2022 OHSAA Tournament: Division I State Semifinal - No. 2 Mason vs No. 10 Grove City


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

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2022 OHSAA Tournament: Division I State Semifinal - No. 2 Mason vs No. 10 Grove City

AKRON - Grove City came out quickly to grab an early lead and went on to knock off Mason 4-1 behind the four-hit pitching of Keegan Holmstrom in the Division I state semifinals at Canal Park on Friday.’

Four consecutive hits led to one first-inning run by the Greyhounds and the 10th-rated team in Ohio put up a three-spot in the second featuring two hits, a walk and a pair of Mason errors for a 4-0 advantage.

Holmstrom made it stand up with a complete game effort to send Grove City to the 4 p.m. state title game on Saturday against Northview.

Back-to-back doubles by Jackson Ware and Dennis Ritlinger-Nirider gave the Greyhounds a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first before a Trent Ruffing squeeze bunt made it 2-0 in the second. A single by Holmstrom and a Mason error upped the advantage to 3-0 and an RBi single from Ware increased the lead to 4-0.

Kevin West gave the Comets their lone run of the game in the fifth. The senior lined a double to left-center and one out later stole third before coming home on a sacrifice fly by AJ Lofton.

The top three batters in the Grove City lineup - Holmstrom, Ware and Ritlinger-Nirider - all finished with two hits off of Mason lefty Brenden Garula, a Cincinnati commit who came into the game at 9-0 with a 1.02 ERA.

HOT TAKES

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Holmstrom did a little bit of everything for Grove City, pitching, hitting and fielding in arguably the best performance of the tournament to date. On the mound, the sophomore fanned six and walked three in his four-hit effort. At the plate, the left-handed hitting leadoff batter had two singles, scored a run and was hit by a pitch, lining out in his first AB. Not to be forgotten, the athletic southpaw fielded a bunt down the third-base line with two on and nobody out in the sixth and made the quick throw to third for an out.

SMALL BALL: The bunt game was a major part of the Grove City success. After two bunt singles in the first by Zak Sigman and Braxton Bryant, a sac bunt in the second by Spencer Stoll turned into a fielding error and the Greyhounds were in business for what turned into a four-run frame. The squeeze bunt by Ruffing followed. 

OPPORTUNITIES LOST: Mason put the leadoff batter on base four times in the game and in two of the other three innings the second hitter reached base. Yet, if not for the steal of third by West the Comets may not have scored a run against Holmstrom.

WHAT’S NEXT: The loss of one-two pitchers Garula (Cincinnati) and Noah Samol (Georgia Tech) along with second baseman AJ Lofton (Thomas Jefferson), catcher Brady Bly (Charleston) and center fielder Kevin West are major holes to fill for Mason. But with three sophomore starters including Indiana commit JakeHanley and Auburn recruit Mark Rutherford and juniors Michael Murphy and Sean Krueckeberg among the returning players, the second-ranked team in Ohio will certainly be a contener once again under head coach Curt Bly.

LiNESCORE

Mason          000  010  0  -  2  4  2
Grove City   130  000  x  -  4  8  1

Records: Grove City 26-7, Mason 27-5.

Winning Pitcher: Keegan Holmstrom (7 innings, 1 run, 4 hits, 6 strikeouts, 3 walks).

Losing Pitcher: Brenden Garula (5.2 innings, 4 runs 2 earned runs, 8 hits, 3 strikeouts, 1 walk). Other: Michael Murphy (0.1 innings, 0 runs, 0 hits, 1 strikeout, 0 walks).

Leading Hitters: (Mason) - Brenden Garula single; AJLefton RBI; Michael Murphy single; Sean Krueckeberg single; Kevin West double, run. (Grove City) - Keegan Holmstrom 2 singles, run; Jackson Ware single, double, run, RBI; Dennis Ritlinger-Nirider single, double, RBI; Zak Sigman single; Braxton Bryant single; Braylon Boggs run; Spencer Stoll run; Trent Ruffing RBI.

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