Elder’s Rally Falls Just Short In DI Baseball Final

Posted on 6/20/2021 at 8:41 a.m.

Panthers Score Four Times In Sixth, Fall to New Albany, 6-5
After falling behind 5-1 after three innings and 6-1 heading into the bottom of the sixth, Elder put together a four-run rally and had the potential tying and go-ahead runs on base before being retired to trail by one run heading into its final at-bat.  That is how the game ended, with New Albany holding off the Panthers, 6-5, in the Division I championship game of the Ohio High School Athletic Association Baseball State Tournament last Sunday night in Akron.
All state tournament games were played at Canal Park, home of the Cleveland Indians’ Class AA affiliate Rubber Ducks in downtown Akron.  Elder was one of three teams from Greater Cincinnati advancing to the state semifinals.  Badin, a member of the Greater Catholic League Co-Ed Division, advanced to the DII semis, while Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy returned home with the DII title.

The loss snapped a seven-game win streak for Elder (25-9), which was making trip No. 21 to the state tournament and looking for its first title since 2005 and No. 13 in program history.  Elder was held to six hits, with senior Marco Sabato’s two-run single in the sixth making it 6-3 and sophomore Luke Vaughn adding a run-scoring single later in the inning to narrow the gap to 6-5.
After falling behind early, Elder got a strong relief effort from junior Chris Kammerer – who pitched the final 3.1 innings, allowing only one hit and holding New Albany (29-5) without a run.  But Elder was unable to mount a scoring threat in its final at-bat, giving New Albany its second state baseball crown and first since winning the Division III title in 2004.
It was a strong season for Elder, which finished tied with Moeller in second place in the GCL South Division this spring – one game behind league champion St. Xavier.  In the postseason, though, Panthers coach Mark Thompson notched career victory No. 600 in Elder’s 3-0 win against Beavercreek in the district final on May 27.  Elder then knocked off St. Xavier, 7-3, and highly touted Vandalia Butler, 4-1, in the regional semifinal and final, respectively.
Elder beat Toledo St. John’s, , in the state semifinals.

Grimmelsman Pitches Elder To DI State Final

Posted on 6/13/2021 at 8:14 a.m.

Senior Lefty Tosses Complete Game In Panthers’ 4-1 Win In Semis

Senior left-hander Jackson Grimmelsman, who held a powerful St. Xavier offense to just one run on five hits over six innings in Elder’s 7-3 win against its league rival in the regional semifinals, went one better early Saturday evening – tossing a complete-game, six-hitter to help lead Elder to a 4-1 victory against Toledo St. John’s Jesuit in the semifinals of the Ohio High School Athletic Association Baseball State Tournament at Canal Park in Akron.

Elder’s seventh consecutive win advances coach Mark Thompson’s team into the DI state final against New Albany (28-5), which defeated Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit, 6-2, in the second semifinal.  First pitch is 7 tonight at Canal Park in Akron, home of the Cleveland Indians’ AA affiliate, Akron Rubber Ducks.  Elder is vying to win its first state baseball championship since 2005 and No. 13 in the Panthers’ storied diamond history.  New Albany has one state title, winning the Division III crown in 2004.

The Panthers trailed Walsh Jesuit (24-7), 1-0, heading into the fifth inning, but came alive to score two runs in each of its next two at-bats on a total of seven hits to give Grimmelsman – a first-team, All-GCL South selection – more than enough run support.  In his last two starts, Grimmelsman has pitched 13 innings, allowing only two runs on 11 hits.

Grimmelsman, who needed only 83 pitches to record the complete game, also had a pair of hits along with sophomore third baseman Luke Vaughn, who drove in the game-winning run after Marco Sabato had tied the score to give Elder (25-8) its first run of the game.

Elder is back in the state final for the first time since 2010, when the Panthers fell to Lakewood St. Edward, 8-3, in the championship game.  The Panthers are vying to give the Greater Catholic League South Division its first state baseball crown since Moeller finished atop DI in 2015.

Elder Defeats Butler, Advances To State Semifinals

Posted on 6/11/2021 at 10:07 a.m.

Panthers Vying For Title No. 12 In Storied Baseball History

Junior Kellen Sandhas allowed just four hits while striking out eight, including the final batter he faced in the bottom of the eighth inning to help Elder hand highly regarded Vandalia Butler its first shutout loss of the season, 4-0, in the Division I regional final early Saturday afternoon at Day Air Field in Dayton.

The victory, Elder’s sixth straight, moves the Panthers to the DI Final Four of the Ohio High School Athletic Association Baseball State Tournament for the first time since 2010.  Elder (24-8) advances to face Toledo St. John’s Jesuit (24-6) in the semifinals at 4 p.m. Saturday at Canal Park in downtown Akron.  

