By Tom Gamble, GCL South Commissioner
Elder and St. Xavier both posted victories Thursday night in the Ohio High School Athletic Association State Baseball Tournament, setting up a meeting between the two Greater Catholic League South Division members to see which team will advance to next week’s Division I regional semifinals. Moeller, the GCL South champion and third league team still alive in the postseason, had its game against Kings postponed because of inclement weather and will attempt to play again at 5 p.m. today at Foundation Field located on Front Street in Hamilton.
Meanwhile, Elder and St. Xavier will meet for the fourth time this season at 2 p.m. Saturday at Princeton High School in one of four Southwest District championship games scheduled that day. Elder (20-8) won its fifth straight with a 2-1 victory against West Clermont at Princeton High School. St. Xavier (17-9) also got outstanding pitching in its 5-0 win against Badin at Hamilton High School – avenging a 12-4 loss to the Rams early in the regular season to advance to the district final for the second consecutive year. St. Xavier won two of three games against Elder during the regular season; the Bombers defeated Lebanon, 6-0, in last year’s district title game.
Pitching was the catalyst for both Elder and St. Xavier in the district semifinals. The Panthers got a complete-game performance from senior Kyle Klingenbeck, who allowed a powerful West Clermont offense a single run in the sixth inning but then retired the Wolves in order in the seventh to nail down the win. Senior Brandon Myers and junior Ryan Marr each had two hits for the Panthers, while Marr and junior Ben Burke drove in runs in the third and fourth innings, respectively, to increase Elder’s record against non-league opponents to 18-1. The only non-GCL South team to defeat Elder this spring is Kings, which posted an 8-3 win against Elder on April 19.
For St. Xavier, senior Nathan Kappers upped his record to 6-1 this season and a school-record 19-3 in his varsity career by pitching 6 1/3 innings and allowing just three hits to a potent Badin offense while striking out seven to lower his earned-run average to 1.16. Senior Drew Klare got the final two outs for the Bombers, who broke open a scoreless game in the top of the fourth inning when senior Mitchel Lutz doubled down the left-field line with the bases loaded to give Kappers all the support he would need. Leadoff hitter Grant Kirby had two of St. Xavier’s six hits. The Bombers made it to the regional final last spring before losing to Lakota West, 2-1.
Moeller (22-6), which has won 13 consecutive games, and Kings (22-7), winner of seven straight, hope that the rains hold off today and the district semifinal can be completed. The game was suspended Thursday and will resume with Moeller coming to bat in the bottom of the first inning and no score. The winner advances to meet Vandalia Butler (18-11) in a district final at 11 a.m. Saturdayat Hamilton High School. Butler moved on with a 4-3 win against Springboro yesterday at Northmont High School.
Mason will meet either Northmont or Troy in another district final, while Loveland will oppose either Beavercreek or Centerville in the final district title game. The four district winners advance to next week’s regional semifinals.