2024 OHSAA Tournament: State Final Four Preview (2024)

June 6, 2024
Dylan Hefflinger and PBR Ohio Staff
PBR Ohio Editor in Chief/Advanced Scout

2024 OHSAA Tournament: State Final Four Preview (1)

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2024 OHSAA Tournament: State Final Four Preview (2)

Division I State Final Four Preview

  • No. 12 Twinsburg vs No. 2 Olentangy Berlin
  • No. 21 Perrysburg vs No. 6 Mason

No. 12 Twinsburg vs No. 2 Olentangy Berlin

TWINSBURG: The Tigers have found a great way to honor former head coach Jeff Luca, who died in a car accident in December, with a trip to the state tournament. A 6-3 win over North Canton Hoover propelled Twinsburg to the Final Four for the third time in school history, the others coming in 1990 and 2006. Lucas Tinter allowed two runs on five hits in six innings to pick up the victory in moving to 6-1 on the season for the 12th-rated team in the state. AJ Taneja had a pair of RBI singles for Twinsburg while Josh Stalnaker went 2-3 with two runs scored. Stalnaker fanned a dozen in the regional semis, a 5-0 blanking of Wooster. Twinsburg, which finished 6-17 in 2023 and 1-11 in the Suburban League, blanked Dover 3-0 behind a three-hitter from Tinter to win its first district championship since 2006. Stalnaker hit a two-run triple to put the Suburban League National Conference co-champs on top in the sixth. Kris Kimmel, one of 12 seniors on the squad, had a two-run single in the top of the seventh in a 7-5 win over Hoban in the district semis. Kimmel leads the team in batting at .397 with Stalnaker, an Ashland commit, hitting .350 to go along with a 7-1 pitching record.

OLENTANGY BERLIN: The Bears did not allow a run in the regionals, beating last year’s state runners-up Olentangy Orange 5-0 in the semifinals and Hilliard Bradley 2-0 in the finals. Lake Erie commit Kyle Haag took a no-hitter into the sixth and finished with a one-hitter, striking out 10 to send Berlin to state for the first time ever. Akron signee Taylor Bednar had a two-hitter with 10 Ks in the semifinals for the second-rated team in Ohio. Maddox Pulliam, another Lake Erie signee for the Bears, hit two home runs in the semis and had an RBI double in the finals. Daniel Barrera, an Anderson commit, leads Berlin in batting with a .352 average while Haag is averaging .342 and shortstop Asher Dent .341 to go along with seven home runs. Sophom*ore Breylen Jenzen is hitting .341 with catcher Parker McDaniels, a Cincinnati commit, batting .337. Bednar, who has the school record with 93 strikeouts, is now 9-0 on the season while Haag is 6-0 for Berlin, which had never made it to regionals before this season.

No. 21 Perrysburg vs No. 6 Mason

PERRYSBURG: The Yellow Jackets knocked off Lakewood St. Edward 8-2 in the regional final to make it to state for the first time in 13 years. Matt Hubbard, a Toledo commit who leads the team in batting at .464, had an RBI single in the third and two-run double in the fourth for head coach Dave Hall, who enters the state tournament with 738 coaching wins. Sophom*ore left-hander Kyle Palmer did not permit a run in four innings of relief for Perrysburg, which was state runners-up in its last trip to state in 2011. Hubbard threw a six-hitter in a 4-1 victory over Toledo St. Francis in the regional semifinals for the Jackets, which have outscored the opposition 36-5 in the tournament, including a 5-1 win over Sylvania Southview in the district finals behind the pitching of Adrian College commit Parker Faris, one of six Jackets headed to play baseball at the next level. Junior shortstop Connor Kessenger set a school record for runs scored this season with 41 while Hubbard set the mark for doubles with 13. Perrysburg, the 21st-ranked team in the state, is the third different Northern Lakes League team in three years to make it to state, with Sylvania Northview winning the D-I title in 2022 and Anthony Wayne losing in the semifinals last year.

MASON: Michael Bilo threw a no-hitter to lead Mason to a 3-0 win over top-ranked Moeller, giving Mason its third regional title in the past six seasons. The senior committed to George Mason struck out 10 for the sixth-rated team in the state by Prep Baseball. Anthony Sulek had an RBI triple and two-run double for the Bears, while Indiana commit Jake Hanley hit a single and double and scored twice for Mason, which had lost to Moeller 7-5 in 10 innings back in April. Mason, which was beaten by Elder in the regionals a year ago, avenged the loss in the semifinals with a 9-5 victory. Hanley belted two home runs and fired a one-hitter in a 5-0 district finals win over Troy and also had a home run in a 4-0 district semifinal win against St. Xavier. In addition to Bilo and Hanley, other starters headed to college to play are Drew Stevens (Ashland), Mark Rutherford (Shelton State CC), Bryce Brannon (Duke) and Alex Koelling (Ohio State). Mason, which became the first team to win six consecutive GMC championships this season, has never won state in three previous appearances, 1987, 2018 and 2022.

For Fun Prediction:

Dylan Hefflinger

  • Olentangy Berlin over Twinsburg
  • Mason over Perrysburg
    • STATE CHAMP - Olentangy Berlin

Fan Vote:

  • Olentangy Berlin over Twinsburg
  • Mason over Perrysburg
    • STATE CHAMP - Mason

2024 OHSAA Tournament: State Final Four Preview (3)#12 Twinsburg

Record: 23-6
Head Coach: Jim Lipinski (23-6)
Final Ranking:
No. 12
Preseason Ranking: No. 35
Postseason History:

  • State Final Four: 1990, 2006, 2024
  • State Runner-up: N/A
  • State Championship: N/A

Quick Hits:

  • Josh Stalnaker took online college courses and missed last baseball season after playing previously at Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy.
  • Twinsburg finished 13-1 in the Suburban National Conference, tied with North Royalton.

Team Stats:

  • Offense: Team Average: .281, Total Runs: 196
  • Pitching: Innings Pitched: 197.2, Team ERA: 2.44, Strikeouts: 192

Top Players:

    • Bobby Lemieux, CF, 2025
    • Jack Phillips, RF, 2024
    • Josh Stalnaker, RHP/DH, 2024 (Ranked 68th - Ashland commit)
    • Kris Kimmel, 1B, 2024
    • Lane Conway, C, 2025 (Ranked 229th)
    • A.J. Taneja, SS, 2024
    • Jason Cox, 2B, 2025
    • Kyler Hoon, 3B, 2027
    • Jaden Dye, CF, 2024 (Ranked 222nd)
    • Lucas Tinter, RHP, 2025 (Ranked 138th)
    • Owen Shinada, RHP, 2025 (Ranked 7th/469th - Indiana commit)
    • Ryan Hojdar, RHP, 2025 (Ranked 54th)
    • Lleyton Torok, RHP, 2024

      Coach's Thoughts:

      PBR: What did you and your team do this offseason and regular season to prepare yourselves for this point?
      Coach: We had a lot of our players invest time in the weight room this off-season. Our assistant coach John Quartieri does a great job with mobility, explosiveness, and strength. We have quite a few guys that are playing varsity baseball for the first time this year and they are having success due the muscle they put on in the off-season. Our conference is one of the best conferences in the state. The Suburban League National prepared us for tournament baseball and we were able to play a pretty competitive non-conference schedule. 7 of the 10 non conference games were against teams that made it at least into their district semi-finals.

      PBR: What are a couple of things you like about your team right now?
      Coach: Pitching and Defense. This is something we have preached all year, we are winning games right now because we are doing the little things right. Our team is playing with a lot of confidence right now, they do not let one bad at bat or result affect them for the game. We have a “this pitch- next pitch” mentality and my kids have bought into this. No moment in any game has been too big for them. They continue to play every pitch of every game the same way, Focused!!

      PBR: Talk about the feeling when your team won regionals?
      Coach: It was PURE JOY, Watching these young men celebrate at Oberlin field was something that I will remember forever. With everything that the Tiger baseball family and community has gone through with our coach Jeff Luca passing away in December. Watching our players celebrate with their families was a very emotional moment. I was fortunate to experience a regional championship as a player back in 1999 as a junior on the Cuyahoga Falls State runner-up team, I keep telling my players to embrace this moment and enjoy every second of it. The memories they are creating will last forever.

