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2023 OHSAA Tournament Wrap-up: Another Memorable State Tournament

Bruce Hefflinger
PBR Ohio Senior Writer

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2023 OHSAA Final Four Wrap-up: Another Memorable Tournament

AKRON - Now that the 95th annual Ohio High School State Baseball Tournament is in the books, it’s time to look back at the event and touch on a few things that stood out during the three days of action at Canal Park.

While the air quality in many states have been an issue of late, the quality of games at this year’s state tourney certainly were not. If you like close contests, the state tournament was the place for you.

Arguably, there has never been a semifinal round like the 2023 event.

Just look at these scores:

  • Division I: 2-0 and 3-2 (9)
  • Division IV: 1-0 (8) and 4-1 (8)
  • Division II: 2-1 and 4-2
  • Division III: 6-2 and 2-1

Amazing … Six of the eight games were decided by one or two runs, and the other two games were tied one inning before the final frame.

While the finals were not as tight, all but one of the four games was in doubt entering the fifth inning, the exception being the tournament finale between Harrison Central and Waynedale.

A little more insight on the scores, with the number seven coming up frequently … 

  • Seven of the 12 winners had not scored a run entering the fourth inning of play.
  • Only seven of the 12 winners were ahead after five innings.
  • Of the 12 teams to score first, just seven won the game.
  • In three of the eight semifinal games, the winning team was behind entering inning number seven. Orange and Hiland both trailed 1-0 but scored in the seventh and went on to win in extra innings. Kenston was down 2-0 but put four on the board in the top of the seventh to rally past Chaminade Julienne.
  • The 12 combined runs in the three Division I games is the lowest total in tournament history. The previous low was 15 set in 2014 when Massillon Jackson beat Moeller and Massillon Jackson to take the D-I crown.
  • The 14 runs by Hiland is the most ever scored in a Division IV title game and tied the highest run total ever in D-IV since the change from A-AA-AAA in 1991. Crestline had 14 in the Division IV semifinals in 1994. The last time anyone scored 14 or more in the state finals was Moeller in 2015 when Tim Held’s squad beat Westerville Central 16-0. 

HITTING: Out of the last nine innings over the two tournament games, Hiland scored in eight and also had at least one hit in eight of those nine frames. … Waynedale finished with 23 hits in the tournament. In contrast, there were 29 combined hits in the three D-II games and 32 in D-I. … Surprisingly, just three losing teams left more runners on base than the winning team. Orange left 12 on and Harrison Central nine and won in the state semis while Waynedale had 10 and Hiland nine LOB in the finals and came out on top.

PITCHING: Talk about strong pitching, in 14 innings Moeller allowed just one run. It was also the lone inning that pitchers for the top-ranked team in Ohio gave up more than one hit. … An astounding 14 of the 24 final scores by each team found squads scoring two or fewer runs. In fact, four of the dozen winners had two or less runs at game’s end. … Half of the teams had five or fewer hits in the 12 state games. … There were 11 complete games pitched in the 12 state contests. Of the 24 starting pitchers, 15 threw six or more innings. Five starters did not give up an earned run.

DEFENSE: Three of the four state champions did not commit an error in the title game. An error by Hiland leading off the bottom of the third was the lone miscue by a title-game winner. … There were two games where neither team had an error, Heath-Harrison in the D-III semis and Ontario-Kenston in the D-II finals. … Talk about flawless, Moeller did not commit an error in either game. With 13 strikeouts, that means opponents put the ball in play 29 times and the Crusaders fielded everyone cleanly.

STANDOUTS ON D: While it is hard to mention them all, here are some of the defenders that stood out (this includes watching them in warmups) during the tournament:

  • Division I - Moeller shortstop Charlie Niehaus, Moeller catcher Nathan Manley, Moeller right fielder Conlan Daniel, Orange shortstop Charlie Scholivin, Orange third baseman Keegan Knupp, Walsh Jesuit catcher Mason Eckelman, Walsh Jesuit left fielder Justin Bremner, Anthony Wayne shortstop Bryce Anderson.
  • Division II - Kenston first baseman Drew McKenna, Ontario left fielder Caden Boebel, Ontario center fielder Peyton Dzugan, C-J shortstop JP Peltier, Court House shortstop John Wall, Court House center fielder AJ Dallmayer.
  • Division III - Waynedale catcher Tristan Franks, Waynedale shortstop Dylan Raber, Harrison Central third baseman Jace Madzia, Harrison Central shortstop Kaden Jurosko, Ottawa Hills pitcher Sebastian Stevens, Heath pitcher Tannar Patterson.
  • Division IV - Hiland first baseman Grady Monigold, Hiland MIF Alec Weaver, Russia center fielder Zane Shappie, Calvert shortstop Nick Palm, Calvert center fielder Caden Otterbacher, St. Henry center fielder Hayden Boeckman.

MORE NUMBERS: The state title for Moeller was the ninth in school history, tying Newark Catholic for second all-time in Ohio behind 12 by Elder … Head coach Tim Held has now led Moeller to five state championships, the others in 2009, 2012, 2013 and 2015. … With back-to-back crowns, Waynedale tied 14 other schools accomplishing that feat to trail only Newark Catholic and Elder with three straight championships. … Waynedale junior left-hander Otto Solorzano has now pitched in three state tournament games allowing two runs in 15 innings while permitting just one walk, that being an intentional free pass to Treston Nemeth in the first inning of Saturday’s finals. Solorzano now has two wins and a save in those three appearances. … Waynedale senior Dylan Raber had four hits in the championship game, five in the tournament and going back to last year produced at least one hit in all four games at state. The Waynedale leadoff hitter finished 8-for-16 at the plate in those four wins.

CLOSING TIME: Kudos to the many great crowds at the tournament, topped off by the Waynedale vs. Harrison Central and Kenston vs. Ontario state title games. Russia against Hiland also had a strong fan base with the student section for Walsh Jesuit another that stood out. … Looking ahead to next season, the preseason rankings are nine months away. If you are a fan of rankings, check out what Prep Baseball Report had this season. The preseason rankings had eventual state champions Moeller and Waynedale ranked first, Kenston second and Hiland fourth. Among the runners-up teams, Russia was preseason number one, Harrison Central sixth and Orange seventh. … Next year’s state tournament is set for Canal Park June 6-8. See you then.

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