Eleven Must-See OHSAA Baseball District Semifinals

CLEVELAND, Ohio — The OHSAA baseball district semifinals begin Monday and continue Tuesday, followed by title games to conclude the week.

A few upsets shook the sectional finals, including Normandy’s 7-6 win Thursday against St. Edward to set the stage for the Division Strongsville District.

Here are 11 of the best games around Northeast Ohio that will set the stage for the district championships:

All district semifinals are scheduled for Tuesday.

Strongsville (14-13) vs. Normandy (10-12), 1 p.m. at Strongsville: Jimmy Rockow’s mammoth home run sent the Invaders on their way to upset St. Edward, the No. 3 overall seed in the western super district, at Baldwin Wallace. Ben Rabatin gave Normandy six innings on the mound and production at the plate, while Dylan Skidmore picked up the save to deny the Eagles in the seventh inning. That sends them to Strongsville, where either the Invaders or Mustangs — playing on their home field — can continue a Cinderella run. Normandy is the 21st seed, while Strongsville is 14th and led by Wright State commit Gus Gregory at shortstop. Gregory scored three times with two hits and four steals in Strongsville’s 11-4 win at Wooster in the sectional finals. Mitch Szymczak and Nathan Kowalski homered for the Mustangs, advancing them to the first half of a district semifinal doubleheader that also will bring Avon Lake and Wadsworth to Strongsville. Division I district championship games are scheduled for Thursday.

Avon (18-5) vs. Amherst (14-13), 1 pm at Brunswick: The Eagles already own two wins earlier this month against their Southwestern Conference rivals, 4-1 and 6-1 en route to clinching the SWC crown. The Eagles needed Gavin Ehrhardt’s walk-off single Thursday to edge Brunswick, 2-1, and prevent the Blue Devils from returning to their home field for the district semifinals. Ehrhardt also pitched a complete game, giving up just one hit with five strikeouts. The familiar foe that awaits in Amherst just beat another SWC rival in North Ridgeville with a 5-2 win that required Giles Little’s third-inning double to provide a spark and score two runs. Leadoff hitter George Gotsis added two runs, two steals and an RBI for the Comets. The winner of this third matchup between the second-seeded Eagles and Amherst will play North Royalton or Westlake.

Wadsworth (17-5) vs. Avon Lake (14-9), 4 p.m. at Strongsville: Left-handed Akron commit John Allen gave the Grizzlies six innings Thursday in their 9-0 win against Midview. He gave up just two hits and struck out eight, sending the Suburban League champions into this matchup with the 10th-seeded Shoremen. Avon Lake is capable of making a deep run, owning a victory this season against St. Edward and coming off a 10-0 sectional win against North Olmsted. Dominic Poltrone picked up the victory, striking out seven with one hit in 4.1 innings, while Drew Graham provided three runs and two RBI on 2-for-2 hitting in the No. 3 spot of the Avon Lake lineup.

North Royalton (14-5) vs. Westlake (18-3), 4 p.m. at Brunswick: Great Lakes Conference champion Westlake heads to Brunswick, coming off a 7-3 win against Barberton in which Hugh Sullivan again paced the Demons’ victory. He pitched a complete game with six strikeouts. At the plate, he drew a bases-loaded walk in the fifth that allowed Westlake to score the go-ahead run. They now face another Suburban League power in North Royalton from the National Division with Alabama commit Gavin Jones. The Bears dispatched Copley, 10-5, in their sectional final.

Medina (17-8) vs. Highland (14-8), 5 p.m. at Brookside Park: Wright State recruit Joey Valentine struck out 16 and gave up just two hits Thursday in a 5-0 win for Medina against Olmsted Falls. The Bees now travel to Brookside Park, where St. Ignatius is hosting these district semifinals, to play the Hornets. This all-Medina County matchup comes with the Hornets securing a 7-5 comeback win at Elyria. Aaron Filips’ three-run double helped sparked the rally, as he finished with four RBI on 2-for-4 hitting from the No. 8 spot. Both of his hits gave the lead to Highland. The winner will face top-seeded St. Ignatius (19-6) or Shaker Heights (12-8) on Thursday in their district final.

