Division II State Preview

By Dylan Hefflinger



No. 9 West Holmes (23-6) vs. No. 6 Wapakoneta (24-5) 10 a.m. Thursday

No. 9 Millersburg West Holmes is returning to state for the first time since 1966. The Knights, which have recorded the most wins in school history, captured its first district title in 46 years by beating No. 4 Cambridge. The Knights then cruised past Washington C.H. Miami Trace 12-0 before defeating No. 2 Richmond Edison 3-1 to claim the Regional championship. Junior lefty Gabe Snyder is the Knights ace on the mound, while talented sophomore Dillon Baird is second in line, each with an ERA less than 1.00. Baird, the Ohio Cardinal Conference pitcher of the year, was a winner in relief in the Regional finals, pitching for the first time since being injured May 2. West Holmes has only permitted three runs in the tournament.

No. 6 Wapakoneta stunned No. 1 Defiance (30-2) 6-1 to claim a Regional championship for the first time in school history. The Redskins also defeated No. 3 Bellevue 4-1 in the district finals. The Redskins have a talented young team that features no seniors. However, they do feature one of the top juniors in the state in Johnny Crawford, who went on a streak of 45 1/3 straight scoreless innings. Crawford is 9-0 on the season allowing just three earned runs all season, 0.37 ERA, while striking out 73 in 56 innings. Wapak's number two pitcher is sophomore Chace Culver, who is extremely talented. Culver threw a five-hitter against Bellevue to capture the district title and limited Defiance to just one run on eight hits, while striking out eight to claim the Regional championship. Culver is 5-3 on the season, striking out 47 in 49 1/3 innings. Two-hole hitter Josh Apple (.383) is a leader from the shortstop position. Other top hitters are junior right fielder Dom Campos (.442), sophomore DH Chandler Kaeck (.437), second baseman junior Alex Koch (.362), junior first baseman Brandon Miller (.362) and talented junior catcher Brandon Schreiber (.303, sub 2.1 pop time). Wapak boasts a team batting average of .320.

No. 5 Columbus St. Francis DeSales (25-6) vs. Mentor Lake Catholic (19-10) 1 p.m. Thursday

No. 5 Columbus St. Francis DeSales is returning to State after winning the championship last season. Ohio Northern recruit Nick Eltzroth hit and pitched the defending state champs to state. DeSales won a thriller over No. 19 Bellefontaine 8-7 (11 innings) before claiming the Regional championship with a 3-0 victory over Cincinnati Wyoming. Eltzroth is 4-1 on the season with a 0.87, fanning 46 and walking 12 on the season. Eltzroth is also batting .421 with 12 doubles and 26 RBI. Eastern Kentucky recruit TJ Alas is 8-0 on the season with a 1.66 ERA, striking out 40. Alas, who is batting .458 with 20 doubles and 34 RBI, threw a five-hitter to beat Wyoming. Lake Erie recruit Zack DeCamp is a power hitting third baseman with a .422 BA and six home runs, seven doubles, five triples and 40 RBI. Nine-hole hitter Derek Traini has a .361 BA with eight doubles and 21 RBI. Ohio Wesleyan recruit Jack Miller is a talented catcher for DeSales with a .313 BA.

Mentor Lake Catholic, thought to be in a rebuilding year after starting the season 1-4, returns to State for only the second time in school history, the first coming in 1987. The Cougars defeated No. 16 Tallmadge 5-4 and No. 18 Canfield 4-3 to claim the Regional championship under veteran coach Dennis Woods, who has been coaching for 44 years. Lake Catholic is led by three-year letterwinners left-handed ace Joey Samuele (8-2) and catcher/first basemen Lou Peterlin (.493 BA). Junior Jake Courtot is batting .400 on the season. Zach Hawkins had a two-run walk-off homer with two outs in the bottom of the seventh to rally Lake Catholic by Canfield 4-3 after Trevor Boslett capped a three-run seventh inning with a two-out walk-off single in the win over Tallmadge.