2021 OHSAA Tournament: Division I State Semifinal - No. 2 Walsh Jesuit vs No. 11 New Albany

Dylan Hefflinger and Bruce Hefflinger
PBR Ohio Editor in Chief/NW Scout and Senior Writer

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2021 OHSAA Tournament: Division I State Semifinal - No. 2 Walsh Jesuit vs No. 11 New Albany

AKRON - How do you top beating the number one team in Ohio in the regional finals? Knock off number two in the state semifinals to earn a berth in the Division I championship game. That is just what New Albany did on Saturday night with a 6-2 win over Walsh Jesuit.

The victory has the Eagles taking on Cincinnati Elder in the 7 p.m. finals on Sunday.

New Albany broke a 2-2 tie with four runs in the fourth and that held up against the talented Warriors from Walsh Jesuit.

Brock Tibbitts roped a two-run double with two outs to put New Albany in front in the fourth before Ian Hoff and AC Clouse each added to the lead with RBI singles.

Three New Albany pitchers made the advantage stand up to help the 11th-ratted D-I team in the state improve to 28-5 on the year.

Hoff picked up the victory allowing one earned run on three hits in 4.1 innings before Andrew Trybus and Brady Conley combined to toss 2.2 frames of one-hit shutout ball.

Walsh Jesuit took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first on an error, walk, bunt single, sacrifice fly and another bunt hit, but the Warriors managed just two base hits the remainder of the game in ending the season at 26-4.

New Albany tallied one in the first on an Andrew Ecleberry infield single, a stolen base and a run-producing hit to left by Tibbitts.

The Eagles then knotted the game at two in the third on an RBI double to right-center by Oliver Cush to plate Eli Henderson who opened the frame with a single.

Three Walsh Jesuit pitchers combined to strike out 12 while giving up just two earned runs in defeat.


PLAYER OF THE GAME: Three-hole hitter Tibbitts drove in three runs alone, equaling the total of runs scored by Walsh Jesuit opponents in five previous tournament contests. The Indiana commit also sparkled behind the plate to aid his three teammate pitchers on the evening.

CATCHING CLINIC: Tibbits and Walsh Jesuit catcher Mason Eckelman put on a clinic behind the dish, displaying why each is a Division I college commit. The ability to block balls in the dirt can only give confidence to pitchers when it comes to throwing any pitch in any location in any count.

MAGIC MOMENT: The top of the fifth inning was a perfect example why baseball is special. While the tension in most other sports comes at the end of a game, in baseball it can happen at any time. It took place in Saturday’s late game in the fifth when Walsh Jesuit loaded the bases with two outs and the cleanup hitter at the plate. With everyone on their feet and the crowd from both sides roaring with a full-count on the batter, Trybus recorded a called third strike. The electricity at the stadium was hard to top.

RELIEF HELP: Trybus entered with two on and one away and the Warriors in the meat of the order in that eventful fifth inning. But the emotional left-hander sandwiched a walk around a pair of called third strikes. The junior went on to fan one more in the sixth before Conley struck out a pair in the seventh. Hoff did not record a K in his 4.1 innings as a starter.

DEFENSE ON DISPLAY: Two defensive plays were huge in the victory. With a man on first and no outs in the fifth, Conley bare-handed an Andrew Gormley bunt toward third and fired a strike to first for the bang-bang out in an inning that Walsh Jesuit left the bases loaded. Two innings prior, New Albany center fielder Ecleberry made arguably the defensive play of the tournament so far, racing far to his right to make a diving catch of a line shot by Henry Kaczmar leading off the third.

WHAT’S UP NEXT?: While New Albany goes for the second state title in school history, Walsh Jesuit can only look ahead to 2022. Few teams will be as loaded as the Warriors next season with four sophomores and three juniors in the lineup on Saturday and a host of others with next-level talent on the bench.


Walsh Jesuit        200 000 0 - 2 4 1
New Albany          101 400 X - 6 7 1

Records: New Albany 28-5, Walsh Jesuit 26-4

Winning Pitcher: Ian Hoff (4.1 innings, 2 runs, 1 ER, 3 hits, 0 strikeouts, 2 walks). Other: Andrew Trybus (1.2 innings, 0 hits, 0 runs, 3 strikeouts, 1 walk), Brady Conley (1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 2 strikeout, 0 walks).

Losing Pitcher: Ryan Piech (3.1 innings, 4 runs, 2 ER, 4 hits, 7 strikeouts, 4 walks). Other: Andrew Gormley (0.2 innings, 2 runs, 0 ER, 3 hits, 1 strikeout, 1 walk), Erik Stern (2 innings, 0 runs, 0 hits, 4 strikeouts, 0 walks).

Leading Hitters: (Walsh Jesuit) - Jake Armsey double; Erik Stern single; Joey Canzoni single, Mark Serdinak single. (New Albany) - Andrew Ecleberry single; Eli Henderson single; Brock Tibbitts single, double; Oliver Cush double; Ian Hoff single; AC Clouse single.

2021 Spring High School Season Content

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To view the Tournament Scoreboard, click here.

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To view the 2021 Ohio Spring Scout Blog, click below:

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