Warren JFK rolls past Maplewood 6-1 in journey back to state

Staff photo / Brian Yauger Kennedy pitcher Jaden Rishel throws out a Maplewood runner at first during the team's 6-1 victory over the Rockets on Tuesday.

NILES — Over the last three years, Warren JFK has been inching its way back to state after taking the crown in 2021.

The Eagles took another step toward that goal on Tuesday, downing Maplewood 6-1, in a Division IV, Niles District semifinal.

Jaden Rishel led the way both at the plate and on the mound, with a trio of RBIs as well as eight strikeouts in the victory.

“It started with No. 27 (Rishel) on the mound,” Eagles coach Jim Ciambotti said. “We were lucky to have him today. He had some key base hits that allowed us to save the bullpen going into the seventh.”

Rishel got things going in the second, knocking home Michael Bartoe to put Kennedy on the board.

The senior has been an embodiment of Kennedy’s mentality in the Ciambotti era. Everything stems back to pitching and the defense that backs it up. Everything else works itself out.

“It starts with pitching and defense, just like the last three years,” Ciambotti said. “We’re very strong in the middle of the order, and we play a lot of complimentary baseball.”

He’s one of the only few remaining players from that state championship team. Rishel, Caleb Hadley, Michael Condoleon and Santino Ciambotti, each of whom were active contributors to the state title squad.

The team’s goal this postseason is simple: Get back to Akron and keep playing baseball as long as possible.

Having guys that have not only been there, but have won, has been an invaluable part of the Eagles’ success this season. Expect them to rely more and more on those names as the games get tougher.

“We have five seniors that have been through this before,” Ciambotti said. “We’ve been telling them ‘Don’t make it end.'”

That’s been the expectation every year since 2021. The 2021 Eagles raised the bar significantly, and each year’s team since then has been fighting to get back to that point.

“Winning the state title in my first year really set the bar high,” Ciambotti said. “We’re slowly trying to get back there, but we have three really tough games ahead before we can try and do that.”

Maplewood’s season ends at 14-5. The team’s lone run came in the top of the sixth with freshman Zach Suba knocking home Ethan Nelson.

“We played well,” Rockets coach Mark Treveline said. “We hung in there. We left a few too many guys on base, but hey, that’s baseball. We were respectable. That’s what we wanted to be. We played well. We were a gutty team tonight.”

With just three seniors, the Rockets look to make a return next season and further grow as a team.

“Well, that’s up to them,” Treveline said. “We’ve got a lot of hard work to do to elevate our game a little bit more. It’s tough. You’ve got to work. Got to work during the summer and fall. It’s up to them.”

Kennedy looks to keep its Akron ambitions afloat, when it takes on Mineral Ridge in the district final on Thursday. Start time against the Rams is set for 5 p.m. at Waddell Park.

Have an interesting story? Contact Brian Yauger by email at byauger@tribtoday.com. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, @_brianyauger.


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