Prep Baseball Report

Division IV State Preview

By Dylan Hefflinger



No. 2 Tinora (27-3) vs. No. 6 Minster (24-6) 4 p.m. Friday

No. 2 Defiance Tinora is back at state for the second year in a row, but first in Division IV. Unsigned senior Tyler McKenney has been dominant on the mound with a 10-0 record and 0.88 ERA. Sophomores Clay Pittman (.574, 45 RBI) and Derek Drewes (.461, 32 RBI, 20 extra base hits) are the top hitters for head coach Brent Renollet, who led Tinora to its first state appearance in school history last year. Seniors Austin Farrington (.386, 22 stolen bases), Chris Wityk (.392) and Nate Beck (.372, 31 RBI) are other key performers for the Rams, which rolled in the regionals past Gibsonburg 9-0 and Leipsic 10-2. Sophomore lefty Reid Renollet, the coach's son who also plays center, is 6-0 with a 1.93 ERA while also hitting .333.

No. 6 Minster has one of the top juniors in the state in Adam Niemeyer. The right-hander is 5-0 on the season with a 0.00 ERA and 76 strikeouts in 45 2/3 innings of work, but is battling an injury and not likely to pitch at state. Niemeyer is batting .429, Andrew Knapke .353, Jay Ellerman .349, Doug Huber .337 and Devon Poeppelman .330 for the defending Division IV state champs. Doug Huber was the winning pitcher in both regional wins (5-2, 1.50 ERA) while Austin Knapke (8-2, 1.60 ERA) also pitched in both games. Huber, Poeppelman, Niemeyer, Ryan Hoying and Austin Knapke were all starters on last year's title team .

No. 15 Berlin Hiland (25-4) vs. No. 13 Cuyahoga Heights (23-4) 7 p.m. Friday

No. 15 Hiland is back at state for the third time in school history, finishing second in 2000 and 2008. Hiland is slugging its way through the tournament, which includes a 13-3 victory in the Regional semis over Lucasville Valley and  a 15-hit 16-2 victory over No. 5 ranked Steubenville Central Catholic in the districts. Hiland beat Ohio State-bound pitcher Jimmy Lough of Newark Catholic in the ninth inning of the Regional finals. The Hawks have outscored opponents 65-12 during its tournament run. Hiland, batting .370 as a team, is led by Dylan Kauffman, a two-time Division IV basketball player of the year who is hitting .450. B.J. Miller leads the team in home runs and RBI while racking up a 5-0 record on the mound. Luke Burch is 3-0 (16 Ks, 9 BB) while also batting .364 while other top players are lead-off hitter Grant Troyer (.400) and shortstop Kevin Schrock (.370.)

No. 13 Cuyahoga Heights has won 10 games in a row, including an 11-0 whipping of New Middletown Springfield in the Regional semis. The Redskins went on to pound Seneca East 9-0 in the finals. Cuyahoga Heights has now outscored the opposition 47-8 in the tournament and 271-58 on the season. Seniors Austin Lane (8-0, 1.45 ERA, 55 Ks) and Alex Zander (7-1, 0.83, 59 Ks) are a strong one-two punch for the Redskins, and also two of the top hitters on the team, Lane (.437, 4 triples, 25 RBI) and Zander (.361). Other top hitters include senior Andrew Tesler (.432, 5 triples, 2 homers, 35 runs, 34 RBI), senior Troy Janashak (.400, 5 triples, 3 homers, 39 runs, 33 RBI) and junior Jason Kleppel (.381) for head coach Marc Lowther.