      PBR: Thoughts about being able to play in the state final four with a chance at winning a state championship?
      Coach: This is the first opportunity to play in a State final 4 since 2006. We are just extremely happy to be one of 4 division 1 schools still playing.

      PBR: Thoughts on the other three teams at the state?
      Coach: First, congratulations to all 3 teams for making it to Canal Park. All three teams are state powerhouses with great coaching staffs and at least one player on the OHSBCA All-Ohio Team. We know that every team will have great arms and play great defense. We are looking forward to the opportunity to compete against such quality teams.

      PBR: Anything else you would like to add?
      Coach: I want to take this opportunity to thank my assistant coaches for this season. I Will mention again the tragedy that we as a Twinsburg baseball community and community as a whole went through when we lost coach Luca in December. My two Varsity assistants, John Quartieri and Ron Fruscella had been assistants under Jeff Luca the last 5 years. They agreed to stay on staff with me and that has really helped keep the nucleus of Twinsburg Baseball in tact. I cannot say enough good things about these two men. This season has been special no matter the outcome on Friday night and I cannot wait to watch these young men compete in such a great atmosphere.

      2024 OHSAA Tournament: State Final Four Preview (4)#2 Olentangy Berlin

      Record: 27-3
      Head Coach: Mike Weaver (90-54)
      Final Ranking:
      No. 2
      Preseason Ranking: No. 7
      Postseason History:

      • State Final Four: 2024
      • State Runner-up: N/A
      • State Championship: N/A

      Quick Hits:

      • Ascher Dent, who recently decommitted, has more doubles (12) than singles (11) among his 30 hits.
      • Taylor Bednar and Kyle Haag have a combined 159 strikeouts in 99.2 innings.

      Team Stats:

      • Offense: Team Average: .308, Total Runs: 217
      • Pitching: Innings Pitched: 198, Team ERA: 2.12, Strikeouts: 269

      Top Players:

        • Daniel Barreca, CF, 2024 (Ranked 408th - Anderson University commit)
        • Lucas Patrick, SS, 2025
        • Parker McDaniels, C, 2024 (Ranked 28th - Cincinnati commit)
        • Ascher Dent, 1B, 2024 (Ranked 51st)
        • Kyle Haag, DH/P, 2024 (Ranked 74th - Lake Erie College commit)
        • Maddox Pulliam, 3B, 2024 (Ranked 211th - Lake Erie College commit)
        • Braylen Jehnzen, RF, 2026 (Ranked 134th)
        • Baret Spencer, 2B, 2024 (Ranked 336th - Muskingum)
        • Alejandro Aguilar, LF, 2025
        • Taylor Bednar, RHP, 2024 (Ranked 76th - Akron commit)
        • Jack Showalter, RHP, 2025 (Ranked 285th)
        • Nick Gemienhardt, RHP, 2025 (Ranked 182nd)
        • Carter Elliott, RHP, 2026
        • Carson Repp, LHP, 2024

          Coach's Thoughts:

          PBR: What did you and your team do this offseason and regular season to prepare yourselves for this point?
          We really focused on putting in work in the weightroom. We still do in season lifts 2x a week. We are very fortunate to have an amazing weight training staff lead by Ryan Brooks who is a teacher in the building. We also spent time doing classroom work, reading through Training Camp by Jon Gordon and working through the playbook, focusing on positive mental training. We also did some workshops created by Brian Cain to stay positive and focus on our process of getting better one day at a time, one pitch at a time. We also trained 2x a week in the winter at 5:30 AM. Guys were locked in to getting work in and being dedicated to getting better.

          PBR: What are a couple of things you like about your team right now?
          Our brotherhood. We are such a close group. These kids are so much fun to be around. They ask questions and hold each other accountable when someone is not giving their best effort.

          PBR: Talk about the feeling when your team won regionals?
          Honestly, it still has not sunk in. I think it will when we get back to practice on Monday. I have seen a couple of the boys at graduation party's and we just smile and hug. We aren't done yet; the goal was not to make it to the Final Four.

          PBR: Thoughts about being able to play in the state final four with a chance at winning a state championship?
          Coach: We are one of four very talented and deserving teams that are here. Every one has a chance, it about playing clean, winning the free 90 game. We have been through some challenges this year so I feel like we are ready for it and won't be overwhelmed by the moment.

          PBR: Thoughts on the other three teams at the state?
          Coach: Congrats to Mason, Perrysburg and Twinsburg. All 3 had impressive seasons and great tournament wins. It is going to be a fun and exciting weekend with great baseball. I know Coach Bly and Coach Hall very well and I am so happy for them. I also know what the Twinsburg program and community have been through with the tragic loss of Coach Luca in December. What a great way for them to honor him with the success they have had this year.

          PBR: Anything else you would like to add?
          Coach: Berlin Pride, It's Forever. Our players are playing for each other, their families, our school, school district and community. They are leaving a legacy that will never be forgotten.

          2024 OHSAA Tournament: State Final Four Preview (5)#21 Perrysburg

          Record: 25-7
          Head Coach: Dave Hall (738-376)
          Final Ranking:
          No. 21
          Preseason Ranking: No. 18
          Postseason History:

          • State Final Four: 2003, 2011, 2024
          • State Runner-up: 2011
          • State Championship: N/A

          Quick Hits:

          • Perrysburg finished in fourth place out of five teams in the NLL Buckeye Division.
          • Matt Hubbard, known for striking out opponents, has struck out just five times hiimself in 106 plate appearances.

          Team Stats:

          • Offense: Team Average: .321, Total Runs: 217
          • Pitching: Innings Pitched: 213.2, Team ERA: 2.20, Strikeouts: 239

          Top Players:

            • Connor Kessinger, SS, 2025
            • Brady Zilles, RF, 2024
            • Matt Hubbard, RHP, 2024 (Ranked 129th - Toledo commit)
            • Brayden Heitmeyer, 2B, 2026
            • Landon Winters, LF, 2025
            • Braxton Mefferd, CF/RHP, 2025 (Ranked 159th)
            • Abram Hire, DH, 2024 (Ranked 233rd - Ohio Northern commit)
            • Trent Bezek, 3B, 2024 (Wittenberg commit)
            • Quinn Weber, C, 2024 (Ranked 256th - Adrian College commit)
            • Parker Faris, 1B/RHP, 2024 (Ranked 428th - Adrian College commit)
            • Tyler Palmer, LHP, 2026

              Coach's Thoughts:

              PBR: What did you and your team do this offseason and regular season to prepare yourselves for this point?
              Coach: Team and Coaches put in a lot of time with openfields, open gyms and 6 man individualized instruction.

              PBR: What are a couple of things you like about your team right now?
              Coach: They believe in each other and play for their teammates.

              PBR: Talk about the feeling when your team won regionals?
              Coach: Felt very happy for the team and coaches who have never experienced going to the State Final Four. To see their reactions and smiles makes all the work worthwhile.

              PBR: Thoughts about being able to play in the state final four with a chance at winning a state championship?
              Coach: It is something you grow up wanting to do. As a player you dream it in your backyard with your friends and to see us have a chance is something they will always remember. We have talked about Legacy and for the team to write their own. Hopefully we have a few more pages to add

              PBR: Thoughts on the other three teams at the state?
              Coach:All 3 teams are well coached and very good teams. It will take a great effort to be able to beat these teams.

              PBR: Anything else you would like to add, feel free to send it. Remember, this is for your players, your coaching staff and your community.
              Coach: This team has been very coachable and when challenged by the coaching staff they have responded. I also want to thank my staff Chris Stein, Trevor Hafner, Kyle Durham, Kevin Suttles and Scott Mitchell for all the hard work they have put in to allow us to be in this position.

