OHSAA Division IV State Semifinal - #2 Whiteoak vs #5 Hicksville


Bruce Hefflinger
PBR Ohio Senior Writer

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OHSAA Division IV State Semifinal - #2 Whiteoak vs #5 Hicksville

COLUMBUS - Jake Greer showed why he is one of the top pitchers in the state with an impressive two-hit performance to lead Hicksville past Whiteoak 4-1 in the Division IV semifinals Thursday afternoon.

The right-handed senior, who is a Sinclair commit, struck out 12 while permitting a first-inning unearned run for the Aces. On three occasions, Greer fanned the side against a Whiteoak team that had five batters hitting between .381 and .430 on the season.

The Wildcats, which had scored double-digit runs in 16 games this season, scored their only run of the game in the top of the first on a throwing error that allowed Traeten Hamilton to reach second. Two groundouts later, Hamilton scored to put Whiteoak in front 1-0.

However, Hicksville countered with two in the bottom of the inning to take the lead for good. A walk, sac bunt and Greer single put runners on the corners and Zac Brickel evened the score with a sharp hit up the middle to plate Parker Thiel. A fielder’s choice ground out by Braden Langham then brought in Greer.

The Aces added a pair of runs in the third, with a Brickel double scoring Lukas Yoder, who started the frame reaching on an error. Brickel moved to third on a passed ball and made it 4-1 on a sacrifice fly by Eric Chapman.

That was more than enough for Greer, who fanned the side on curveballs in the Whiteoak fourth and whiffed two more on curveballs to start the fifth before an 88 mph fastball closed out the fifth.

A curveball strikeout to begin the sixth made in seven consecutive Ks for Greer, who fittingly fanned the game’s final batter on an 88 mph fastball.

Outside of the Hamilton third-inning double, the only Whiteoak hit was an infield single by Mason Lehr with two outs in the seventh.

Evan Brill allowed four runs, two earned, in four innings on the hill before Hamilton threw two no-hit innings in relief with three strikeouts for the Wildcats, which had won 13 of 14 coming in.

Hot Takes

Key play: A slow roller toward the mound by Lukas Yoder resulted in a Brill throwing error to begin the Hicksville third. The Aces eventually produced two big insurance runs on one hit in the frame to give Greer a cushion.

Player of the game: A two-hitter with a dozen strikeouts makes the choice an easy one. Once Greer was able to mix in his curve with a fastball that touched 90 mph it was all but over for Whiteoak. Greer’s final year on the mound in high school ended with the senior right-hander fanning 87 in 57.2 innings.

Unsung hero: Zac Brickel not only drove in the first Hicksville run with a first-inning single, but drove in the third run with a double off the right-field wall and also scored in the third.

Experience helps: Being at state prior was a big help according to Greer, a three-hole hitter for Hicksville as a freshman. Greer also came on in relief for a shutout inning in a 5-2 semifinal loss to Western Reserve. “I was in a daze,” Greer said of the first state experience. “But that helped today. Everyone was calm. I’ve been waiting for this.”

Nine-hole hitter: Jonah Gipple has looked nothing like an end-of-the-order hitter for the Aces. A sophomore, Gipple is now 9-11 combined in two regional games plus the state semifinal contest.

Season finale: With the top four pitchers all juniors, Whiteoak will certainly be a team to watch out for in 2019. Traeton Hamilton, who set school records for runs scored and stolen bases and hit perhaps the second hardest ball of the game for a double in the third inning, is certainly a player to watch, showing next-level ability on the mound in two shutout innings of relief.

What’s next?: It was 40 years ago that Hicksville won its only state baseball title in 1978. The Aces are now just one win away from doing it again.

Linescore

Whiteoak         100 000 0 - 1 2 2
Hicksvillle        202 000 x - 4 5 1

Records: Hicksville 21-5, Whiteoak 28-3

Winning Pitcher: Jake Greer (7 innings, 1 run, 0 earned runs, 2 hits, 12 strikeouts, 1 walk).

Losing Pitcher: Evan Brill (4 innings, 4 runs, 2 earned runs, 5 hits, 2 strikeouts, 1 walk). Other: Traeten Hamilton.

Leading Hitters: (Hicksville) - Jake Greer single; Zac Brickel single, double, 2 RBIs; Jonah Gipple 2 singles. (Whiteoak) - Traeten Hamilton double; Mason Lehr single.