Prep Baseball Report

OHSAA Division III State Championship - South Range vs #8 Coldwater

Bruce Hefflinger
PBR Ohio Senior Writer

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Ohio Spring baseball always seems to fly by and in 2018 that is most definitely evident with the fact we are in Columbus at beautiful Huntington Park for the State Final Four. That means the four best teams in each division will battle it out to see who is the champion.

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OHSAA DIVISION III STATE FINAL - South Range vs #8 Coldwater

COLUMBUS - The bubble never burst.

Surprising South Range, which came into the tournament with a losing record, is now a state champion. A 3-2 victory over Coldwater in the Division III state championship game sent bubbles into the air in the South Range crowd, a tradition that began along a tourney trail that ends with an 18-15 record and a gold state championship trophy.

“It’s unusual, you typically don’t see it,” South Range coach Jim Hanek said of reaching state with that kind of record. “We just tried to stay focused and believe in yourself.”

With the game deadlocked 2-2, Coldwater appeared ready to move in front for the first time in the game in the bottom of the fifth with runners on first and second and one out. Jake Wenning, who ignited a two-run fourth with a leadoff single, hit the shot of the day that ended up in the glove of a diving South Range shortstop Brandon Youngs. The senior then touched the bag at second for the inning-ending double play.

“That was huge,” Hanek said. “You can argue that they had taken the momentum and they were one hit away from taking the lead. That was a spectacular play.”

The Raiders excitement continued when Jaxon Anderson singled to the hole at short with one out in the top of the sixth and raced to third on a Kris Scandy double down the third-base line. Jared Bajerski then put South Range back in front with a sacrifice fly.

Youngs took over on the mound for starting pitcher Sam Brooks after that and proceeded to pick up the save with two innings of one-hit shutout baseball to give the Raiders the first title in school history.

“This was all uncharted territory for us once we got out of districts,” Hanek said. “It feels great to be part of a rich tradition and contribute to our athletic program.”

South Range had led 2-0 with runs in the first and third. Bajerski hit a single, stole second and came home on a Ben Rivera hit in the first and Youngs tallied the second run for the Rangers on a single, stolen base and sac fly from Jake Gehring.

Coldwater tied it in the fourth with hits from Wenning and Nathan Grunden, a run-scoring balk and a safety squeeze bunt from Seth Miller.

The Cavs had an opportunity to score again in the sixth but a double-play grounder to Gehring at short ended that threat and Youngs set Coldwater down in order to close it out in the seventh.


Player of the game: Brandon Youngs with the defensive play of the game earns the award. Add in a save plus a single and run scored in the third and Youngs was a vital part of the state title victory.

D-III tourney MVP: Take your pick. Bajerski with four hits, three runs and four stolen bases is the narrow choice over Youngs with three hits, two runs, a save and the defensive play of the final and Gehring, the pitching star in the semifinals that drove in the game-winning run in the finals.

History: Only Cincinnati Elder (12), Newark Catholic (9) and Moeller (8) have more state crowns than the six by Coldwater. Cincinnati Reading also has six titles. ...Gibsonburg in 2005 (14-17) and Bryan in 1975 (11-10) are the only state champions with worst final records than South Range.

What’s next?: Seven seniors are gone for the Cavaliers, but a deep bench as evident at state with the willingness of head coach Brian Harlamert to go to pinch hitters in key situations shows the type of program at a school that has been to state 20 times. … It may be hard to expect consecutive titles for the Raiders but, with a freshman like Gehring and other impressive underclassmen like Bajerski, Rivera and Brooks brings plenty of optimism for 2019.


South Range           101 001 0 - 3 8 0
Coldwater                000 200 0 - 2 4 0

Records: South Range 18-15, Coldwater 27-7.

Winning Pitcher: Sam Brooks (5 innings, 2 runs, 3 hits, 4 strikeouts, 2 walks). Other: Brandon Youngs.

Losing Pitcher: Cole Frilling (7 innings, 3 runs, 8 hits, 7 strikeouts, 2 walks).

Leading Hitters: (South Range) - Jared Bajerski 2 singles; Brandon Youngs single; Ben Rivera 2 singles; Jake Gehring single; Jaxon Anderson single; Kris Scandy double. (Coldwater) - Jake Wenning single; Nathan Grunden single; Cole Frilling single; Brad Giere single.