By Tom Gamble, GCL South Commissioner
One day earlier, Moeller rallied from an early 2-0 deficit against Greater Catholic League rival Elder to emerge with a 3-2 victory in nine innings and earn a berth in the regional final of the Ohio High School Athletic Association State Baseball Tournament. And early Friday evening, the Crusaders found themselves in a similar position – trailing Mason, 3-0, after just two innings. Once again, Moeller was able to rally back and make it 3-2 heading to the final three innings, but the Crusaders were unable to overtake the Comets and eventually fall by that score in the Cincinnati Region final at the University of Cincinnati’s Marge Schott Stadium.
The loss ends Moeller’s winning streak at 16, with the Crusaders (25-7) having not lost previously since a 3-2 setback to Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy on April 20. The win moves Mason (26-5), champion of the Greater Miami Conference and winner of 10 straight games, to the DI Final Four next weekend at Huntington Park in downtown Columbus. The Comets – making their first appearance in the state semifinals since 1987 – will play Whitehouse Anthony Wayne (25-4), the Bowling Green/Parma Region winner after knocking off Strongsville, 10-2, in its regional final. First pitch is 1 p.m.next Friday.
Medina Highland (19-9), the Canton Region champion, meets Powell Olentangy Liberty (28-4), the Dublin Region winner, in the first semifinal at 10 a.m. The state championship game is set for 4 p.m.next Saturday.
It was another outstanding season for Moeller, which won the GCL South Division championship outright with a 7-2 record, finishing one game ahead of defending champ St. Xavier. The Crusaders swept the GCL South postseason awards released today, with Tim Held being named Coach of the Year, senior catcher Tyler McDonough voted Player of the Year, and senior right-hander Mo Schaffer receiving Pitcher of the Year honors. Schaffer pitched all nine innings of the Crusaders’ 3-2 win against Elder in Thursday’s semifinals to end his final season with a perfect 9-0 record.
Against Mason, Moeller was unable to get much going offensively against starter and winning pitcher Rollie Sheriff – who went five innings and allowed four hits and two runs. Vanderbilt University signee Nick Northcutt relieved and struck out four in two innings for the save. Mason scored all the runs it would need in the first two innings. Evan Haas smacked an RBI single to give the Comets a 1-0 lead in the first inning, and coach Curt Bly’s team scored twice in the second inning – one run on a sacrifice fly by Northcutt and the second on a home run to right field by Harrison Johnson that landed in the Fifth Third Arena construction.
But Moeller, which entered the postseason ranked No. 2 behind Mason in Greater Cincinnati, came back again – scoring twice in the fourth inning on RBI hits by Ryan Galanie and Schaffer, the Crusaders’ cleanup hitter who made it 3-2. Taylor Hopkins led off the inning with Moeller’s first hit off Sheriff. Junior starter Jack Pacetti went the distance for the Crusaders, shutting down Mason after allowing runs in the first and second innings. He wound up surrendering six hits while striking out five Comet hitters.