By Tom Gamble, GCL South Commissioner
A pair of one-run victories, the latest a 2-1 win in 10 innings over St. Xavier Monday night at the Panther Athletic Complex, has Elder off to an unbeaten start and holding a half-game lead over Moeller in the Greater Catholic League baseball standings. Elder and Moeller are set to play on a big stage Wednesday night, facing each other at 5 p.m. as part of a GCL South doubleheader in the Skyline Chili Reds Futures High School Showcase at the University of Cincinnati’s Marge Schott Stadium. La Salle will oppose St. Xavier in the second game that night, at 7:30.
Elder (7-0, 2-0 GCL South), which takes a night off from league play to travel to Edgewood for a 5 p.m. game today, defeated St. Xavier when senior Drew Kearns worked a bases-loaded walk to score the game-winning run. Senior Danny Nieman gave the Panthers seven strong innings, allowing just four hits and one unearned run while striking out seven, while junior Clay Hodge picked up the win in relief. Left-hander Joe Auburger, the Bombers’ junior starter, also turned in an outstanding game, limiting the high-powered Elder offense to only four hits and one run in seven innings.
Before Monday’s extra-inning win, Elder opened league play with a 2-1 victory at La Salle last Friday. In that game, junior Kyle Klingenbeck started and tossed five shutout innings, earning the win to move to 3-0 this spring. Hodge threw a scoreless sixth before giving way to junior Aidan Byrne, who overcame two Panther miscues to earn his second save, striking out the final hitter with the potential tying and winning runs on base. Elder coach Mark Thompson said the combination of Klingenbeck and relievers Hodge and Byrne has been a sensational combination for the Panthers in the early season.
In that game, Elder scored all the runs it would need in the top of the first with seniors Nieman and Max Lenhardt picking up runs batted in for Elder – which has now outscored the opposition, 23-9, in its seven games. Lenhardt and senior Drew Klaserner, sporting .438 and .410 averages, respectively, have led Elder offensively early in a season that has been slowed by miserable spring weather. Moeller (6-2, 1-0) should provide a good test for Elder, having won its last two games – including a 6-0 win against La Salle behind a complete-game, eight-strikeout performance from senior Mo Schaffer at Schuler Park on Monday night.
The Crusaders – who got three hits in the game from seniors Tyler McDonough and Cameron Swanger – are 5-0 against teams from Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, their lone setbacks coming against out-of-state teams during a trek over Spring Break last week to Georgia. Before facing Elder on Wednesday at UC, Moeller travels to defending GCL South champion St. Xavier (3-3, 0-1) at 5 p.m. today. The Bombers have dropped three of their last four against tough competition, losing to Louisville St. Xavier, Hamilton Badin and then the GCL South opener to Elder.
La Salle (5-3, 0-2) lost its first two GCL South games, with a doubleheader sweep of West Clermont on Sunday wedged in between league contests. The Lancers do not have a scheduled game today before Wednesday’s GCL South DH in the Reds High School Showcase. Advance tickets to the DH are available today and Wednesday at the participating schools for $5. Each ticket is good for both games and includes a voucher good for a free ticket to a select 2018 Reds’ game, along with a coupon good for a free Skyline Chili cheese coney at participating restaurants.
Tickets also will be available at the Marge Schott Stadium Box Office on game day. The Skyline Chili Reds Futures High School Showcase presented by Cincinnati Children’s Sports Medicine & Orthopaedics celebrates is seven-year anniversary this spring, annually showcasing the GCL South in a DH. Previous GCL South games have been played at either UC or Prasco Park in Mason. For additional information on the Showcase, visit www.reds.com/hsshowcase.