STATE CHAMPS STORE
Moe Baseball Headed to Columbus
May 26, 2012Cincinnati Moeller High School
Moeller’s baseball team is going back to state.
By defeating Elder 6-4 in an action-packed Division I regional championship Friday at the University of Cincinnati’s Marge Schott Stadium, the Crusaders punched their ticket to a fourth state semifinal in five years.
Moeller faces Grove City in Thursday’s 7 p.m. semifinal at Huntington Park in Columbus.
The Crusaders celebrated their regional title by cheering and hoisting a trophy, but junior Spencer Iacovone said it was a hard putting the sentiments into words.
“I can’t explain it,” said Iacovone, who scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the fourth and provided insurance with a sacrifice fly RBI in the sixth. “It’s going to be great going to Columbus and playing the next game.”
Moeller and Elder met in the 2010 state semifinals but tournament restructuring prior to this season narrowed Cincinnati’s districts from three to two. The elimination of a Cincinnati district in Dublin forced the Greater Catholic League foes to battle in the regional for the city’s lone Final Four bid.
And what a battle it was. The teams, which split in the regular season, combined for 18 hits and 10 runs in a back-and-forth affair that left fans on pins and needles from start to finish - on the heels of Brian Burkhart's no-hitter against Anderson a day earlier.
Elder’s David Haley started his 3-for-4 day with a first-inning double that plated Anthony Asalon. Jimmy White brought Haley home for a 2-0 Panthers lead.
Iacovone answered with a sacrifice fly RBI in the bottom of the first and the Crusaders took the lead in the second with the crack of Riley Mahan’s bat. The sophomore tripled to center field and drove in Brad Macciocchi and Nick Edwards for a 3-2 advantage.
Joe Ramstetter, who took over on the mound for Elder in the third inning, provided a timely offensive boost in the top of the fourth.
His double to left field yielded two RBI, knotted the score at four, and triggered a Moeller pitching change. Left-hander Phillip Diehl relieved starter John Tanner.
The Panthers never scored again.
Diehl, a University of Evansville signee, stymied some batters with his curve ball and the Crusaders’ defense did the rest.
Moeller sophomore Zack Shannon broke open the game with a double to deep right field in the bottom of the fourth. As the Panthers corralled a ball that bounced off the fence, Iacovone scampered home for a 5-4 lead.
“Anytime we were hitting I felt like we were up by more but anytime Elder was hitting, I felt like we were losing,” Moeller coach Tim Held said. “Both teams were just slugging each other back and forth. To come back right away and get that fifth run and get the momentum back on our side was absolutely huge.”
Two innings later, Iacovone delivered the sacrifice fly RBI that sealed the 6-4 win and snapped the Panthers’ six-game winning streak.
Elder coach Mark Thompson anticipated a potent Moeller lineup, but said the Crusaders looked even sharper than they had in the regular-season meetings.
“Their hitters are so good,” Thompson said. “We made a couple really good pitches in the spot we wanted and they just rode it.”