5 central Ohio storylines to watch entering OHSAA baseball district semifinals (2024)

The Central District baseball tournament has reached the semifinals, with the top seven seeds inDivision I still alive.

Semifinals take place Monday and Tuesday across all four divisions, with district finals beginning Wednesday.

Here are five storylines to watch entering next week:

5 central Ohio storylines to watch entering OHSAA baseball district semifinals (1)

1. Olentangy Berlin seeks first district title

Berlin’s special season has not been without adversity.

Seeking their first district title, the Bears (23-3) are the top seed in Division I for the first time. Their previous best seed was ninth last season.

Berlin has had a limited home schedule after March 14 storms damaged the school’s athletic complex, including the baseball field’s outfield fence, scoreboard and backstop.

“Us baseball guys are all superstitious,” coach Mike Weaver said. “We’ve talked about it as a program and with our guys what we’ve been through and able to overcome. We’ve been in some close games this year and our guys have battled through it because we’ve been through a lot. They feel like it’s their time.”

5 central Ohio storylines to watch entering OHSAA baseball district semifinals (2)

The Bears played their first 16 games on the road but still won their second consecutive OCC-Cardinal title. They will have two postseason home contests, including Tuesday against No. 18 Westerville North.

Berlin has been led on the mound by senior Taylor Bednar, an Akron commit who headlines a deep staff. He is 7-0 and has a 1.28 ERA with 75 strikeouts and 12 walks in 43 ⅔ innings.

Ascher Dent (1B) is batting a team-high .367, followed by Daniel Barreca (.354, CF), Parker McDaniels (.351, C) and Kyle Haag (.344, DH/P).

“Now that we’ve established (ourselves) as one of the better programs in Columbus, when we play other teams, we get their best and we usually see their (No.) 1 or 2 pitcher,” Weaver said. “We’ve seen great pitching all year and I think our pitching stands up with anybody.”

2. Grove City eyes trip to state tournament

Second-seeded Grove City hopes to get back to the Division I state tournament after losing the 2022 title game to Sylvania Northview and falling to eventual state runner-up Olentangy Orange in last year's regional final.

“Coming into this year, there were a lot of good teams, but there weren’t any teams that were absolutely sticking out that they were the 'for sure' teams,” said coach Ryan Alexander, whose team won its fourth consecutive OCC-Ohio title.

The Greyhounds (24-4) have been led by senior pitcher/first baseman Keegan Holmstrom, who set the program record for career wins in a 9-2 second-round tournament victory over Reynoldsburg. Holmstrom is 31-3 for his career, with one more win than 1958 graduate Ed Trent.

This season, Holmstrom is 8-0 with a 0.75 ERA and 41 strikeoutsin 37 ⅓ innings.An Ohio State commit, he also leads Grove City with a .481 batting average, followed by Gavin Lawler (.478) and Aaron Jamison (.450).

“Our pitching has been outstanding for the last two weeks,” Alexander said. “The most runs we’ve given up in the last two weeks is three runs in any game.”

The Greyhounds host 27th-seeded Westerville South on Monday.

“Our guys know if we don’t play our game, we can get beaten by anybody on any given day,” Alexander said.

5 central Ohio storylines to watch entering OHSAA baseball district semifinals (4)

3. Olentangy Orange looks to continue postseason success

Orange coach Tom Marker believes his team has the potential to return to the state tournament.

The Pioneers earned their first state berth last season. They lost to Cincinnati Moeller 4-1 in the title game after beating Whitehouse Anthony Wayne3-2 in nine inningsin a semifinal.

Orange (19-7) won the OCC-Central title and is seeded third in the district.

“They have their stylistic differences, but each team is really competitive in their own way when you compare last year to this year,” Marker said.

5 central Ohio storylines to watch entering OHSAA baseball district semifinals (5)

The Pioneers host No. 7 Big Walnut on Monday.

Keegan Knupp (3B/P) leads the offense, batting .371 with 30 RBIs and 23 runs scored. James Wimsatt (SS) is batting .333 with 27 runs scored and 15 RBIs.

On the mound, Nick Liberati is 5-1 with a 2.33 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 33 innings. Spencer West is 3-1 with a 0.97 ERA.

“We’ve been pretty consistent all year,” Marker said. “We tell them if you can be consistent, you have a chance to win games. This group is probably more consistent with the way that they play and approach each day. Last year we had a lot more ups and downs.”

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4. Pickerington Central enjoying banner season

Fourth-seeded Central (21-4) entered the postseason as winners of a second consecutive OCC-Buckeye title.

Central last reached a district final in 2018, falling 2-1 to New Albany. The Tigers also lost district finals in 2017, 2016, 2012 and 2009. They last won a district title in 2001, when there was only one high school in Pickerington.

“Winning (a district title) would mean everything to these guys,” coach Colin Wilson said. “These guys have worked really hard. We just keep working every single day working towards our goal, trying to get better.”

Jake Soha (P/1B/3B) is 6-0 with a 0.92 ERA, 38 strikeouts and 11 walks in 38 innings, and Colton Landtiser (P/SS/2B) is 5-1 with a 1.13 ERA, 67 strikeouts and 11 walks in 43 ⅓ innings.

