In terms of league championships, the 2014 baseball season went pretty much as expected. Come tournament time, however, there were a few surprises.
As predicted by their respective league coaches in the preseason, Start, St. John’s Jesuit, Perrysburg, Lake, and Wauseon each won league titles, with Perrysburg (21-7 overall, 11-4) sharing the Northern Lakes League crown with Anthony Wayne (21-9, 11-3).
But in tourney play, surprising Southview (18-11, 6-8), which tied for fourth place in the NLL, was the last area team standing in Division I. Coach Ed Mouch’s Cougars beat three league champions in tournanent play before falling 3-1 to eventual state runner-up North Royalton in a regional final.
Bryan (21-9, 5-3), which tied for third in the Northwest Ohio Athletic League, reached a Division II regional final before falling in a superb pitcher’s duel to Sandusky Perkins, 1-0 in 10 innings.
Toledo Christian (22-7, 10-2) captured a Toledo Area Athletic Conference title after being picked in the preseason coaches’ poll to place fourth. The Eagles of first-year coach Tab Greenlee also reached the Division IV regional semifinals before falling to eventual state champion Tinora 12-1.
Also in Division IV, NWOAL runner-up Patrick Henry (21-10, 7-1) was the last area team alive, falling to Tinora 14-0 in the regional final.
St. John’s (23-3), which was ranked 10th in the final Division I state coaches poll, took an early exit from tourney play via a 2-1 upset loss to Southview in a district semifinal.
But the Titans of second-year coach Greg Christian were 10-0 in Three Rivers Athletic Conference regular-season play, then went 3-0 in the TRAC playoffs, beating rival St. Francis 5-1 in the conference championship game.
Coach Dave Hall’s Perrysburg Yellow Jackets made an even earlier tourney exit, falling to coach Mark Nell’s Anthony Wayne squad 3-2 in nine innings in a D-I sectional final. AW’s Generals, riding a 13-game late-season winning streak, reached the regional semifinal before falling 3-1 to Southview.
The first league winner Southview had knocked off was City League champion Start (18-10), which went 9-1 in CL regular-season play, then beat Bowsher 2-0 in the City championship game. The Spartans of coach Jason Biniker lost 1-0 to the Cougars in a sectional final.
Southview senior pitcher Alexander Theiss was 3-0 in tourney play, allowing just two total runs in 21 innings, all against league-championship teams.
Lake, behind standout senior pitcher Jayce Vancena, was the only area outright league champion to also reach the regional level in tourney play.
Coach Greg Wilker’s Flyers (27-4, 13-1) edged Genoa (20-7, 12-2) for the Northern Buckeye Conference title after splitting their two NBC games. Genoa’s loss to Eastwood cost the Comets a share of the conference crown.
Lake beat Archbold 6-4 in a Division III district final but lost 3-2 to Huron in the regional semifinal.
It was the only loss of the season for Vancena (8-1, 0.79 ERA, 106 strikeouts in 62 innings), who was selected by the Texas Rangers in the 26th round of the Major League Baseball draft.
NWOAL champion Wauseon (21-6, 8-0), coached by Trent Thomas, was eliminated in Division II district semifinal by Defiance.
All-Ohio first-team honors went to Wauseon senior pitcher Ty Suntken in Division II, to Vancena (NBC batting champion at .478) in Division III, and to Gibsonburg infielder Sam Kohler (.506 batting average, 35 RBIs) in Division IV.
Suntken — who was 7-1 pitching with an 0.14 ERA and 85 strikeouts in 51 innings and won the NWOAL batting title (.458 average) — was named Ohio D-II player of the year.