By Tom Gamble, GCL South Commissioner
Moeller extended its winning streak to 15 with a 6-2 victory against Vandalia Butler in a district final of the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division I State Baseball Tournament Sunday afternoon at Hamilton High School. Moeller will be joined in the regional semifinals by Greater Catholic League South Division colleague Elder, after the Panthers edged league rival St. Xavier, 5-4, at Princeton High School. The result is a matchup between the two GCL South teams in Thursday’s regional semifinals. First pitch is 2 p.m. at the University of Cincinnati’s Marge Schott Stadium.
The second semifinal is Mason (24-5), winner of eight straight games including a 13-3 victory over Northmont in the district final Sunday at Princeton High School, against Centerville at 5. Centerville (17-10) defeated Loveland, 4-1, on Monday at Hamilton in a game that started on Sunday, was suspended because of inclement weather and resumed in the bottom of the fifth inning and Centerville ahead, 2-1. The Elks extended the lead to earn their first back-to-back district championships in program history. Centerville has won six consecutive games.
The regional championships is set for 5 p.m. Friday at UC.
The GCL South will be represented in the regional final; the question is which league team will advance. Moeller (24-6), which has won 15 consecutive games after a 3-2 loss to Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy back on April 20, is 3-0 against Elder this spring. The Crusaders won the first meeting, 3-1, on April 11 as part of the Skyline Chili Reds Futures High School Showcase at UC. The loss was Elder’s first of the season after opening 8-0. Moeller then won 10-0 on April 30 and followed with a 9-2 victory on May 2, a victory that clinched the GCL South title outright for the Crusaders.
Moeller trailed Butler 2-1 entering the fourth inning in its district final before scoring three times to take a 4-2 lead, adding another run in the fifth, and then plating an insurance run in the top of the seventh. The Crusaders defeated a young Butler team that entered the game having won nine of its last 12, including an upset of No. 1 seed Springboro in the district semifinals.
Jake Pacetti was the starter and winning pitcher for the Crusaders, allowing three hits and one earned run while striking out four in 4 1/3 innings. Seth Logue picked up his first save by allowing just one hit and no runs in the final 2 2/3 innings. Cameron Swanger had two doubles and three RBI for Moeller, while Taylor Hopkins had a two-run single and Ryan Galanie added an infield single to score another run in the decisive fourth inning. Logue also contributed a double.
Elder (21-8) also lost two of three games to St. Xavier during the regular season and, after one-half inning, the Bombers appeared on their way to another win after taking a 4-0 lead. But Elder battled back to score a pair of runs in both the bottom of the first and second innings to make it 4-4. The score remained the same until the bottom of the fifth. Elder’s TJ Kearns was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, and Ryan Marr followed with a double to put runners on second and third with no outs. St. Xavier’s Joe Auberger struck out the next two hitters before pinch hitter Miles Bush delivered what turned out to be the game-winning single to score Kearns.
After allowing four runs in the top of the first, Elder starter and sophomore Colton Sandhas settled in to allow just two hits while striking out six through 5 2/3 innings. With two outs in the top of the sixth, St. Xavier designated hitter Nathan Kappers singled and Mitchel Lutz was then hit by a pitch – putting two on with two outs. Senior Danny Nieman relieved Sandhas and recorded the third out on a deep fly to left field and then set down the side in order in the top of the seventh – fanning two of the three hitters he faced – to preserve the sixth straight win for the Panthers, who won their first district title since 2012.