              2024 OHSAA Tournament: State Final Four Preview (6)#6 Mason

              Record: 26-6
              Head Coach: Curt Bly (245-62)
              Final Ranking:
              No. 6
              Preseason Ranking: No. 2
              Postseason History:

              • State Final Four: 1987, 2018, 2022, 2024
              • State Runner-up: 1987
              • State Championship: N/A

              Quick Hits:

              • Hanley established the career hit record at Mason this season, beating the old mark set by Nick Northcutt.
              • Mason was a perfect 12-0 in the Greater Miami Conference, outscoring the opposition 100-23.
              • Our team won our 6th consecutive GMC title which has never happened in the GMC before.
              • We also won our 4th straight district title this year which is a program first.
              • This year’s Regional Championship was the 3rd in 6 years for our program.

              Team Stats:

              • Offense: Team Average: .283, Total Runs: 203
              • Pitching: Innings Pitched: 216, Team ERA: 2.62, Strikeouts: 296

              Top Players:

                • Alex Koelling, INF, 2024 (Ranked 16th - Ohio State commit)
                • Jake Hanley, 1B/RHP, 2024 (Ranked 2nd/75th - Indiana commit)
                • Mark Rutherford, 2024 (Ranked 56th - Shelton State CC commit)
                • Drew Stevens, 2024 (Ranked 121st - Ashland commit)
                • Anthony Sulek, INF, 2024 (Ranked 75th)
                • Casey Doner, 2024
                • Brad Hart, 2024
                • Hutch Crociata, 2025
                • Drew Johnson, 2025
                • Cade Landheer, 2025
                • Liam Sander, 2026 (Ranked 76th)
                • Bryce Brannon, RHP, 2024 (Ranked 12th - Duke commit)
                • Michael Bilo, RHP, 2024 (Ranked 41st -George Mason commit)
                • Ben Hanley, RHP, 2026 (Ranked 10th)
                • Conor Eggleton, LHP, 2024 (Ranked 124th - Bellarmine commit)

                  Coach's Thoughts:

                  PBR: What did you and your team do this offseason and regular season to prepare yourselves for this point?
                  Coach: Our guys have poured so much into this season, as they do every year. We begin in September preparing for the season, and our players commit to and trust the process every step of the way. Our focus is always on player development and team chemistry. This group has worked so hard to be the best they can be each and every day.

                  PBR: What are a couple of things you like about your team right now?
                  Coach: We play hard and with aggression. We've done a nice job of controlling the pace of games so far during the tournament and are playing with a lot of confidence right now. Finally, our pitching and defense have stood up well throughout the season and that has continued into the tournament. We talk about how each game is a chance to earn more days to stay together. The guys have made it to the final week of the season just focusing on getting another day together.

                  PBR: Talk about the feeling when your team won regionals?
                  Coach: Pure joy. Being able to watch our players and coaches celebrate that win is always special. Winning the regional championship is never easy and we never take it for granted. Our guys have put so much effort into this that it’s gratifying to see those efforts bring results.

                  PBR: Thoughts about being able to play in the state final four with a chance at winning a state championship?
                  Coach: Making it to Akron is the goal of every team, every season. Realizing that goal and having a chance at the ultimate one is exciting for sure. Our guys are looking forward to the opportunity.

                  PBR: Thoughts on the other three teams at the state?
                  Coach: All great programs with terrific players and coaches. Each team is playing great baseball right now and I’m sure coming to Akron with a lot of confidence. It should be a great couple days of baseball.

                  PBR: Anything else you would like to add, feel free to send it. Remember, this is for your players, your coaching staff and your community.
                  Coach: I’d just like to thank all of our supporters that have been behind us all season. We have elite families that bring so much to our players’ experience and our alumni are so supportive as well. Our players know that there are so many people they represent when we take the field and we are working to make them proud each day. We proudly play for everyone living in the 45040 and are excited to do so this weekend in Akron!

                  2024 OHSAA Tournament: State Final Four Preview (7)

                  Division II Final Four Preview

                  • No. 24 Padua vs No. 6 Badin
                  • No. 18 Indian Creekvs No. 11 West Branch

                  No. 24 Padua vs No. 6 Badin

                  PADUA FRANSICAN: Lucas Palange gave up one earned run in six innings of work, Zach Zemla went 3-3 at the plate and Makhi Williams recorded the save in a 4-2 win over Napoleon, sending Padua to state for the first time since 2005. Bryden Spellacy scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the eighth to beat Clear Fork 4-3 in the regional semis. Williams threw 2.1 innings of scoreless ball for the win in relief of Nathan Krayzel. Trey Martin, Matt Lowe and Yuri Bellina, a Baldwin Wallace commit, all had two hits for Padua, the 24th-ranked team in Ohio. Padua overcame a three-run deficit with a four-run fourth in a 6-4 district semifinal win over Keystone, with Krayzel fanning 10 in four innings of relief for the win. Williams had a triple to highlight a four-run fifth in a 6-1 triumph over Rocky River in the finals for the program’s first district title since 2017. Krayzel is 6-2 pitching while Palange is 4-2 to go along with a team-high .406 average. Bellina is hitting .389 and Jacob Duliba, a Mount Union commit, .375.

                  BADIN: Chandler Taylor broke a 0-0 tie in the bottom of the sixth with a run-scoring single and Beau Chaney and Tyler Verdin combined on a three-hit shutout in a 2-0 win over Jonathan Alder, sending the sixth-ranked team in Ohio to state for the 15th time. Brion Treadway's squad has now outscored their postseason opponents 50-0, including a 6-0 win over Tippecanoe in the district finals when Chaney threw six innings of shutout ball. Badin, which last appeared in the state tournament in 2022, has not won a title since 1996 when Mark Maus, now an assistant, was head coach. Rick Kunkel, another former head coach, is also an assistant for the Rams, which lost in the regional finals to finish 29-2 a year ago. Right-handed pitchers Verdin, a Heidelberg commit, Matty Helms, a Northern Kentucky recruit, and Ian Price, along with second baseman Austin Buckle are the lone seniors that see action for the Rams, which won state championships in 1991 and 1996.

                  No. 18 Indian Creek vs No. 11 West Branch

                  INDIAN CREEK:Sylus Hyde was the winning pitcher in both regional games, a 10-8 victory over St. Clairsville in the semifinals and 7-5 win over Waverly in the finals. Eight different players had hits in the regional title game, including Hyde who had two hits and drove in three in addition to fanning five in six innings on the mound to improve to 8-2 on the season. Sal Barcalow and Landon Pownall each produced three hits while Gavin Pownall added two hits and earned the save in sending the Redskins to their first state appearance in school history. Indian Creek, which had lost to St. Clairsville three times during the season, took a 6-0 lead in the regional semifinals only to have the game tied at 8-8 before Hyde hit a two-run single in the bottom of sixth for the 18th-ranked team in the state. Barcolow, now 8-1, went the distance in a 1-0 win over Tri-Valley to give Indian Creek its first district championship ever. Indian Creek, which was formed in 1994 between the consolidation of Wintersville and Mingo high schools, has three players hitting better than .400, Landon Pownall (.418), Barcalow (.412) and Ty Householder (.408).

                  WEST BRANCH: Jaxon Robb came through with a walk-off single to plate Anthony Perry, giving West Branch a 2-1 win over defending state champion Kenston in the regional finals. Robb, a senior who played as a freshman but did not play the past two years, came to the plate after Charlie Biskup was intentionally walked. Perry fired a six-hitter to improve to 8-0 on the season for the Warriors, at state for just the second time in school history, the other in 1973 when they finished as Class AA runners-up. The 11th-ranked team in the state defeated NDCL 1-0 in the district semis on a one-hitter by Beau Alazaus before rolling past Geneva 9-1 in the finals behind Perry, who did not permit an earned run while producing a pair of hits. Boston Mulinix also had two hits against Geneva. Alazaus is 10-1 on the season for West Branch, which has set the school record for wins in a season with 26.

