2022 OHSAA Tournament: Division I State Semifinal - No. 24 Northview vs No. 27 Kenston


Dylan Hefflinger and Bruce Hefflinger
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2022 OHSAA Tournament: Division I State Semifinal - No. 24 Northview vs No. 27 Kenston

AKRON - A wild pitch with the bases loaded and two away in the bottom of the seventh inning gave Northview a 3-2 win over Kenston in the Division I state semifinals on Friday morning at Canal Park.

After a putout at home plate with runners on second and third and the infield drawn in, Kenston elected to walk Riley Ames, who had ripped the ball on all three at-bats, to fill the bases. But the first pitch to three-hole hitter Brody Acres was in the dirt and got past Kenston catcher L.A. Mighton allowing pinch runner Adyen Hall to score the winning run.

It brought a dramatic ending to a game that began as a near-nightmare first inning for both pitchers. However, each starter settled down with Northview’s Garrett Zimmermann going the distance tossing a two-hitter while Jake Vasil went all the way without permitting an earned run.

Kenston took a 1-0 lead in the first on a bases-loaded walk to Parker Munday but Northview rebounded with two in the bottom of the inning on a double by Ames, a single by Acres, a costly error and a run-scoring single by Benny Crooks.

It stayed that way until Kenston tied the game on a balk when Northview attempted a hidden-ball trick with Carter Flynn on third base after opening the inning with a single, just the second hit of the game for the 27th-rated team in the state.

But Northview won it in the seventh. A throwing error allowed Alex Prymus to reach first and Garrett Draper followed with a bunt single when it was ruled Draper beat Vasil to the bag. A sac bunt by Braden Tackett moved runners up a base, but when Prymus was thrown out at the plate on a grounder to Flynn at short, the Bombers were one out away from getting out of the inning.

Instead, the 24th-ranked team in Division I is headed to the 4 p.m. state finals on Saturday against the winner of Mason and Grove City in the first appearance ever in the Final Four.

HOT TAKES

PLAYER OF THE GAME: After throwing 31 pitches in the first inning, there appeared to be little chance of Zimmermann going the distance let alone being the Player of the Game. But the Northview senior right-hander was just that, taking a no-hitter into the fifth and allowing just two in the game while striking out four and walking four.

BIG INNING: The top of the first proved to be the key to victory for Zimmermann and the Wildcats. A throwing error to start the game was followed by two walks to fill the bases with nobody down for Kenston. After a strikeout, another free pass put Kenston up 1-0 with the bases still juiced. However, a double-play ground out ended the potential big inning and only four more Kenston batters reached base in the game.

HUGE PLAYS: Two plays stood out helping Northview prevail. The initial one came in the bottom of the first with runners on first and second, when an errant throw on a potential 4-6-3 double-play ground ball resulted in a run when Ames raced home from second. The other came with the Wildcats on defense in the fourth. After a hit-by-pitch, a sac bunt appeared to put a runner on second with one down for Kenston, but Northview first baseman Alex Dupree alertly fired the ball to Acres at short when the runner rounded second too far. Credit on that play also goes to Draper at catcher, who hustled to cover third base with third sacker Blake Bradford charging on the bunt.  

WHAT’S NEXT: Just a 17-seed entering the tournament, the run to state could just be the start for Kenston which had only four senior starters. Mighton at catcher, Drew McKennaat at first base and Munday at center field and pitcher headline the returning players for Joe Hritz, the first-year Kenston head coach who led the Bombers to state for the first time ever at the school.

LiNESCORE

Kenston       100  010  0  -  2  2  2
Northview    200  000  1  -  3  5  1

Records: Northview 20-8, Kenston 19-8.

Winning Pitcher: Garrett Zimmerman (7 innings, 2 runs, 1 earned run, 2 hits, 4 strikeouts, 4 walks).

Losing Pitcher: Jake Vasil (6.2 innings, 3 runs 0 earned runs, 5 hits, 10 strikeouts, 2 walks).

Leading Hitters: (Kenston) - L.A. Mighton run; Parker Munday single, RBI; Carter Flynn single, run. (Northview) - Riley Ames single, double, run, Brody Acres single, run; Benny Crooks single, RBI; Garrett Draper single; Adyen Hall run.

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