By Tom Williams
With six state championships and 13 appearances at state to their credit, the Newark Catholic Green Wave are to Ohio’s Division IV baseball teams what Ursuline is to the Division V Region 17 football teams — mostly dominant.
But even powerhouses slip once in a while. Four years ago, Springfield, powered by Todd Kibby’s arm, defeated Newark Catholic, 5-3, in the state semifinals.
Today’s rematch at noon at Huntington Park will determine the 2013 state championship.
Both teams won big in Friday’s semifinals. Newark Catholic (23-10) pounded Convoy Crestview, 9-1, while Springfield (21-7) rallied from a 6-2 deficit to overwhelm Defiance Tinora, 13-7.
“They are a fantastic program, their coach does a great job,” Springfield coach Matt Weymer said of New Catholic’s Ed Clark, who has a 400-158 record in 18 seasons. “They are here all the time.”
Weymer said the Green Wave will use Mitch Cox on the mound.
“He has a great arm,” Weymer said. “They will be the best team we’ve played all year, which is kind of what you expect going to the state championship game.
“When you get to the last year game of the year, anything can happen,” Weymer said. “We’re going to have to be flawless.”
After Friday’s victory, Weymer admitted that “right now, Sunday is a blur about who we’re going to pitch or what we are going to do.”
“Hopefully I have an epiphany tomorrow or sometime, that something becomes really clear to me because right now it’s just a cloudy mess,” he said.
Friday’s starter was Dalton Donachie, who gave up six runs in four innings, but earned the win. James Hillyer relieved him in the fifth inning, allowing just one run.
Tournament rules limit pitchers to 10 innings over three days. Donachie has six innings of eligibility and Hillyer seven.
Weymer also uses Sawyer Stevens and Jordon Peterson on the mound.
After playing a round of golf and conducting practice at Grove City High School on Saturday, Weymer said he’s still waiting for his epiphany.
“I really don’t know at this time,” Weymer said of today’s starter.
Cox’s challenge will be to shut down the top of the Tigers’ batting order. In Friday’s game, leadoff batter Eoghan Bees, a senior, reached base five times and scored three runs. He walked three times and doubled in the fourth inning when the Tigers scored five times to take a 7-6 lead.
Sophomore Ryan Koehler’s four hits included a triple and double that drove in runs. In his first at-bat, Koehler twice tried to lay down a sacrifice bunt. With two strikes, he sent the ball to deep right field.
“I knew I had hit it hard, but I didn’t think it was going to go that far,” said Koehler, who took third after right fielder Dylan Rumbaugh misplayed the ball. “I love baseball and playing in Columbus just [enhances] it. The best thing for a baseball player is to play here.”
Senior Cody Pitzo’s three hits included a double and he scored two runs and drove in two. Junior Joe Wrask was on base three times, Jojo Carabello scored twice and Hunter Snyder had two RBIs.
Pitzo is the only starter back from the Tigers’ 2011 state runner-up team. Asked to compare experiences, Pitzo said Friday’s win “felt even better because we came back” from the huge deficit.