The Ohio High School Baseball Season officially starts this weekend (Saturday, March 29). Here’s who we see opening as the state’s top teams in each division.
Division IV Preseason Poll
No. 1 Newark Catholic
Newark Catholic and head coach John Cannizzaro finished 2013 with a 24-10 record, thanks to a demanding schedule. The Green Wave won its 7th state championship, 5th since 2002, last season with a 2-1 win over New Middletown Springfield, as seen here.
Newark Catholic is a powerhouse in Ohio and in 2014 they look to capture their 8th state championship. The Green Wave are led by Bowling Green State University commit Hunter Nance (5-10, 175-pound, OF, pictured right). Seniors Mike Lohr (5-10, 175-pound, INF, leadoff hitter) and Sean Thomas (6-2, 215-pound, RHP) look to bring the Green Wave winning attitude on at off the field. Thomas will be looked upon to possibly be the ace of the staff.
As underclassmen go, Mitch Lohr (So, 6-0, 165-pound, catcher) and juniors Gabe Morris (6-2, 185-pound, RHP, chance to be ace of staff. pictured left) and Rob Engle (5-9, 175-pound, SS) are ready to take the next step in the 2014 season. Jack Wollenburg (So, 6-1, 165-pound, INF) transferred in from Ottawa Hills and Nick Cavinee (So, 6-6, 205-pound RHP/1B) may contribute for the Green Wave in 2014.
Newark Catholic is entering the Licking County League in 2014 which will be a new experience after being in the Mid-State League in the past.
No. 2 Tinora
The Tinora Rams and head coach Brent Renollet look to improve on a 19-8 record in 2013. The Rams fell to New Middletown Springfield (who has moved up to D-III this season) in the D-IV state semifinals 13-7 as seen here.
The Rams have been to state three years in a row and with eight starters returning from last season, there is no reason not to think Tinora will make it back to Columbus for a fourth year in a row. The Rams have also won six straight GMC outright championships, 10 sectional championships, three district championships and three regional championships in a row.
Tinora is led by a trio of talented seniors, unsigned senior Derek Drewes (6-0, SS, .405 BA, 26 runs, 31 RBIs, 7 doubles, 2 triples, 17 walks, 3 Ks, 1st team All-state football and basketball this season, pictured above), unsigned senior Reid Renollet (6-0, LHP/OF, .473 BA, 36 runs, 7 doubles, 4 triples, 19 walks, 5 Ks, 1.56 ERA, 18 Ks, 18 innings, 1st team All-State football this year and baseball last season, pictured right) and Clay Pittman (San Jacinto, TX JUCO commit, 6-0, C/RHP, .512 BA, 35 runs, 46 RBIs, 12 doubles, three HRs, 26 walks, 2.19 ERA, 52 Ks, 44.2 innings, 1st team All-State last season, pictured left).
Junior EJ Kissel (5-11, RHP/INF/C, .435 BA, 39 runs, 9 SB, 21 Ks, 13.1 innings) and sophomore Brevin Renollet (6-3, 3B/RHP, .391 BA, 10 SB, 29 RBIs, 2.83 ERA, 24.2 innings) will provide athleticism and skill in the field, on the mound and at the plate.
Other key contributors include Dakota Stark (So, 6-0, INF), Izzy Martinez (pitcher), Logan Bailey (So, 6-5, first baseman), Reid Anders (So, INF/OF/P), Mathias Grube (So, P/UTIL) and Logan Dickerson (Sr, 5-10, OF)
No. 3 Cuyahoga Heights
Cuyahoga Heights and head coach Marc Lowther finished 2013 with a 14-9 record. The Redskins fell to New Middletown Springfield 6-3 in the regional finals.
Xavier University commit Zac Lowther (6-2, 210-pound, LHP, 0.55 ERA, 8-2, 145 Ks, 76 innings, pictured left) is one of the top pitchers in the state, let alone division IV. When Lowther is on the mound, Cuyahoga Heights has a great chance to win the game.
Along with Lowther, the Redskins look to be a senior laden squad as Dylan Denner (6-0, 170-pound, SS, .263 BA), Trent Gallo (5-9, 150-pound, OF, .240 BA, 12 SB), Tyler Gallo (5-9, 150-pound, C, .250 BA, 9 SB) and Nick Orr (5-7, 155-pound, second baseman) look to bring leadership and experience to Cuyahoga Heights.
The Redskins will look to a pair of juniors and a sophomore to round out the ball club. Juniors Craig McDaniel (5-11, 170-pound, OF) and Grayson Thacker (5-10, 175-pound RHP/UTIL) will bring athleticism while sophomore RHP Michael Hartman could be a surprise on the mound this season.
No. 4 Sidney Lehman Catholic
In 2013 Dave King and the Sidney Lehman Catholic Cavaliers finished with a 20-8 record. The Cavaliers fell to Arcanum 8-4 in the district finals.
Sidney Lehman Catholic is a perennial power in Ohio and the 2014 season shouldn’t be any different as the Cavaliers return seven starters from a 20 win season in 2013. Despite returning seven starters, the Cavaliers are still young in 2014 as senior Drew Westerheide (5-10, 160-pound, OF, .371 BA) is one of the lone seniors on the team.
The Cavaliers are led by an athletic junior class which is headlined by a talented trio, Greg Spearman (5-11, 170-pound, 3B/SS, .398 BA, 46 runs scored, 51 SB, HM All-State), Cole Profitt (6-0, 175-pound, P/C/1B, .359 BA, 26 RBIs, 5-1, 1.88 ERA) and AJ Hemmelgarn (6-0, 155-pound, RHP/SS, .347 BA, 26 RBIs, 7-2, 3.50 ERA, pictured right).
Sidney Lehman Catholic also has a talented sophomore and freshman class led by their ace on the hill, Nate Bosway (5-10, 195-pound LHP/1B/OF, 6-2, 1.71 ERA, 61 Ks, 53 innings). Max Schutt (So, 6-0, 160-pound, C/OF, .329 BA), Parker Riley (Fr, INF/RHP), Cole Hofmann (Fr, INF/RHP/C) and Dylan Arnold (Fr, INF/OF/P) also look to provide a spark to an already talented ball club.
No. 5 Convoy Crestview
Jim Wharton and the Convoy Crestview Knights finished the 2013 with a 19-8 record. The Knights fell in the state semifinals to the eventual state champions Newark Catholic 9-1 as seen here. Crestview athletics has had an impressive 2013-2014 year, as the Knights went 29-0, capturing the D-IV basketball state championship game and also had a solid football season.
On the baseball field, the Knights return seven starters from the state final four team, led by IPFW commit Damian Helm (6-4, LHP, 9-1, 1.36 ERA, 79 Ks, 6 BB, NWC PoY, 1st team All-State, pictured left). Seniors Bryce Richardson (5-9, 170-pound, SS/RHP, 5-0, 1.96 ERA, .350 BA, 1st team All-NWC), Cameron Etzler (5-11, 170-pound, CF/RHP/SS, .279 BA, HM All-NWC, singed with Anderson University for basketball) and Isaiah Simerman (6-0, 183-pound, RHP/INF, 1.68 ERA, .300 BA, 25 RBIs, HM All-NWC) look to provide leadership.
The Knights will also sprinkle in some underclassmen, led by three-year starter behind the plate Nathan Owens (Jr, 5-10, 190-pound, catcher). Jordan Roop (Jr, 6-0, 215-pound, 1B/LHP), Colby Clifton (So, LHP/1B) and Jordan Miller (sophomore) provide athleticism to an already athletic squad.