In the world of math and numbers, .38 and 37% are just about the same — very close to the fraction 3/8, which is clearly less than half. Not that good when it comes to a winning percentage in high school baseball, for example.
However, in the case of Warren John F. Kennedy baseball, these figures — from two different categories of JFK season-long statistics — represent eye-popping data that “may” reflect whether or not the Eagles can slow down the prolific Fort Loramie running game in Saturday’s scheduled Division IV state semifinal.
The number one starting hurler, senior Cam Hollobaugh, has recorded a microscopic earned run average of 0.38 runs per seven innings pitched. Hollobaugh’s battery mate, freshman catcher Caleb Hadley, is nailing runners attempting to steal 37.1% of the time.
ScoresBroadcast.com and WMVR, 105.5 TAM FM, will cover what might be a strategy-filled contest between two fundamentally sound clubs. The pre-game segment online and on radio starts at 12:30 p.m. Both head coaches — Jeff Sanders of Fort Loramie and Jim Ciambotti of JFK — are featured. First pitch is at 1.
Both Hollobaugh and Hadley have picked “several” off first base, according to JFK assistant coach Patrick Mokros, who suggested his club “should be able to contend” with the speed and athleticism of the Redskins.
“Caeleb Meyer and the rest of those jackrabbits over there have been a nightmare for teams all season,” Mokros said. He added that a Fort Loramie walk or a bunt single can become “a double in a pitch or two.”
Meyer has now racked up more than 30 steals on the season. He has been caught only twice.
With, officially, 117 steals in 139 attempts as a team, the Redskins have made noise on the base paths all year. Four additional players have registered at least a dozen swipes. Jake Sanders, Trevor Middendorf, Derek Meyer and Evan Eilerman are right behind Caeleb.
The Fort Loramie-JFK state semifinal could be likened to the real-time strategy Google-play app game, Warpath. However, the game at Canal Park in Akron will be played on the “base path” instead. “Only the most ruthless and cunning commander,” or coach, has what it takes to emerge victorious in Warpath, its promotions read. Certainly, commanders Sanders and Ciambotti will match wits, or shrewd resourcefulness, on Saturday afternoon.
JFK’s double-H combo of Hadley and Hollobaugh both stand at nearly 6-2 and weigh in at about 210 pounds. Hollobaugh holds runners well and Hadley hurls strikes to second base.
“First things first. We will need to get on base to get the ball rolling. Then we will certainly try to do what we do best,” said Fort Loramie head coach Jeff Sanders.
So, it could be a cat and mouse contest.
Hollobaugh, who has won nine times in ten starts, is headed to Walsh University in Canton to play baseball and football. He throws on the mound in the low- to mid-80 mph range. He has utilized a full repertoire of pitches to strike out 87 hitters in 54 innings. An unearned run saddled him with his only defeat in early April.
JFK’s ace pitcher is the top hitter and slugger on the team. In the district semifinal, he singled, doubled and tripled, and drove in five runs. At the plate, Hadley swings with as much punch as Hollobaugh.
Starting on the bump for the Redskins is Caeleb Meyer, a perfect 8-0 on the season. He mixes outstanding breaking stuff that tumbles downward at the plate with a cutting and sinking, 79-80 mph fast ball. He has fanned 42 hitters in 47 innings. He has permitted only 30 base hits.
“Caeleb’s arm action and spin on the ball make him difficult to barrel up,” Sanders said. “And his pitch location is usually spot on.”
Meyer, Fort Loramie’s skilled senior catcher Darren Hoying, and the Redskins all-around solid defense may be tested occasionally by the JFK offense, which has stolen nearly 50 bases on the season. JFK’s Alex DeSalvo, a pesky lead-off batter who hits around .350, is a threat to swipe second when he gets aboard.
“Our version of small ball is not the magnitude of the Fort Loramie bunt and run game,” said Mokros. “Those guys can turn a base runner into a home run in the blink of an eye. We can’t be flat-footed.”
JFK’s formula for success: Hollobaugh and Hadley will have to be on their toes and steal the show.