HAMLER, OH – Four of the final sixteen teams in Ohio in Division 4 will be in action Thursday afternoon beginning at 2pm at Patrick Henry High School in Hamler, Ohio.
The Putnam County League champion Kalida Wildcats (22-1) will take on New London (24-3), champions of the Firelands Conference in the opening contest. Following the conclusion of that game the Fort Recovery Indians of the Midwest Athletic Conferece (20-8) will take the field against the Green Meadows Conference’s Ayersville Pilots (18-8) at approximately 5pm.
Kalida enters the Regional semifinals having won 18 consecutive games since suffering their only loss of the season, a 2-0 setback to Arlington April 12th while their opponents have won 16 straight since falling to Brookside in game two of a doubleheader 11-5 on April 16th.
Left handed Senior pitcher Austin Swift has been the driving force for the Kalida Wildcats on the mound this season as the two time reigning PCL Player of the Year has amassed 102 strikeouts in addition to his .14 earned run average. A terror on the mound, Swift is committed to Indiana Wesleyan and will get an opportunity to play the field as well as he patrols centerfield for the Cats when not on the bump. Usually to be found with a bright green bat as his weapon of choice, Swift is hitting .397 and is tied for the team lead in RBI with battery mate Jeff Knueve.
Outside of Swift on the mound the Wildcats lean on a pair of PCL 1st team selections in right hander Trent Gerding (29.1 IP, 16 strikeouts, .91 ERA), and left handed throwing Brady Laudick (20 IP, 29 K’s, 1.05 ERA) who is headed to play college baseball at the University of Toledo.
New London brings a pair of aces in their own right into their first Regional Semifinal appearance for 3rd year mentor Tony Hamilton in Justin Chaffins (6-2, 1.65 ERA, 46 K’s), and 2015 Firelands Conference Pitcher of the Year Ryan Lane (9-0, .56 ERA, 89 K’s).
Offensively the New London Wildcats are led by D.J. Yates (.417) who leads the Firelands Conference in home runs (2) and RBI with 37. Senior infielder Nathan Thomas, the conference leader in batting average (.507) has driven in 20 while swiping 27 bases in 29 attempts.
Hear the contest live on at 2pm with myself and Todd Walker live: Zsportslive.com
All four teams are led by a spectacular 1-2 punch on the mound and Fort Recovery is no exception as they are led by the duo of Jackson Hobbs and Cade Wendel.
This season Hobbs has pitched 53.1 innings in 10 games and has amassed a 6-2 record while striking out 49 opposing hitters while keeping his ERA at .92. Wendel is 6-1 on the mound with a save and a 1.08 earned run average and has struck out 33 in 32.1 innings pitched.
On the offensive end the Indians, who defeated Minster 1-0 in their District Final last week have five hitters slugging out a .300 average or higher led by Nick Thwaits at .386. Jacob Homan and Ross Homan have each clubbed home runs for Fort Recovery this season but the Indians have done a terrific job of bringing in hitters in scoring position and as a team have 161 runs batted in of their 196 scored.
Ayersville finished off their run to the Regionals with a 7-6 win over Edon. The Pilots finished off the Green Meadows Conference part of their year at 6-1, and bring a 18-9 mark into Thursday’s contest.
Senior Jack Goonan leads the Pilots with 25 RBI while batting .337, one of six Ayersville players to hit that mark or higher. Jake Miller, a junior batting .393 has stolen a team high 31 bases and has been thrown out just twice on the bases by opposing catchers.
Goonan (4-2, 1 SV, 1.20 ERA), Jacob Kahle (4-2, 6 SV, 1.63 ERA), and Eric Engel (8-3, 69 strikeouts, 48.66 IP, 1.58 ERA) lead a pitching staff that totals just a 2.34 run per game average that at times has been dominant against opponents offensive units.
Ft Recovery vs Ayersville 5pm start: K94.3 FM Celina
Thursday’s winners will play one another on Friday at 5pm back at Patrick Henry High School in Hamler for the right to go to the State Final Four next weekend in Columbus.