                  For Fun Prediction:

                  Dylan Hefflinger

                  • Padua over Badin
                  • Indian Creek over West Branch
                    • STATE CHAMP - Padua

                  Fan Vote:

                  • Badin over Padua
                  • West Branch over Indian Creek
                    • REGIONAL CHAMP - Badin

                  2024 OHSAA Tournament: State Final Four Preview (8)#24 Padua

                  Record: 17-8
                  Head Coach: Ryan McSweeney
                  Final Ranking:
                  No. 24
                  Preseason Ranking: NR
                  Postseason History:

                  • State Final Four: 2024
                  • State Runner-up: N/A
                  • State Championship: N/A

                  Quick Hits:

                  • Padua won the championship in the Crown Conference, a four-team league made up of Catholic schools in the Greater Cleveland area. Padua finished one game ahead of Walsh Jesuit.
                  • The last time Padua was in the state tournament in 2005 the semifinal opponent was Badin, which knocked off the Bears 1-0.

                  Team Stats:

                  • Offense: Team Average: .276, Total Runs: 128
                  • Pitching: Innings Pitched: 197.2, Team ERA: 2.51, Strikeouts: 167

                  Top Players:

                  • Makhi Williams, CF/LHP, 2025
                  • Lucas Palange, 3B/P, 2025
                  • Yuri Bellina, C, 2024 (Baldwin Wallace commit)
                  • Spencer Siedlecki, 1B, 2025
                  • Trey Martin, LF, 2025
                  • Jacob Duliba, DH, 2024 (Mount Union commit)
                  • Matt Lowe, RF, 2024
                  • Zach Zemla, SS, 2024
                  • Manny Lebron, 2B, 2024
                  • Nathan Krayzel, RHP, 2025 (Ranked 113th)
                  • Nick Hofener, RHP, 2024
                  • Ryan Jankowski, DH, 2024
                  • Brandon Tillman, RHP, 2027
                  • Jack DeGeeter, LHP, 2026

                  Coach's Thoughts:

                  PBR: What did you and your team do this offseason and regular season to prepare yourselves for this point?
                  Coach: We try to have a very tough off-season in the weight room and put a big emphasis on getting bigger, faster, stronger. As well as putting together a tough schedule to get ourselves ready for postseason play.

                  PBR: What are a couple of things you like about your team right now?
                  Coach: I love our leadership from the upperclassmen and the resilience of the team. No matter what has been thrown at them all year they have found ways to overcome and help put us in this position.

                  PBR: Talk about the feeling when your team won regionals?
                  Coach: It was an unbelievable feeling. Watching the team set a goal to win a District and exceed that by winning a Regional was very special. Getting back to the final four for the first time since 2005 is a great feeling.

                  PBR: Thoughts about being able to play in the state final four with a chance at winning a state championship?
                  Coach: It is an honor to be in this position to be in the final four. It's great when you get to play in games of this magnitude.

                  PBR: Thoughts on the other three teams at the state?
                  Coach: They are all phenomenal. We have nothing but the utmost respect for them and the seasons they have had. It should be one heck of a final four.

                  PBR: Anything else you would like to add?
                  Coach: Just really excited for our team, Padua baseball alumni, and community to be back in this spot with a chance to bring a state title back to Padua.

                  2024 OHSAA Tournament: State Final Four Preview (9)#6 Badin

                  Record: 26-6
                  Head Coach: Brion Treadway
                  Final Ranking:
                  No. 6
                  Preseason Ranking: No. 6
                  Postseason History:

                  • State Final Four: 1975, 1984, 1991, 1993, 1996, 1999, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2021, 2022, 2024
                  • State Runner-up: 1975, 1984, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2016
                  • State Championship: 1991, 1996

                  Quick Hits:

                  • Badin has a .354 team batting average led by Cooper Ollis at .425 and Kyle Anderson .418.
                  • Chandler Taylor has 16 extra-base hits, with eight doubles, four triples and four home runs.

                  Team Stats:

                  • Offense: Team Average: .354, Total Runs: 265
                  • Pitching: Innings Pitched: 204.2, Team ERA: 1.77, Strikeouts: 209

                  Top Players:

                    • Kade Bowling, 3B, 2025 (Ranked 84th)
                    • Austin Vangen, LF, 2026
                    • Xander Arnold, 1B, 2025
                    • Chase Luebbe, RF, 2025
                    • Chandler Taylor, CF, 2026 (Ranked 3rd/129th)
                    • Kyle Anderson, C, 2025
                    • Jeremiah Carmella, DH, 2026
                    • Cooper Ollis, SS, 2025
                    • Austin Buckle, 2B, 2024
                    • Caleb Driessen, RHP, 2026 (Ranked 25th)
                    • Beau Chaney, RHP, 2026 (Ranked 29th)
                    • Tyler Verdin, RHP, 2024 (Ranked 423rd - Heidelberg commit)
                    • Matty Helms, RHP, 2024 (Ranked 274th)
                    • Ian Price, RHP, 2024 (Ranked 457th)
                    • Max Kraemer, RHP, 2025
                    • Ryan Holderbach, RHP, 2025
                    • Carson Niehaus, RHP, 2026 (Ranked 148th)

                      Coach's Thoughts:

                      PBR: What did you and your team do this offseason and regular season to prepare yourselves for this point?
                      Coach: We have the best strength coach in Ohio in Craig Cheek. He has been our strength coach for 8 years now however this was the first year we offered strength training as a class during the school day. This allowed us five days of strength training and speed and agility during the actual school day. Not only were our guys getting five days with Coach Cheek but it also freed up their time after school which allowed us many other opportunities for baseball training. I believe this was a game changer for us. We are also in year two of having a full-time mental performance coach in Eric Cole. Our players have incredible resources in these coaches to be elite both mentally and physically.

                      PBR: What are a couple of things you like about your team right now?
                      Coach: Our team enjoys being together. We have incredible team chemistry and although we only have four seniors, they are incredible leaders and have carried us this season in their ability to lead. Our team has played an incredible schedule. They have battled against some of the best competition in Ohio, Kentucky and Michigan. We have gone up early, we've come from behind and we have played in some high pressure situations. No matter what happens this team responds and they have been an absolute joy to coach.

                      PBR: Talk about the feeling when your team won regionals?
                      Coach: Best feeling ever watching our guys dogpile! Loved seeing our guys enjoy that moment together and then get to share that with their families.

                      PBR: Thoughts about being able to play in the state final four with a chance at winning a state championship?
                      Coach: This is what it's all about. This is the goal every single year and to be able to be one of the last four teams standing is an incredible feat. It makes all of the time and work worth it.

                      PBR: Thoughts on the other three teams at the state?
                      Coach: This is anybody's championship to win. All four teams are incredibly talented and well coached and very deserving of being here.

                      PBR: Anything else you would like to add?
                      Coach: The continuity on our coaching staff is the reason our program is so successful. We have fourteen coaches in our program ranging from 4 to 30 years of service. Our baseball alumni are loyal and invested in our program. Our parents and administration support our coaches in every possible way. Our athletic department has incredible coaches in all programs and we thrive on multisport athletes. There is a very unselfish culture in our athletic department that allows athletes to truly become thier personal best.

                      2024 OHSAA Tournament: State Final Four Preview (10)#18 Indian Creek

                      Record: 22-6
                      Head Coach: Mike Cottis (344-271)
                      Final Ranking: No. 18
                      Preseason Ranking: NR
                      Postseason History:

                      • State Final Four: 2024
                      • State Runner-up: N/A
                      • State Championship: N/A

                      Quick Hits:

                      • The 22 wins this season set a school record.
                      • Landon Pownall has an on-base percentage of .587 and Housholder .563.

                      Team Stats:

                      • Offense: Team Average: .319, Total Runs: 206
                      • Pitching: Innings Pitched: 176, Team ERA: 2.50, Strikeouts: 183

                      Top Players:

                      • Ty Householder, CF, 2025 (Ranked 126th)
                      • Nick Maurer, 2B, 2024
                      • Landon Pownall, 1B, 2024
                      • Sal Barcalow, LF/RHP, 2025 (Ranked 262nd)
                      • Gavin Pownall, SS/RHP, 2026
                      • Hunter Rusnak, C, 2026
                      • Sylus Hyde, LHP, 2026
                      • Stan Amis, 3B, 2025
                      • Caleb Bodo, OF/RHP, 2025
                      • Ian Starkey, OF, 2026
                      • Tre Feist-Winland, RHP, 2026

                      Coach's Thoughts:

                      PBR: What did you and your team do this offseason and regular season to prepare yourselves for this point?
                      Coach: These boys came everyday to 5:30 am workouts and truly busted their rear ends to get this opportunity. All off-season getting to Akron is all they talked about! The players and coaches just did a tremendous job preparing for this opportunity.

