In the final version of the OHSBCA Poll, Minford and Clay ultimately maintained their standing inside the top-15 of the OHSBCA Division III and IV Baseball Polls, while Wheelersburg, who joined Minford inside the top 15 of the OHSBCA Division III Baseball Poll, moved up four position to No. 15 on Monday afternoon as the trio continued to hold rankings among the state’s elite programs.
Minford, who has exceeded all expectations with a unit that has just one senior starter in its top nine, sits with a 20-2 overall record entering Thursday’s Division III, Chillicothe I District Semifinal bout.
The Falcons — who moved back slightly to No. 13 following an 8-6 loss against Zane Trace, accumulated 34 points in the final week of the polls. Minford ultimately defeated Athens (12-10) and Zane Trace (6-4 in the first meeting) in road bouts to start the year, and didn’t look back from there on as Minford pounded Adena in a home doubleheader (12-5 and 9-2) and have added two scintillating walkoff victories over Wheelersburg (9-8) and Waverly (5-4 in 12 innings) since that time, which were huge in Minford’s SOC II Championship.
A 13-0 victory over South Webster on May 3 ultimately wrapped up the first outright SOC II Championship since 1968 for the school in the sport after the Falcons clinched a share of the SOC II title with a 15-5 victory over West back on April 27. Ethan Lauder threw a perfect game in the victory over the Jeeps. The Falcons defeated Chillicothe Huntington, 9-0, on Saturday afternoon to reach the district stage.
The play of freshman Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis has been nothing short of electric, but the stable leadership that Luke Lindamood and Ethan Lauder have proved, along with Brayden Davis’ and Darius Jordan’s abilities to get on base and execute in hit-and-run situations, have been huge for the Falcons, who also sport competitive gamers in Reid Shultz, Bailey Rowe, Payton Davis, and Nathan McCormick, among others.
Clay, who held its No. 13 in the Division IV Poll, is 18-6 after accumulating two victories over Division III competitors Wellston (6-0) and Rock Hill — the latter an extremely impressive 5-3 victory over the outright Ohio Valley Conference Champions. The Panthers, who have won 11 games by at least 10 runs or more, finished the SOC I slate with a 10-2 overall mark. Clay edged Notre Dame, 1-0, in a splendid pitching duel between Dakota Dodds and the Titans’ CJ Corns to reach the Division IV, Chillicothe I District Semifinals.
Along with Dodds, Reece Whitley, and Keith Cottle have proven themselves as excellent two-way players — with Whitley already notching a no-hitter in a contest against South Webster — while Bradley McCleese, Shaden Malone, Evan Woods, Tanner Richards, Clay Cottle, and McGwire Garrison, among others, have all impressed in a lineup that has more capable starters than it does actual positions on the field. The Panthers ultimately collected 14 points in the final week of the poll.
The ever-reliable Pirates, have continued to execute the day-to-day little things that Michael Estep has harped on and look to be regaining form as the season enters do-or-die time.
In addition to handing Minford its only conference loss by taking a 9-6 victory at Wheelersburg, the Pirates own victories of 6-5 and 3-2 over Waverly, a strong 5-3 victory over the No. 4-ranked unit in the OHSAA Division II realm in Unioto last Monday, and have also recorded wins over Ashland (Ky.), 6-2, and Morehead (Ky.) Rowan County, 10-6, this year en route to a 15th-place mark in the final week of the poll. Wheelersburg defeated Chesapeake, 10-2, in the Division III, Chillicothe II Sectional Finals to reach the district stage.
Again, Wheelersburg is led by a deep pitching staff that includes Matt Marshall, Cole Dyer, and Trey Carter, among others such as Evan Dahm, Connor Mullins, and Jalen Miller. Dyer, who has hit 15 home runs and sits second in school history in that category — just two away from the school record of 17 — leads a powerful lineup that also includes Carter, Miller, Mullins, Dahm, Jaydren Guthrie, Athan Temponeras, and ever-improving catcher Jarrett Stamper, in addition to guys like Will Darling, Cole Ratcliff, and Josiah Richendollar.
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @KColleyPDT