All district semifinals are scheduled for Monday.

Chagrin Falls (16-10) vs. Revere (12-12), 2 pm at Revere: Leo Fornara tossed a no-hitter with 13 strikeouts Wednesday in the Tigers’ 8-0 win against Coventry. He broke the school record for strikeouts in a season, according to coach Michael Sweeney, with 96 and passing Bob Shutts with 94 back in 1963. Revere won, 8-3, at St. Vincent-St. Mary to earn a trip back to its home field. Ryan Shimek and Devin Donich paced the Minutemen with two RBI and two runs each. The winner will face top-seeded and state-ranked Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy or Cloverleaf on Wednesday in the district final.

Tallmadge (17-8) vs. Holy Name (13-8), 2:30 pm at Twinsburg: Senior pitcher Jackson Schwalbach picked up his sixth victory on the season Wednesday in the Blue Devils’ 22-2 win vs. Cleveland Central Catholic. The Blue Devils come in as the No. 2 seed in their super district, while Holy Name is 16th, but capable after a close call against Division I powerhouse St. Ignatius and one of the area’s top arms in Miami (Ohio) commit Connor Preisel. The winner here faces University School or Buckeye.

Archbishop Hoban (13-7) vs. Bay (12-11), 5 p.m. at North Ridgeville: The defending state champions have won three straight since a 1-0 loss to University School. That includes back-to-back 10-0 wins against Barberton and Akron Springfield, which served as the Knights’ tournament opener. Bay is the 19th seed, but opened the postseason with a 12-1 win at Padua. Junior center fielder Evan Bottone has been on a tear. He hit 3-for-3 with five RBI and three runs against the Bruins and has 17 hits in his last 25 at-bats with 13 runs, nine RBI and eight steals. The district championship will be Wednesday against Norton (14-9) or Beachwood (14-10).

University School (19-7) vs. Buckeye (16-9), 5:30 pm at Twinsburg: Junior Kent State commit Evan Shapiro threw seven strikeouts and improved to 8-0 Wednesday in the Preppers’ 8-0 sectional win vs. Navarre Fairless. Joey Zigman drove in three runs on two hits to pace the offense. the no. 4 seed faces Great Lakes Conference power Buckeye, which bounced back from two regular-season losses to Westlake for the GLC title and Cloverleaf to eliminate Lake Catholic with a 6-0 shutout.

All district semifinals are scheduled for Monday.

Elyria Catholic (15-8) vs. Black River (15-6), 5 p.m. at Copley: A four-run sixth pushed the Panthers to a 13-3 win against Trinity, which continued from Wednesday’s suspension into Thursday, only to be ended via mercy rule. Freshman catcher Taylor Belza and Nick Thoman each drove in three runs for Elyria Catholic, which faces Lorain County League power Black River. The Pirates shut out Wellington, 7-0, in their all-LCL matchup behind Hunter McJunkins’ seven strikeouts in five innings. The winner advances to Wednesday’s district championship against Hawken, Villa Angela-St. Joseph or Canton Central Catholic. VASJ (12-5) faces Canton Central Catholic on Friday to determine the other district semifinal vs. Hawking (15-4).

All district semifinals are scheduled for Tuesday.

Columbia (14-7) vs. Dalton (11-10), 5 p.m. at Medina: Andrew Champagne deals 10 strikeouts Thursday in the Raiders’ 11-1 win vs. Rittman. The Raiders now face the Bulldogs, who advanced with a 7-1 win vs. Ashland Mapleton to set the stage for this district final four at Medina, which includes top-seeded Jeromesville Hillsdale (20-4) vs. fourth-seeded Mogadore (8-4) in Tuesday’s first game. The winners will meet Thursday for the district crown.

Contact sports reporter Matt Goul on Twitter (@mgoul) or email (mgoul@leveland.com

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