                      PBR: What are a couple of things you like about your team right now?
                      Coach: This is the closest team I have ever been around. They are truly like brothers and the way they pick each other up is amazing.

                      PBR: Talk about the feeling when your team won regionals?
                      Coach: This has been a long time coming for Indian Creek. We have had many great teams knocking on the door and these guys kicked it in. They have done a great job representing the community and teams of the past this season. The feeling of that last out was just amazing!

                      PBR: Thoughts about being able to play in the state final four with a chance at winning a state championship?
                      Coach: This is an amazing opportunity that not many kids ever get to experience. These boys are focused and ready to get after it.

                      PBR: Thoughts on the other three teams at the state?
                      Coach: Every team involved is outstanding and you have to play your best game to advance. We know the other three have great programs and great players.

                      PBR: Anything else you would like to add?
                      Coach: The Indian Creek community has been amazing throughout our tournament run. We are proud to represent them in Akron!

                      2024 OHSAA Tournament: State Final Four Preview (11)#11 West Branch

                      Record: 26-6
                      Head Coach: Rick Mulinix (180-104)
                      Final Ranking: No. 11
                      Preseason Ranking: 25
                      Postseason History:

                      • State Final Four: 1973
                      • State Runner-up: 1973
                      • State Championship: N/A

                      Quick Hits:

                      • The 10 wins by Alazaus is a school record at West Branch.
                      • The six losses this season by the Warriors were by a combined eight runs.

                      Team Stats:

                      • No stats sent from the team/coach
                      • Offense: Team Average: ???, Total Runs: ???
                      • Pitching: Innings Pitched: ???, Team ERA: ???, Strikeouts: ???

                      Top Players:

                      • Boston Mulinix, SS, 2025 (Ranked 191st)
                      • Aaron Tucker, 1B/LHP, 2024
                      • Hunter Shields, C, 2024
                      • Beau Alazaus, RHP, 2024 (Walsh commit)
                      • Anthony Perry, 3B/RHP, 2025
                      • Jeremiah Thomas, RF/LHP, 2026
                      • Charlie Biskup, DH, 2025
                      • Jaxon Robb, 2B, 2024
                      • Gavin Bell, CF/RHP, 2024
                      • Carson Wike, LF, 2026
                      • Maddox Coleman, 2025
                      • Trevor Minich, 2025
                      • Grady Close, 2026
                      • Nick Scofinksy, 2026

                      Coach's Thoughts:

                      PBR: What did you and your team do this offseason and regular season to prepare yourselves for this point?
                      Coach: Nothing Different than every other year, just have more experienced players

                      PBR: What are a couple of things you like about your team right now?
                      Coach: Team Chemistry. Nobody cares who gets the job done, they are happy for every other player's success.

                      PBR: Talk about the feeling when your team won regionals?
                      Coach: Just so happy for the kids to get to enjoy that moment!

                      PBR: Thoughts about being able to play in the state final four with a chance at winning a state championship?
                      Coach: Great experience for our kids and community. We're just focused on ourselves and "control what we can control"

                      PBR: Thoughts on the other three teams at the state?
                      Coach: I'm sure they are doing their work to prepare to play 2 more games with the chance to win a title. Obviously if you're here at this point, you're good!

                      PBR: Anything else you would like to add?
                      Coach: We have by far the BEST COMMUNITY SUPPORT of any other team here. So proud to be a WARRIOR!!!!

                      Division III Final Four Preview Preview

                      • No. 24 Minford vs No. 11 Millbury Lake
                      • No. 1 Heath vs No. 16 Waynedale

                      No. 24 Minford vs No. 11 Millbury Lake

                      MINFORD: A three-run sixth inning put Minford on top and the Falcons went on to edge Portsmouth 6-5 for their second regional championship in school history. Mason Book and Grant Wheeler hit back-to-back RBI triples to give Minford the lead, after once trailing 5-1. Carson Cronin finished with three hits, two RBIs and two runs for the 24th-rated team in Ohio. Max Lauder was the winning pitcher with Wheeler earning the save. The sixth inning was also big in the district semifinals, with Minford putting six on the board during an 11-4 win over Barnesville. Rhyan Queen went 4-4 with five RBIs to lead a 12-hit attack for Minford, which was behind 4-0 in the fifth. Cam Thacker went the distance in the district finals against Wheelersburg, allowing six hits and fanning seven helping the Falcons avenge two regular-season losses. Thacker, who threw the second perfect game in school history earlier in the year, is 10-2 on the season while Lauder is 7-2. Cronin tops the squad in batting with a .441 average while Queen is hitting .382 and Wheeler, a Mt. Vernon Nazarene commit, .376 for second-year head coach Eli Daniels. Minford’s only previous state appearance came in 2018.

                      MILLBURY LAKE: Lake will be going to the state tournament for the first time since 2001 after getting past perennial state power Coldwater 6-2 in the regional finals. Ryan Wagner gave up five hits and fanned five in 6.2 innings with Jay Blazevich coming in to record the final out. Blazevich had three hits for the Flyers, which reached the regional finals courtesy of a 6-1 win over Bucyrus Wynford in the regional semis behind the pitching of junior Drew Tajblik, a Toledo commit who scattered six hits while recording six strikeouts in his school-record 11th win of the season. Jack Sobzack had a pair of hits for Lake, which has not won a state game in three previous appearances, 1935, 1956 and 2001. Tajblik leads the Flyers in hitting with a .375 average while stealing a school record 34 bases this season. Sophom*ore catcher Gavin Kohlhoffer is batting .350 with 25 stolen bases while Blazevich carries a .340 average with 26 steals for the 11th-rated team in Ohio.

                      No. 1 Heath vs No. 16 Waynedale

                      HEATH: Heath, the top-rated team in Ohio, is headed to state for the second year in a row after beating Cincinnati Christian, 4-0. Riley Baum was the winning pitcher in the regional finals for the second year in a row, throwing a two-hit shutout for the Bulldogs. Leadoff hitter Connor Corbett had three hits and Wyatt Binckley pitched six innings and had two RBIs in a 7-4 semifinal win over Cincinnati Country Day. Conner Toomey scored twice for Heath, which finished just 6-20 three years ago and 10-13 in 2022. Binckley threw a one-hitter in a 9-0 win over West Jefferson in the district finals after Jaiden Dansby came through with a walkoff double to score Baum in a 2-1 victory over Marion Pleasant in the district semis. Findlay commit Hayden Woodward, a 1B/P, is among the senior starters for a team with just two juniors in the lineup. The Licking County League champions, which lost to Harrison Central 2-1 in the state semifinals a year ago, has won state twice, in 2002 and 2007.

                      WAYNEDALE: The D-III state champions the past two years will be gunning for number three after defeating Perry 8-3 in the regional finals. A seven-run seventh inning rallied Waynedale to the victory, with Cam Miller, Shane Coblentz and Brayden Steiner all recording RBI hits in the frame for the Bears, giving head coach Lucas Daughery his 100th coaching win at the school. Tate Venables was the winning pitcher, allowing four hits and no earned runs over six innings in relief of starter Otto Solorzano, the winning pitcher in the past two state championship games, a 2-1 win over Milan Edison in 2022 and a 10-1 victory over Harrison Central a year ago. Solorzano is battling an elbow issue. Coblentz, who struck out a dozen in a 2-0 district semifinal win over Tri-Valley, fanned 10 in a 4-1 victory over South Range in the regional semis. This is the fourth state appearance in school history for Waynedale, the 16th-rated team in the state.

