The state semifinal opponent of Fort Loramie (28-4) won its big game in the round of the Elite Eight much like the Redskins did.
With relief! The bullpen for Warren John F. Kennedy (20-9) fired shutout baseball last Saturday for the third through seventh innings.
Ace Cam Hollobaugh threw a complete game four-hitter in Friday’s region semi. So, JFK turned to its number two hurler, freshman Jaden Rishel, who was then backed up for four-plus innings by junior Gavin Shrum. Displaying pin-point control, Shrum blanked Tiffin Calvert and whiffed four to close out the 7-2 victory.
The Redskins got their relief in the form of junior Derek Meyer, who sparkled with 5 1/3 innings of stellar bullpen work. He allowed no runs and only a couple hits versus Russia.
Pitching depth could be a factor in Saturday’s Division IV state semifinal at 1 p.m. at Akron’s Canal Park. If starters Caeleb Meyer of Fort Loramie and JFK’s Hollobaugh get roughed up a little in a high scoring affair or rain interrupts the game a time or two and triggers pitching changes, the bullpens will make the difference.
ScoresBroadcast.com will be online with the play-by-play and color at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday. WMVR, 105.5 TAM FM, will simulcast.
JFK is an extremely youthful club that features six freshmen, a full roster of only eleven and a lone senior, Hollobaugh.
“A turning point last Saturday was Shrum shutting down Calvert’s bats which had generated a quick 2-0 edge,” said first-year JFK coach Jim Ciambotti, a Youngstown Cardinal Mooney graduate who previously coached in the Youngstown B League and for competitive summer baseball associations.
Similarly, Meyer, a crafty lefty for the Redskins, was sharp against the Raiders.
“Derek is like a bulldog out there,” said fourth-year coach Jeff Sanders of Fort Loramie. “The change of speeds and movement coming from different angles can make Derek tough to square up. Once he got the momentum and the 4-1 lead over Russia, he wasn’t going to let go.”
While JFK doesn’t possess the speed of Fort Loramie, it has a quick strike offense led by the 6-2 Hollobaugh. During an eleven pitch at-bat, he crushed a mammoth homer off the top of Strongsville High School to tie up the game with Calvert.
“We thought we had him struck out on a good pitch away,” said Matt Coleman, the Calvert coach. “Cam simply powered the baseball high and far to right field. You just tip your cap to a superb hitter like that.”
Freshman catcher Caleb Hadley is another serious offensive threat for JFK. He smacked two hits versus Calvert. Shrum, Aidan Rossi, and Alex DeSalvo each knocked in a run.
Senior Hollobaugh and the 15 year old Hadley post averages better than .440 for the season. In the district championship victory, Hollobaugh fanned seven hitters and Rishel cracked four hits.
JFK batted for only 12 innings in its three sectional and district tourney triumphs, taking each one by ten runs or more in 4 1/2 frames.
The Eagles played a heavyweight schedule versus D-I Warren Harding and an array of D-II and D-III foes, such as Benedictine, Beachwood, Canfield, Cardinal Mooney, and Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin.
This 2021 baseball campaign concludes an incredible school year for JFK’s boys squads. The basketball and football teams also advanced to regional play.
Meanwhile, the Redskins try to bring down the Eagles with a wave of juniors and seniors.
“With three and four years under their belts, including 32 more games this season, our guys want to use their experience as an advantage at the state tournament,” Sanders said. “We have a lot of respect for Hollobaugh, JFK’s young talent, and the difficult schedule that baseball program has played.”
Since 1985, Fort Loramie baseball teams have won seven regional championships. They earned state titles in 2007, 2010, and 2018, the first year for Coach Sanders.
The Redskins are hitting at a .349 clip as a team. Jakes Sanders is tops at .449; Mack Fortman, .415, Evan Eilerman, .408; Derek Meyer, .368; Caeleb Meyer, .359; and Darren Hoying, .347. Fortman was the Shelby County Player of the Year in baseball.
Caeleb Meyer now displays an earned run average on the hill right at one earned run for every nine innings pitched. The Fortman and Derek Meyer ERA’s are at 1.4 and 1.6, respectively.
JFK sports a team batting average of .319.
Friday’s Akron weather forecast is improving. Only a slight chance of showers is predicted. Saturday and Sunday should offer plenty of sun.
The D-IV championship tilt is set for Sunday at 4 p.m.
Lucasville Valley and Van Wert Lincolnview tangle in the Saturday, 10 a.m, state semifinal.