HUDSON — It could have been much worse.
Despite its sparkling record and No. 7 ranking in the Prep Baseball Report Division I state poll, the Wadsworth baseball team wasn’t oblivious to the obvious Monday: It was a decided underdog against top-ranked Walsh Jesuit in the Hudson D-I District semifinals.
The Warriors had undefeated Missouri recruit Ty Shoaff on the mound, Ohio State recruit Ryan Feltner and Tiffin-bound closer Tim Benner in the bullpen and future Buckeyes middle infielder Nate Romans leading the lineup.
While Shoaff and Benner dominated at times, the “other” names did most of the offensive damage as Walsh Jesuit won 9-3 and advanced to face second-seeded Hudson for the championship today.
“I don’t think we played our best baseball,” Wadsworth coach Greg Pickard said. “The good thing is we can hopefully use this as a learning experience. A lot of my guys come back next year.”
The third-seeded Grizzlies (21-2) were outhit 16-2 and only used ace Nick Bebout (6-1, 1.39) for one-third of an inning because he pitched seven in a 4-0 win over Medina on Friday. Ohio High School Athletic Association rules state a pitcher is not permitted to throw more than 10 innings in a 72 hour window.
Sophomore Cameron Deemer (3-1, 1.40 ERA) allowed five runs on eight hits over 3⅔ innings. Senior reliever Eric Perebzak kept Wadsworth afloat long enough to cut the deficit to 6-3, but three runs by the Warriors (26-0) in the bottom of the sixth erased all doubt.
Walsh Jesuit’s Nos. 5, 6 and 8 hitters — Dom Mittiga, Connor Regan and Riley Minorik — were a combined 11-for-11 with two RBIs, while No. 3 man Blake Jenkins drove in runs on a groundout, sacrifice fly and single.
Romans and Feltner were a combined 1-for-7 due in large part to diving stops by Wadsworth first baseman Kyle Pennington. The Warriors also stranded 10 runners and brought in Ohio Wesleyan commit Trevor Ray to pinch hit and sacrifice bunt, illustrating the depth of arguably the best team in Ohio.
“They’ve got good players,” Pickard said.
Wadsworth trailed 6-0 and the 6-foot-1, 225-pound Shoaff (8-0) was rolling heading into the top of the sixth. The left-hander’s tight mechanics made his 85-mph fastball deceptive, and his varied pickoff moves kept baserunners honest.
Shoaff pitched 4⅔ innings of no-hit ball after allowing a single to Adam Dennison in the first, but the Grizzlies took advantage of two Shoaff walks and two errors by shortstop Riley Minorik in the sixth to make it 6-2. Minorik was bailed out of another error when the ball kicked to second baseman Romans, who got a force out but allowed pinch runner Mason Hicks to score in the process.
Wadsworth again brought the tying run to the plate, but the fireballing Benner entered and got speedy freshman A.J. Robinson to ground out. Benner then walked Riley Campbell (0-for-1, 3 walks, stolen base, run) in the seventh, but struck out the side for his fourth save of the season.
The Warriors couldn’t fully take advantage against Deemer early — they stranded five runners over the second and third innings — but led 2-0 after an RBI groundout and a sacrifice fly by Jenkins.
The Grizzlies finally blinked in the fourth, as second baseman Dennison couldn’t cover first base in time after Holdsworth bunted and third baseman Wil Rock couldn’t catch a throw from Deemer on another bunt.
Walsh Jesuit pushed the ante to 3-0 when Pennington made a diving stop to keep Romans from extra bases, but Minorik scored. An infield single by Mittiga made it 4-0 and Perebzak allowed two inherited runners to score.
The hole was too big to overcome.
“They were a little wide-eyed when we got here,” Pickard said. “We had one bad inning that opened the floodgates a little bit.”
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.