                      For Fun Prediction:

                      Dylan Hefflinger

                      • Lake over Minford
                      • Heath over Waynedale
                        • STATE CHAMP - Heath

                      Fan Vote:

                      • Lake over Minford
                      • Heath over Waynedale
                        • STATE CHAMP - Heath

                      2024 OHSAA Tournament: State Final Four Preview (12)#24 Minford

                      Record: 22-6
                      Head Coach: Eli Daniels (40-12)
                      Final Ranking:
                      No. 24
                      Preseason Ranking: NR
                      Postseason History:

                      • State Final Four: 2018, 2024
                      • State Runner-up: N/A
                      • State Championship: N/A

                      Quick Hits:

                      • Five Minford graduates have gone on to be drafted into major league organizations.
                      • Minford finished second in the Southern Ohio II Conference at 7-3, three games behind Wheelersburg.

                      Team Stats:

                      • Offense: Team Average: .317, Total Runs: 196
                      • Pitching: Innings Pitched: 187.2, Team ERA: 2.42, Strikeouts: 141

                      Top Players:

                        • Casron Cronin, LF, 2024
                        • Mason Book, CF, 2024
                        • Grant Wheeler, SS/P, 2024 (Ranked 158th - Mount Vernon Nazarene commit)
                        • Rhyan Queen, 3B, 2024
                        • Cam Thacker, P, 2024
                        • J.D. Matiz, C, 2025
                        • Ty Borland, DH, 2026 (Ranked 141st)
                        • Carter Frazie, 1B, 2026
                        • Max Lauder, 2B/P, 2026
                        • Kyle Laxton, RF,
                        • Mason Bradley, P, 2026

                          Coach's Thoughts:

                          PBR: What did you and your team do this offseason and regular season to prepare yourselves for this point?
                          Coach: Nothing special was done during the off season and regular season that we don’t normally do. Our coaching staff preaches that if you take care of the little things during a game the big things will take care of themselves.

                          PBR: What are a couple of things you like about your team right now?
                          Coach: We are a gritty baseball team that is selfless, the boys want one thing and that is to win.

                          PBR: Talk about the feeling when your team won regionals?
                          Coach: Overjoyed and unbelievably proud of these boys they put in the work all year to be as good as they are.

                          PBR: Thoughts about being able to play in the state final four with a chance at winning a state championship?
                          Coach: Excited for the opportunity to play ball this late in the year, our goal is to play Falcon baseball and leave it all out on the field.

                          PBR: Thoughts on the other three teams at the state?
                          Coach: Three incredibly talented teams, excited for the opportunity to play against them.

                          PBR: Anything else you would like to add?
                          Coach: Its been a privilege to coach these boys all year, win loose or draw they have made their community proud.

                          2024 OHSAA Tournament: State Final Four Preview (13)#11 Lake

                          Record: 27-4
                          Head Coach: Casey Witt
                          Final Ranking: No. 11
                          Preseason Ranking: NR
                          Postseason History:

                          • State Final Four: 1935, 1956, 2001
                          • State Runner-up: N/A
                          • State Championship: N/A

                          Quick Hits:

                          • Quick Hits: Lake has 140 stolen bases on the season out of 152 attempts.
                          • Pitchers for Lake have struck out 222 and walked 60.
                          • Won the Northern Buckeye League, despite losing to second place Eastwood twice.

                          Team Stats:

                          • Offense: Team Average: .308, Total Runs: 236
                          • Pitching: Innings Pitched: 203.1, Team ERA: 1.58, Strikeouts: 222

                          Top Players:

                          • Gavin Kohlhofer, C, 2026 (Ranked 102nd)
                          • Drew Tajblik, SS/RHP, 2025 (Ranked 43rd - Toledo commit)
                          • Jay Blazevich, INF/RHP, 2025
                          • Ryan Wagner, INF/RHP, 2024
                          • Jack Sobzack, INF, 2026
                          • Connor Eck, OF, 2024
                          • Caleb Tobias, 1B/RHP, 2024
                          • Korbin Adkins, OF, 2026
                          • Aiden Young, OF, 2024
                          • Zaiden Kohlenberg, OF, 2025
                          • Kaiden Cousino, OF, 2027

                          Coach's Thoughts:

                          PBR: What did you and your team do this offseason and regular season to prepare yourselves for this point?
                          Coach: We are fortunate to have a group of players and coaches that have a similar vision and drive to just simply get better each day. That, along with playing in a really tough conference has prepared us for the tournament run. We have just stuck to our process and what we do, and it has paid off in a major way.

                          PBR: What are a couple of things you like about your team right now?
                          Coach: I like the approach they are taking to games and practice currently. Nothing has changed in their day-to-day routine and that has been really impressive to witness as a coach. I also enjoy the togetherness that they have as a group in the dugout, on the bus, and in our locker room. Their ability to just concern themselves with each other and not anything outside has been terrific.

                          PBR: Talk about the feeling when your team won regionals?
                          Coach: The first two words that come to mind are elation and joy. For the hard work of our kids and coaches to be paid off in a way like this is really special to me. I played in this program and to be able to be a part of a group that has gotten back here has created a whirlwind of joy and excitement for me as a coach.

                          PBR: Thoughts about being able to play in the state final four with a chance at winning a state championship?
                          Coach: The ability to play this final week is really special, especially with the group of guys that we have. Having the opportunity to go out and compete with them again, especially with what is on the line, is extremely exciting.

                          PBR: Thoughts on the other three teams at the state?
                          Coach: Teams that are still playing are here for a reason. All the teams left are really good ball clubs and we are looking forward to a great challenge in Division III.

                          PBR: Anything else you would like to add?
                          Coach: I'm really proud of the way that our guys have stuck to their process and have just concerned themselves with each other and our dugout. We have a group of good baseball players, but they are even better young men. It has truly been a pleasure to be around this group and coach them this spring.

                          2024 OHSAA Tournament: State Final Four Preview (14)#1 Heath

                          Record: 25-2
                          Head Coach: Tom Warren
                          Final Ranking:
                          No. 1
                          Preseason Ranking: No. 5
                          Postseason History:

                          • State Final Four: 2000, 2002, 2007, 2023, 2024
                          • State Runner-up: 2002, 2007
                          • State Championship: N/A

                          Quick Hits:

                          • Heath was dominant in the Licking County League this season finishing 14-1, outscoring conference foes 121-25.
                          • Heath is riding a 12-game winning streak, holding opponents to two runs or fewer in 10 of those games.

                          Team Stats:

                          • Offense: Team Average: .342, Total Runs: 234
                          • Pitching: Innings Pitched: 178, Team ERA: 1.25, Strikeouts: 196

                          Top Players:

                            • Connor Corbett, LF, 2025 (Ranked 117th)
                            • Tannar Patterson, 2B, 2025 (Ranked 173rd)
                            • Hayden Woodward, 1B/P, 2024 (Ranked 151st - Findlay commit)
                            • Kaden Green, SS, 2024
                            • Riley Baum, RF/P, 2024 (Ranked 362nd)
                            • Jaiden Dansby, 3B, 2024
                            • Wyatt Binckley, RHP/3B, 2024
                            • Conner Toomey, CF, 2024
                            • Paul Gould, C, 2024

                              Coach's Thoughts:

                              PBR: What did you and your team do this offseason and regular season to prepare yourselves for this point?
                              Coach: We prepared for the season in coordination with our strength and conditioning coach. Lee Montgomery

                              PBR: What are a couple of things you like about your team right now?
                              Coach: Our team practices and prepares with intent and focus.

                              PBR: Talk about the feeling when your team won regionals?
                              Coach: Excited to have the opportunity to compete against the two-time defending state champion.

                              PBR: Thoughts about being able to play in the state final four with a chance at winning a state championship?
                              Coach: We are excited to carry on the legacy of Heath Baseball.

                              PBR: Thoughts on the other three teams at the state?
                              Coach: Every team in the state tournament could win the title.

                              PBR: Anything else you would like to add?
                              Coach: We are excited to represent the community of Heath, Ohio where baseball is important.

