After returning from the 60-day disabled list, I was only able to cover a few h.s. baseball games this season. Add in that we have Kevin Lynch covering Holmes County and it was a rare opportunity for me to see West Holmes in a regional semifinal. I couldn’t have been more impressed.
The Knights completely overmatched Miami Trace, before beating Richmond Edison to reach the state tournament. And even though I’ve seen them just once, that was enough to see the Knights appear to have it all. Pitching, with a pair of ace lefthanders in Gabe Snyder and Dillon Baird, hitting, with area average leader Joey Gonzalez in center the best in an order that can hit 1-through-9, and fielding — West Holmes makes the routine plays, and its opponents found out what can happen when those plays aren’t made.
West Holmes enters state having allowed four runs in its last four tournament games — one in each. Now, obviously, the other three teams in the Div. II field are also on a roll. Thursday’s semifinal foe, Wapakoneta, knocked off state No. 1 and then-30-1 Defiance in the regional final, and has a pitcher that has given up one run in his last 45 innings. DeSales is only the defending state champ and has every starter from that team back, while Lake Catholic won both of its regional games with walkoff hits, including a two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh to beat Canfield 4-3 for a state berth.
But the Knights have the pieces to win it all. You don’t have to watch them many times to see that, and I’ll be there Thursday morning.