Ben Thornberry (.492, 1B), Tyler Stalter (.365, OF/P) and Cael Kogge (.338, C) lead the offense.

Central hosts No. 12 Dublin Scioto on Tuesday.

“We’re not surprised, but we don’t take anything for granted,” Wilson said. “We know we’re going to get every team’s best.”

5 central Ohio storylines to watch entering OHSAA baseball district semifinals (6)

5. Watterson enjoying success in return to Division II

After reaching a Division I district final last season, Watterson hasn’t missed a beat in its return to Division II.

The CCL champion Eagles (22-1) are the top seed and host No. 7 London in a semifinal Monday.

“When you get to this point, all you’re looking at is what’s ahead of you,” coach Jeff Boulware said. “We weren’t really concerned with Division I to Division II. Division II is just a meat grinder this year with only having one (district champion). Division II is really tough. We’re in a good place.”

The Eagles have been led by senior pitcher A.J. McAninch, who is 7-0 with six shutouts, including a perfect game in a 12-0, six-inning win over Dayton Chaminade Julienne on April 6. The Marshall commit has a 0.28 ERA with 70 strikeouts and six walks.

“We have a veteran team,” Boulware said. “I like our mindset. I like how calm we are. A.J. McAninch is a big part of that. When he’s on the mound, our guys are very confident. When he’s up there, our guys respond.”

Nick Kudika is 6-1 with a 1.31 ERA and closer Ben Burleson is 2-0 with four saves and a 1.05 ERA.

John Baumel (1B) is batting .377 with 11 doubles and 24 RBIs, Burleson is hitting .359 and Chance Strausbaugh (LF) is batting .355 with 18 stolen bases.Burleson also plays catcher.

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Central District semifinals schedule

DIVISION I (all games 5 p.m. Monday)

  • No. 24 Hilliard Davidson (10-16) at No. 6 Dublin Coffman (18-9)

  • No. 7 Big Walnut (19-4) at No. 3 Olentangy Orange (19-7)

  • No. 27 Westerville South (14-14) at No. 2 Grove City (24-4)

  • No. 22 Hilliard Bradley (14-15) at No. 16 Watkins Memorial (14-7)

DIVISION I (all games 5 p.m. Tuesday)

  • No. 23 Upper Arlington (15-14) at No. 11 Pickerington North (17-9)

  • No. 18 Westerville North (13-13) at No. 1 Olentangy Berlin (23-3)

  • No. 12 Dublin Scioto (20-7) at No. 4 Pickerington Central (21-4)

  • No. 13 Olentangy Liberty (15-12) at No. 5 Mount Vernon (20-4)

FINALS:Davidson or Coffman vs. Big Walnut or Orange; South or Grove City vs. Bradley or Watkins Memorial; UA or Pickerington North vs. Westerville North or Berlin; Scioto or Central vs. Liberty or Mount Vernon

DIVISION II (all games 5 p.m. Monday)

  • No. 7 London (22-7) at No. 1 Watterson (22-1)

  • No. 5 Bloom-Carroll (18-11) at No. 2 Jonathan Alder (23-2)

FINAL:London or Watterson vs. Bloom-Carroll or Jonathan Alder

DIVISION III (all games 5 p.m. Tuesday)

  • No. 6 Newark Catholic (13-12) at No. 4 East Knox (19-4)

  • No. 11 Columbus Academy (12-16) at No. 2 Highland (23-3)

  • No. 13 Marion Pleasant (12-11) at No. 1 Heath (22-2)

  • No. 7 North Union (15-9) at No. 3 West Jefferson (19-5)

FINALS: Newark Catholic or East Knox vs. Academy or Highland; Pleasant or Heath vs. North Union or West Jefferson

DIVISION IV (all games 5 p.m. Monday)

  • No. 4 Mechanicsburg (16-5) at No. 1 Galion Northmoor (21-5)

  • No. 5 Marion Elgin (15-8) at No. 2 Fairfield Christian (20-7)

FINAL:Mechanicsburg or Northmoor vs. Elgin or Fairfield Christian

Southeast District semifinals


  • No. 16 Fairfield Union (13-14) vs. No. 9 Washington Court House (14-8), 4 p.m. Monday at Ohio University

  • No. 4 Jackson (22-4) vs. No. 5 Athens (18-6), 6 p.m. Monday at Ohio University

FINALS (Wednesday at OU):Fairfield Union or Washington Court House vs. Jackson or Athens; New Lexington or Waverly vs. Thornville Sheridan or Washington Court House Miami Trace



This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: 5 central Ohio storylines entering OHSAA baseball district semis

5 central Ohio storylines to watch entering OHSAA baseball district semifinals (2024)


5 central Ohio storylines to watch entering OHSAA baseball district semifinals? ›

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Under OSHAA rules, any 9th - 12th grader in Ohio can participate on varsity, JV or both.

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43Cincinnati St. Xavier1957
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Under the rule, games in which one team holds a lead of at least 10 runs would be halted after the fifth inning. Regulation high school games last seven innings.

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