2022 OHSAA Tournament: Division III State Semifinal - No. 4 Liberty Union vs No. 7 Waynedale


Dylan Hefflinger and Bruce Hefflinger
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2022 OHSAA Tournament: Division III State Semifinal - No. 4 Liberty Union vs No. 7 Waynedale

AKRON - Jacob Miller came into the Division III state semifinals with well-deserved hype. But on this day, Trey Barkman was up to the challenge in outdueling the top-ranked player in the state leading Apple Creek Waynedale past Liberty Union 4-3 on Thursday at Canal Park.

The junior right-hander took a 4-2 lead into the seventh before the Lions put the first two batters on, ending the afternoon for Barkman to a standing ovation from the Waynedale fans. Otto Solorzano came in relief and two bunts later Liberty Union had runners on second and third before an infield single cut the deficit to one.

After a stolen base put the potential game-winning run on second, the sophomore left-hander recorded a strikeout to advance the fourth-rated team in the state to Saturday’s 1 p.m. championship game.

Miller, who had given up just two earned runs all year in posting a 0.269 ERA, had that total double when Waynedale broke a scoreless battle with two in the fourth. Jay Mast walked, one of five by Miller, and Timmy Short followed with a triple to right before scoring on a wild pitch. 

Liberty Union loaded the bases with one away after pulling within 2-1 in the last of the fourth, but Barkman wiggled out of the jam inducing a pop out before a strikeout ended the threat.

Waynedale countered with two unearned runs in the fifth off Miller without the benefit of a hit and it stayed that way until the seventh.

State runners-up in 2016, Waynedale, the seventh-ranked D-IV team in Ohio, will be after the first state title in school history.

HOT TAKES

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Barkman impressed, allowing just one earned run on two hits with seven strikeouts and two walks in six-plus innings on the mound. The hard-throwing right-hander topped out at 88 with his fastball in moving to 10-1 on the season.

HOT STICK: Josiah Raber, who had four hits in the regional final, continued his outstanding showing at the dish with three hits and a walk, reaching base on all three plate appearances against Miller, who reached 97 with his fastball. The left-handed hitting Raber, who bats in the two-hole, is a Tiffin football commit.

CLASS MOVE: Liberty Union head coach Justin Miller - no relation to his starting pitcher - took his ace hurler out after striking out the leadoff hitter to open the sixth at 107 pitches. Hugs were given and the Liberty Union fans gave a large ovation to the projected early MLB Draft pick, who raised his hat in appreciation to the Liberty Union faithful.

WHAT’S NEXT: After reaching state for the first time since 1962, Liberty Union will be in a rebuilding year ahead with the loss of six starters to graduation including the top two hurlers - Miller and Jon Wheeler. Leadoff hitter Cayden Carroll, who had two hits in the game, will lead the way with Colton Hutchison, who pitched 1.2 shutout innings out of the bullpen, being counted on as a key pitcher.

LiNESCORE

Apple Creek Waynedale   000  220  0  -  4  6  3
Liberty Union                    
000  110  1  -  3  3  1

Records: Waynedale 26-4, Liberty Union 25-6.

Winning Pitcher: Trey Barkman  (6 innings, 3 runs, 1 earned run, 2 hits, 7 strikeouts, 2 walks). Other: Otto Solorzano (1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 1 strikeout, 0 walks).

Losing Pitcher: Jacob Miller (5.1 innings, 4 runs, 2 earned runs, 4 hits, 10 strikeouts, 5 walks). Other: Colton Hutchison (1.2 innings, 0 runs, 2 hits, 3 strikeouts, 0 walks).

Leading Hitters: (Waynedale) - Dylan Raber single; Josiah Raber 3 singles, run; Jay Mast run; Timmy Short triple, run, RBI; Connor Gatti RBI; Ean Miller triple; Trey Barkman run. (Liberty Union) - Cayden Carroll single, double, run, RBI; Jacob Miller RBI; Trevor Wood run; Austin McClure double, run.

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