Middleton happy to stay near home at Ohio State

Bruce Hefflinger
PBR Ohio Editor In Chief/Scout

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Middleton happy to stay near home at Ohio State

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Jace Middleton RHP / OF / Olentangy, OH / 2021

OLENTANGY - The third-rated player in Ohio’s 2021 class nearly quit baseball in third grade.

“That was the first year kids could pitch and I got hit three times by the same kid,” Jace Middleton reflected. “I was terrified of the ball and hated baseball.”

Luckily that did not last.

“My travel coach Fred Zabonik offered me $100 to play the next year,” Middleton remembered. “He said my parents overpaid by $100 and I fell for it.”

Years later college coaches were falling for Middleton, currently ranked the 30th best right-handed sophomore pitcher in the country. Ohio schools quickly moved to the front of Middleton’s list with the Olentangy 10th-grader narrowing it down to Ohio State, Cincinnati and Wright State before making a commitment.

“I made my own list to see what I felt toward each school,” the 6-4 200-pounder noted.

In the end, the Buckeyes won out and Middleton committed to the Big 10 school.

“Ohio State is the heart of Ohio,” Middleton explained. “The campus is beautiful and I love that it’s close to home. I loved the coaches at Cincinnati and Wright State, but I felt more of a connection with the coaches at Ohio State. It felt like home.”

Interest had been there for some time.

“They first saw me at a PBR event (Underclass Trials I in July of 2017) at Ohio State,” Middleton said. “After that they invited me to a recruiting day last winter. (Pitching) Coach (Mike) Stafford came out to see me pitch a few times and they offered me in late August or September.”

It had to bring some joy to the Middleton household.

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