New Albany (27-5) plays Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit (25-3) in the second semifinal at 7.  The winners meet in the state final at 7 p.m. Sunday.  All state tournament games are played at the home of the Cleveland Indians’ AA affiliate, Akron Rubber Ducks.  Elder is vying for its first state title since 2005 and No. 12 in the Panthers’ baseball history.

Badin, a member of the GCL Co-Ed Division, and Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy will also represent Greater Cincinnati in the state tournament, advancing to the semifinals in Divisions II and III, respectively.  They are scheduled to play semifinal games today.

Elder’s win against Butler, which had four All-Ohio players in its lineup and had posted a 3-1 win against the Panthers back on May 14, came one day after coach Mark Thompson’s team defeated Greater Catholic League South Division champion St. Xavier, 7-3, in the regional semifinals.  St. X wound up 6-3 in league play, with Elder and Moeller one game back at 5-4 in a tightly contested league race this spring.

In that game, senior Jackson Grimmelsman – another lefty starter for the Panthers – pitched six strong inning allowing one run on only five hits against a powerful St. Xavier lineup.  Elder coach Mark Thompson credits pitching coach Robb Thompson and senior catcher Brennan Martin with tremendous game plans and management against both St. X and Butler.

Offensively, Martin and senior Marco Sabato had two hits each, while Luke Vaughn and Grimmelsman also recorded one hit apiece in a game that was scoreless until the Panthers rallied for four runs in the top of the eighth.  Against St. Xavier, sophomore Luke Vaughn and seniors Martin and Zack Schlachter all had a pair of hits and two RBI.

For complete state baseball tournament information, visit the OHSAA website.

Moeller’s Postseason Streak Ends In Regional Final

Posted on 3/14/2021 at 7:51 p.m.

Centerville Earns First State Final Four Berth With Late Shot
It was a matchup between two of the Southwest Region’s top prep basketball teams, one that had dominated the state tournament for the past few years and another looking to make its first appearance in the Division I Final Four.  In the end, it was the team looking to take that next step that came up with the big play in the clutch.
Centerville junior Tom House nailed a lengthy three-point shot with seven seconds remaining to give his team a two-point lead, and the Elks were able to successfully defend Moeller on its final possession to secure a 40-38 victory Saturday night at Princeton High School and earn the Greater Dayton school its first trip to the state semifinals.  House’s game winner came while being guarded tightly by GCL South Defensive Player of the Year Evan Mahaffey.
The loss prevented Moeller from a fourth straight trip to the DI Final Four and snapped the Crusaders’ 26-game postseason winning streak that dated back to their 39-38 loss to Massillon Jackson in the 2017 state final.
Moeller, which won state titles in 2017-18 and 2018-19, was one step away from earning a trip to the semifinals last year before COVID-19 forced OHSAA officials to cancel the remainder of the tournament as the Crusaders awaited a meeting with Lakota East in the regional final.  Moeller has won four state titles in its storied basketball history.
Centerville (24-3), No. 4 in the final regular season Associated Press DI state poll, advances to meet top-ranked and undefeated Mentor (25-0) – which defeated Medina, 65-55, in its regional final – in one semifinal at 5 p.m. Saturday at the University of Dayton Arena.  Cleveland St. Ignatius faces Westerville Central in the other semifinal.  The state final is set 8:30 p.m. Sunday.
Junior forward Rich Rolf led Centerville with 14 points and eight rebounds, while House and sophomore guard Gabe Cupps – son of Elks’ coach Brook Cupps – each added 12 for the Elks, who lost to Moeller in the regional semifinals the last two years and were also beaten by the Crusaders, 71-58, on December 19 at Moeller.  Centerville lost to Wilmington and future University of Cincinnati standout Jarron Cumberland, 48-28, in the 2016 regional final.  That Wilmington team was coached by Mike Noszka, whose St. Xavier team lost to Moeller, 72-69, on Wednesday night.
But Moeller took a four-point lead early in the fourth quarter, before Cupps was fouled attempting a three-pointer and sank all three free throws.  Minutes later, Rolf tied the game with a three-pointer with 4:41 remaining.  Moeller regained the lead before Cupps three-pointer gave Centerville a 37-36 lead with 1:15 left.  Moeller jumped back in front on its next possession, with senior Alex Williams giving the Crusaders a 38-37 advantage.  Centerville proceeded to take the clock down until House connected on the game-winning three from the left wing.
Williams, who is slated to play at Furman University next season, led the Crusaders with 16 points. Senior Logan Duncomb, an Indiana University signee, added 14 points and 13 rebounds.  This also was the final game at Moeller for seniors Aidan Noyes and Aidan Turner, who were instrumental in the Crusaders notching another season with 20 victories.
This will be remembered as one of the strongest seasons in the GCL South, with St. Xavier (2), Moeller (3) and Elder (5) finishing among the top five teams in the final AP poll after ending in a three-way tie for the league championship.  All three advanced to the regional semifinals, while La Salle’s season ended with a loss to Elder in the district final.  St. Xavier (20-3) and Elder (20-4) were a combined 32-6 against non-league competition, while Moeller’s only non-conference defeats were to Centerville and two out-of-state teams.  Overall, the four GCL South teams finished with a combined 70-25 record, including a 58-13 mark against non-league opponents.  