                              2024 OHSAA Tournament: State Final Four Preview (15)#16 Waynedale

                              Record: 23-8
                              Head Coach: Lucas Daugherty (100-28)
                              Final Ranking: No. 16
                              Preseason Ranking: No. 1
                              Postseason History:

                              • State Final Four: 2016, 2022, 2023, 2024
                              • State Runner-up: 2016
                              • State Championship: 2022, 2023

                              Quick Hits:

                              • The only loss in while at state by Waynedale came in the D-III state championship game to Berlin Hiland.
                              • Waynedale defeated Hiland 3-2 in a regular season game this year.

                              Team Stats:

                              • Offense: Team Average: .294, Total Runs: 193
                              • Pitching: Innings Pitched: 203, Team ERA: 1.65, Strikeouts: 265

                              Top Players:

                              • Tate Venables, CF/P, 2024
                              • Cameron Miller, LF, 2027
                              • Shane Coblentz, 2B/P, 2025 (Ranked 282nd)
                              • Tristan Franks, C, 2025
                              • Otto Solorzano, P/DH, 2024 (Ranked 208th)
                              • Brayden Steiner, 3B, 2026
                              • Jordan Miller, SS, 2026
                              • Logan Troyer, 1B, 2027
                              • Hudson Barkman, RF, 2027
                              • Collin McGlothlin, 2B, 2026
                              • Brock Reifsnyder, DH/OF, 2027
                              • Kolten Roeder, P

                              Coach's Thoughts:

                              PBR: What did you and your team do this offseason and regular season to prepare yourselves for this point?
                              Coach: We have put in a lot of time in the batting cage, weightroom, and on the field. We played a challenging regular season schedule to prepare for tough opponents in the tournament.

                              PBR: What are a couple of things you like about your team right now?
                              Coach: I think we have multiple pitchers that are throwing well, and our defense has been strong behind them. Offensively we have been able to put up some big innings when we need it.

                              PBR: Talk about the feeling when your team won regionals?
                              Coach: It is an exciting feeling to win a regional and punch our ticket to go play for a state title.

                              PBR: Thoughts about being able to play in the state final four with a chance at winning a state championship?
                              Coach: This was one of our goals since the beginning of the season. It is not easy to get to this point, so we are going to enjoy the experience and give it our all.

                              PBR: Thoughts on the other three teams at the state?
                              Coach: All 3 teams have had great seasons! I know that they have all been playing some of their best baseball recently to still be in the tournament.

                              PBR: Anything else you would like to add?
                              Coach: I am excited to see our community come back out to Canal Park to watch some Waynedale baseball. We are blessed with a community that supports our team so much.

                              2024 OHSAA Tournament: State Final Four Preview (16)

                              Division IV Final Four Preview

                              • Fort Recovery vs No. 27 Hillsdale
                              • No. 3 Hiland vs No. 4 Russia

                              Fort Recovery vs No. 27 Hillsdale

                              FORT RECOVERY: The sixth-place finisher in the Midwest Athletic Conference is a state participant after entering the postseason with a 9-11 record. Caden Grisez had a five-hitter with seven strikeouts and Gavin Faller and Grisez each produced a double in a 5-1 win over Leipsic in the regional finals. Alex Dues allowed one earned run, Troy Homan and Faller both had three hits and Reece Wendel scored four runs in a 14-4 win over Montpelier in the regional semis for the unranked Indians, which last went to state in back-to-back seasons in 2015 and 2016 when Homan was the batboy. Wendel is the top hitter on the team with a .301 batting average while Dues is 7-3 on the mound for head coach Kevin Eyink, who is one win away from his 100th coaching victory.

                              HILLSDALE: Gavin Casdorph tossed a five-hit shutout, Braylen Jarvis had a single and triple and Brock Bower and Aiden Hoffman pounded out a pair of hits in a 3-0 win over Warren JFK, sending the Falcons to state for the first time since finishing as runners-up in 2019. Hillsdale, the 27th-rated team in the state, dominated Ashtabula St. John 16-1 in the district finals after rallying past Mapleton 9-6 in the semis.

                              No. 3 Hiland vs No. 4 Russia

                              BERLIN HILAND: The defending state champions, the third-ranked team in Ohio, will be making their sixth state appearance after an 18-0 demolition of Leesburg Fairfield in the regional finals. Hiland, which has never lost in the state semis, will take on Russia, a team the Hawks defeated 14-4 in last year’s state championship game. Hiland, which has outscored the opposition 76-9 in the tournament, has had just one close encounter in the postseason, an 8-5 victory over Strasburg-Franklin in the district finals. Trailing 5-3 in the bottom of the sixth, Cody Yoder hit a grand slam to put Hiland on top for good. Yoder leads the team in batting at .478 while Colin Coblentz is hitting .402, Caden Coblentz .369 and Brady Yoder .363. Caden Coblentz (8-1) and Finn Schneider (6-1) are the top two pitchers for head coach Chris Dages.

                              RUSSIA: The fourth-rated team in Ohio is back at state for the sixth time overall and third in a row. A seven-run six-inning proved to be the difference in a 12-3 win over Troy Christian in the regional title game, giving head coach Kevin Phlipot his 200th coaching victory. Leadoff hitter Felix Francis was 2-3 with three RBIs for Russia, which had eight hits, 11 walks and two HBPs in the win. Jude Counts was the winning pitcher for the Raiders, which won state in 2022 and finished second a year ago. Russia has won tournament games by a combined 61-9 this year, including a 20-1 win over Felicity Franklin in a game Ben Rinderle had a three-run homer, helping send the Raiders to its seventh consecutive regional appearance. Braylon Cordonnier, a junior committed to Marshall, has set the school record for career doubles (33), triples (9) and walks (70). Hayden Quinter holds the Russia mark for career hits (137) and Brayden Monnin for career runs (113), while Francis has established new records for runs in a season with 48 and stolen bases with 36. In addition to 2022, Russia won state in 1971 while placing second in 1975, 2017 and 2023.

                              For Fun Prediction:

                              Dylan Hefflinger

                              • Hillsdale over Fort Recovery
                              • Hiland over Russia
                                • STATE CHAMP - Hiland

                              Fan Vote:

                              • Fort Recovery over Hillsdale
                              • Russia over Hiland
                                • STATE CHAMP - Russia

                              2024 OHSAA Tournament: State Final Four Preview (17)Fort Recovery

                              Record: 15-12
                              Head Coach: Kevin Eynik (99-76)
                              Final Ranking:
                              NR
                              Preseason Ranking: NR
                              Postseason History:

                              • State Final Four: 1953, 2015, 2016, 2024
                              • State Runner-up: 1953
                              • State Championship: N/A

                              Quick Hits:

                              • Fort Recovery, which had a final record of 4-6 in the MAC, has a .230 team batting average.
                              • The Indians had scored more than five runs only five times before doing it three times in tourney play.

                              Team Stats:

                              • Offense: Team Average: .230, Total Runs: 143
                              • Pitching: Innings Pitched: 180.2, Team ERA: 2.63, Strikeouts: 186

                              Top Players:

                                • Troy Homan, RHP, 2024
                                • Reece Wendel, 2026
                                • Caden Homan, 2026
                                • Alex Gaerke, RHP, 2026
                                • Caden Grisez, RHP, 2025
                                • Gavin Faller, 2024
                                • Reece Evers, RHP, 2024
                                • Riggs Tobe, 2024
                                • Alex Dues, INF/P, 2024
                                • Sage Wendel, RHP, 2024
                                • Rex Leverette, RHP, 2024

                                  Coach's Thoughts:

                                  PBR: What did you and your team do this offseason and regular season to prepare yourselves for this point?
                                  Coach: The team has worked really hard at improving our approach at the plate and our hitting. Things have started to click at the right time. The difficult regular season schedule that we play has helped us be prepared come tournament time and helped us get to this point.

                                  PBR: What are a couple of things you like about your team right now?
                                  Coach: Right now I like the energy and togetherness of our team. Everyone is contributing and involved in the success we've been having.

                                  PBR: Talk about the feeling when your team won regionals?
                                  Coach: Everyone was obviously very excited after winning regionals and having the chance to compete at state. Myself, the coaches, and the community are extremely proud of these young men and what they have worked so hard to accomplish.

