Prep Baseball Report

2019 OHSAA Tournament: Division IV State Final - No. 5 Toronto vs 1 Hillsdale

Bruce Hefflinger
PBR Ohio Senior Writer

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AKRON - While his future in baseball is likely at shortstop, Nate Karaffa can obviously pitch.

The Ohio State commit showed it on Sunday when the senior right-hander threw a two-hitter to lead Toronto past top-ranked Hillsdale 3-1 in the Division IV state championship game at Canal Park.

“Nate’s been doing that all year for us,” Toronto coach Brian Perkins said. “What a performance. We knew when he got on the hill he was going to go seven and he was going to put us into the championship.”

Karaffa struck out a dozen and did not walk a batter, though he did hit three batters in the complete-game outing.

“I knew my defense had my back and I trust them to make plays,” explained Karaffa, who used strictly a fastball and curve in the 96-pitch outing in which he threw 72 strikes. “They can really hit the ball, they have some really talented players on that team. We just stayed with our game plan.”

Scoreless through two, the fifth-rated Red Knights tallied a pair of runs in the third inning. After the first two batters were retired, the top of the Toronto order produced with four consecutive singles from Nick Chetock, Lucas Gulczynski, Karaffa and Nick Sninchak.

“Any time you can get a lead that takes the pressure off the kids,” Perkins pointed out. “To get that early two ... Nate was really cruising on the mound, and that settled our team down and we were able to scratch another run across.”

That came in the seventh after Hillsdale had trimmed the lead in half with a run in the sixth when Carsten Betson was hit by a pitch and came home all the way from first on a two-out double by Briar Funk.

However, Toronto countered with one in the seventh on a Sninchak RBI single that plated Chetock on a close play at home..

“We have 51 kids in our graduation class that love Toronto and they love baseball,” Perkins said after the Red Knights captured the second state title ever at the school, the other coming in 1998. “That combination makes us successful.”


Players of the game: Karaffa certainly gets kudos for throwing a two-hitter against a team that came to state scoring 11.2 runs per game with a .388 batting average. But not to be overlooked is Sninchak, the Cuyahoga CC commit who had two singles, a double and drove in a pair of runs batting behind Karaffa in the Toronto batting order

D-IV tourney MVP: Karaffa not only shined in the title game, but the senior was outstanding in the semifinals to finish the tourney 6-for-8 at the plate with three RBIs and two runs scored,  

Key to game: Karaffa got out of a pair of threats late in the game to keep momentum on the side of the Red Devils. WIth two on and one out in the fifth, a strikeout and foul out got Toronto out of the jam. An inning later with the tying run on second base after the Funk RBI double, Karaffa induced a grounder to second base to end the threat.

Big loss: Although Garrett Goodwin threw a complete game, the senior going to Shawnee State was not at full strength after injuring his left ankle on Friday while celebrating the 1-0 semifinal win over Minster. The leadoff hitter for the Falcons, who is second on the team with a .443 batting average, was batted for in the game, forcing head coach Jason Snow to move seven-hole batter Evan Rottman to the top of the order.

What’s next?: Five juniors and a sophomore started in the title game for Hillsdale, but Goodwin and Wright State signee Jay Luikart will be tough to replace. ... The junior quartet of catcher Tristan Thomas, first baseman Zac Berger, pitcher/outfielder AJ Clegg and shortstop Brendan Matyas will have to be leaders for a Toronto program that will miss the top five batters in the lineup that had all 10 of the team’s hits in the championship game.


Toronto       002 000 1 - 3  10 1

Hillsdale      000 001 0 - 1  2 1

Records: Toronto 26-5, Hillsdale 28-3.

Winning Pitcher: Nate Karaffa (7 innings, 1 run, 2 hits, 12 strikeouts, 0 walks, 3 HBP).

Losing Pitcher: Garrett Goodwin  (7 innings, 3 runs, 10 hits, 4 strikeouts, 2 walks).

Leading Hitters: (Toronto) - Nick Chetock single, 2 runs; Lucas Gulczynski 2 singles; Nate Karaffa 3 singles; Nick Sninchak 2 singles, double, 2 RBIs; Kobe Herrick single. (Hillsdale) - Jay Luikart single; Briar Funk double.