Moeller Gets By St. Xavier In OT Semifinal Thriller

Posted on 3/13/2021 at 6:09 p.m.

Elder’s Bid For All-GCL South Regional Final Falls Short In Semifinals
It seems only fitting that the third meeting this season between two of the top three ranked teams in Ohio would need a little additional time to decide which teams would be able to advance to the regional final of the Ohio High School Athletic Association State Basketball Tournament.  And that is exactly what happened in the first of two Division I regional semifinals held Wednesday night at Princeton High School.
St. Xavier, ranked No. 2 in the final regular-season Associated Press DI state poll, and two-time defending champion and No. 3 Moeller, staged a memorable showdown between two rivals from the Greater Catholic League South Division – with St. Xavier rallying late in regulation to force overtime and then staging another comeback in the extra period before Moeller finally emerged with a 72-69 win to advance to the regional final.
Elder, the third member of the GCL South and No. 5 in Ohio, was vying to end Centerville’s lengthy winning streak and set up a third meeting against Moeller in the regional final.  But, after taking an eight-point lead into the locker room at halftime, the Panthers went cold in the second half and eventually fell to the Elks, 52-43, in the second semifinal at Princeton.
As a result, two teams with lengthy winning streak will attempt to win one more and earn a trip to the DI Final Four – which tips off next Friday at the University of Dayton Arena.  Centerville is riding a 13-game winning streak, including five straight in the postseason; Moeller, the two-time defending state champion with titles in 2017-18 and 2018-19 that made it to the regional final last year before COVID-19 forced OHSAA officials to cancel the remaining of the state tournament – has won 26 consecutive postseason games.
Moeller beat Centerville, 71-58, on December 19 at Moeller.  In that game, Alex Williams (25) and Logan Dunccomb (24) combined to score 49 points and grab 15 rebounds 11 by Duncomb.  The Crusaders also defeated Centerville in last year’s state tournament, posting a 54-42 win in the regional semifinals behind 35 combined points from Williams (18) and Duncomb (17).
Tipoff is 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Princeton.
To get there, it was anything but easy for Moeller (20-4) – lost to St. Xavier, 61-56, in the regular-season finale at home, the first defeat in Kenwood for Moeller since ironically Centerville defeated the Crusaders, 42-41, back on February 14, 2015.  The Bombers entered the regional semifinal as the hottest team in the league, having won 10 games in a row behind the play of Southwest District Player of the Year Kobe Rodgers and Joe Kirby, a first-team All-GCL South selection.
Kirby and Rodgers both had solid nights for St. Xavier (20-3), which had a perfect 16-0 mark this season against non-league competition.  Kirby led the Bombers with 26 points that included a barrage of late three-point goals to send the game into OT.  Kirby finished with seven three-pointers, while Rodgers added 19 points and six rebounds, while junior Louie Semona chipped in 11 points.
Seniors Williams and Duncomb, and Indiana University recruit, scored 21 and 19 points, respectively, for Moeller.  To lead four double-figure scorers.  Williams knocked down 7-of-11 field goals, including 3-of-4 from three-point range, while also grabbing six rebounds.  Duncomb made 7-of-8 field goals and finished with another double-double, grabbing a game-high 14 rebounds. Senior Aidan Noyes added 13, while junior Evan Mahaffey scored 10 for the Crusaders.
It was quite a season for St. Xavier under second-year coach Mike Nozka – whose team got better all season.  Its win against Moeller in the regular-season finale was the Bombers’ first against the perennial state contenders since 2006.  St. Xavier also knocked off Huber Heights Wayne twice, one in the regular season and again in the district final, and also beat Northern Kentucky’s top-ranked team in Covington Catholic.  Not to mention earning a share of the league title with Elder and Moeller – its first since 2005.  The district crown was the first since 2010.
This also was a tremendous season for Elder (20-4), which appeared in great position to advance to the regional final after taking a 22-14 lead into halftime against Centerville.  But it truly was a tale of two halves, as the Elks outscored Elder, 38-21, in the final two quarters to keep its winning streak alive.  Elder had its five-game winning streak snapped and also suffered a defeat for just the second time in 15 games.
Senior David Larkins was the lone Panther in double figures, finishing with 11 points and six rebounds.  And, despite not scoring at the same pace as it did in the first half, Elder still held a two-point lead heading into the final quarter after Centerville closed the third quarter on an 8-0 run.  However, in the final eight minutes, Centerville outscored Elder, 20-9, and made the most of its trips to the free-throw line.  Sophomore Gabe Cupps led Centerville with 16 points.