Wenning threw just 68 pitches with 47 for strikes. If not for a great defensive play at third base on a backhand and throw to first by Javan Belt, Wenning would have had two hits in the game.

D-III tourney MVP: In Saturday’s semifinal, Wenning came in to record two outs in pitching the Cavs out of a jam in the third while also driving in a pair of runs and with the title-game performance is the choice over Hemmelgarn who not only drove in the only run against Ridgewood but had a hit and two RBIs in the semifinals.

Beats the rain: Once the game ended rain began as teams were given their awards. Luckily for everyone, a 71-minute game reportedly the fastest state tourney game ever, helped the game beat the rain,.

What’s next?: After never making it to state until this year, Ridgewood will be a team with a bullseye on the back in 2020 with no seniors on the roster this season. .. Coldwater is underclass dominated, though the Cavs one-two pitching punch of Cole Frilling and Wenning graduates as does leadoff hitter Austin Riethman.


Ridgewood   000 000 0 -  0 4 0
Coldwater     000 100 x - 1  3 1

Records: Coldwater 27-6, Ridgewood 24-10..

Winning Pitcher: Jacob Wenning (7 innings, 0 runs, 4 hits, 3 strikeouts, 1 walk).

Losing Pitcher: Koleten Smith (6 innings, 1 run, 3 hits, 0 strikeouts, 1 walk).

Leading Hitters: (Ridgewood) - Koleten Smith single; Kaden Smith single; Chase Minet single; Conner Kunze single. (Coldwater) - Jacob Wenning single; Jake Hemmelgarn single; Zack McKibben single.