                                  PBR: Thoughts about being able to play in the state final four with a chance at winning a state championship?
                                  Coach: It is very exciting to have the opportunity to compete at state and be considered one of the best teams in the state in DIV. Everyone in the program works so hard to accomplish a goal like this and it is almost unreal that you have made it and have that opportunity to be state champions.

                                  PBR: Thoughts on the other three teams at the state?
                                  Coach: Hillsdale, Hiland, and Russia are all very good teams and it is an honor to be down to the final four with quality programs like these.

                                  2024 OHSAA Tournament: State Final Four Preview (18)#27 Hillsdale

                                  Record: 19-11
                                  Head Coach: Jay Snow (114-34)
                                  Final Ranking: No. 27
                                  Preseason Ranking: No. 33
                                  Postseason History:

                                  • State Final Four: 2019, 2024
                                  • State Runner-up: 2019
                                  • State Championship: N/A

                                  Quick Hits:

                                  • Hillsdale had a three-game losing streak this season and a four-game losing streak.
                                  • The Falcons finished third in the Wayne County Athletic League behind first place Norwayne and second place Waynedale.

                                  Team Stats:

                                  • Offense: Team Average: .337, Total Runs: 214
                                  • Pitching: Innings Pitched: 185.2, Team ERA: 3.54, Strikeouts: 131

                                  Top Players:

                                  • Jack Fickes, P, 2024
                                  • Brock Bower, 2B, 2026
                                  • Owen Hoffman, 3B, 2024
                                  • Braylen Jarvis, C, 2024
                                  • Kael Lewis, SS, 2027
                                  • Brady Heller, RF, 2026
                                  • Aiden Hoffman, LF/P, 2026
                                  • Gavin Casdorph, CF/P, 2024
                                  • Byron Bickel, 1B, 2024
                                  • Drake Stubbs, P

                                  Coach's Thoughts:

                                  PBR: What did you and your team do this offseason and regular season to prepare yourselves for this point?
                                  Coach: Kids worked on skills in the off season by playing travel ball, coming to open workouts and hitting and finding time to work on their own.

                                  PBR: What are a couple of things you like about your team right now?
                                  Coach: I love our guys confidence and focus right now. They are playing hard and enjoying the game.

                                  PBR: Talk about the feeling when your team won regionals?
                                  Coach: Excitement and pride flowed from our guys winning the regional championship. They had some ups and downs during the year, but have hit a positive stretch now. For me I am so proud of these young men.

                                  PBR: Thoughts about being able to play in the state final four with a chance at winning a state championship?
                                  Coach: This an amazing opportunity. We respect all the teams who have gotten to this point. We will bring our best, compete and see what happens. We look forward to the excitement and will leave it all on the field!

                                  PBR: Thoughts on the other three teams at the state?
                                  Coach: Obviously, everyone here has been playing good baseball. Every team has some amazing talent that will be displayed. We look forward to the weekend and all of us will enjoy the ride!

                                  PBR: Anything else you would like to add?
                                  Coach: I love our guys, their efforts and the support from the Hillsdale Community. We have a great community that supports our student athletes and is very proud of all of our students and athletes!!

                                    2024 OHSAA Tournament: State Final Four Preview (19)#3 Hiland

                                    Record: 25-5
                                    Head Coach: Chris Dages (146-29)
                                    Final Ranking:
                                    No. 3
                                    Preseason Ranking: No. 1
                                    Postseason History:

                                    • State Final Four: 2000, 2008, 2012, 2016, 2017, 2023, 2024
                                    • State Runner-up: 2000, 2008, 2017
                                    • State Championship: 2016, 2023

                                    Quick Hits:

                                    • Cody Yoder has 15 doubles this season, second all-time at Hiland. Yoder also has three triples and four home runs.
                                    • The shutout of Fairfield in the regional finals was the 12th of the year for the Hawks.

                                    Team Stats:

                                    • Offense: Team Average: .332, Total Runs: 227
                                    • Pitching: Innings Pitched: 188, Team ERA: 1.41, Strikeouts: 197

                                    Top Players:

                                      • Caden Coblentz, P, 2025 (Ranked 283rd)
                                      • Cody Yoder, 2024
                                      • Colin Coblentz, 2025
                                      • Brady Yoder, P, 2024
                                      • Kaden Kandel, P, 2025
                                      • Danny Hostetler, 2025
                                      • Grady Monigold, 2026
                                      • Logan Yoder, 2026
                                      • Connor Beachy, 2024
                                      • Finn Schneider, P, 2024

                                        Coach's Thoughts:

                                        PBR: What did you and your team do this offseason and regular season to prepare yourselves for this point?
                                        Coach: We had a very challenging schedule this year that I believe helped us prepare for the postseason. We challenged ourselves by playing some very good big schools and we were in every game we played.

                                        PBR: What are a couple of things you like about your team right now?
                                        Coach: The guys are hitting the ball really well right now and putting a lot of pressure on the other team. Our pitchers are also executing at a high level, commanding all their pitches and challenging the opponents hitters.

                                        PBR: Talk about the feeling when your team won regionals?
                                        Coach: I was extremely excited for the guys, they’ve been working really hard since the beginning of last summer to put themselves in this position. After our success last spring we knew it was going to be a battle to get back to this point, but everyone has risen to the challenge.

                                        PBR: Thoughts about being able to play in the state final four with a chance at winning a state championship?
                                        Coach: A state championship was our goal at the beginning of the season and has remained our focus throughout. Getting the opportunity to play at this level doesn’t come around too often but these guys have put themselves into the rare position of going back a second year in a row. We are taking nothing for granted and will do everything we can to compete with the other teams in Akron.

                                        PBR: Thoughts on the other three teams at the state?
                                        Coach: All the teams at this level are going to be extremely talented and well coached. Russia is here for the third year in a row and will be a formidable opponent. Hillsdale is in a tough conference and had a difficult region to battle through, while Fort Recovery seems to be playing very good ball right now. All three are going to be competing at a very high level.

                                        PBR: Anything else you would like to add?
                                        Coach: I am very grateful for the opportunity to coach these players and coach with my staff. They all work extremely hard and deserve this opportunity to bring a championship back to our community. The parents of our program and our community are extremely supportive of the team and give freely to provide our players with everything they need to be successful and have positive experience in high school athletics.

                                        2024 OHSAA Tournament: State Final Four Preview (20)#4 Russia

                                        Record: 27-4
                                        Head Coach: Kevin Phlipot (200-75)
                                        Final Ranking:
                                        No. 4
                                        Preseason Ranking: No. 5
                                        Postseason History:

                                        • State Final Four: 1971, 1975, 2017, 2022, 2023, 2024
                                        • State Runner-up: 1975, 2017, 2023
                                        • State Championship: 1971, 2022

                                        Quick Hits:

                                        • 7 consecutive District Championships, 3 consecutive Regional Championships.
                                        • Russia has never lost a state semifinal game in five previous appearances.
                                        • In 12 Shelby County League games this season, Russia gave up just 17 runs.

                                        Team Stats:

                                        • Offense: Team Average: .349, Total Runs: 292
                                        • Pitching: Innings Pitched: 187, Team ERA: 1.76, Strikeouts: 254

                                        Top Players:

                                          • Felix Francis, CF, 2024
                                          • Braylon Cordonnier, RHP/INF, 2025 (Ranked 71st - Marshall commit)
                                          • Brayden Monnin, SS/RHP, 2024
                                          • Hayden Quinter, 3B, 2024
                                          • Jude Counts, 1B/P, 2024
                                          • Zeb Schulze, 2B, 2025
                                          • Ben Rinderle, DH/P, 2024
                                          • Cooper Unverferth, C, 2026
                                          • Micah Grieshop, RF, 2025
                                          • Adam Hoehne, LF, 2024
                                          • Maddox Goubeaux, LHP, 2026

                                            Coach's Thoughts:

                                            No response

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                                              2024 OHSAA Tournament: State Final Four Preview (21)

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