Circleville vs Wapakoneta Baseball State Semi Preview

The (23-1) Wapakoneta Redskins have given good reason for being the top-ranked Division 2 team in the Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association Poll. They have compiled impressive stats in their climb to the State Semifinal, where they will meet the (19-10) Circleville Tigers at 4pm Friday at Huntington Park in Columbus. 

94 Country WKKJ and it's iHeart Radio stream will have the action, with airtime at 3:45pm.

The Tigers have been the "Cinderella" of the post-season. After a slow start in the regular season, the Tigers have been red-hot, winning 15 of their last 17 games. In the tournaments, they upset top seed Zane Trace, #2 seed Unioto and two-time defending regional champ Steubenville along their path to the Final Four.

Wapakoneta suffered their lone loss of the season in their regular season finale to Saint Henry. 

The Redskins have gotten the job done at the plate as well as in the field. On offense, the Redskins have a robust team batting average of .378, compared to Circleville's respectable .296 team average. They have more than doubled the number of runs scored by the Tigers at 215-106. They have out-hit Circleville 232-152 and have 8 home runs while the Tigers have 1. 

Ten of the Redskins players are hitting at an average of .300 or higher. Five of those players are hitting over .400, with Virginia Military Institute signee Don Goodes hitting .593 with two home runs, 14 doubles and 30 RBI's.  

Circleville's leading hitter is Butler University commit and catcher Garrett Gray at .386 with 1 homer and 25 RBI's. Jake Mancini is next at .354 with 20 RBI's.

The pitching stats for the Redskins is also impressive. They have a team earned run average of only 1.07- although Circleville also possesses an impressive 1.94 ERA.  Wapakoneta's pitchers have fanned 236 batters, compared to the Tigers 93. Although Wapo has walked 75 batters where the Tigers have only given up 50 walks. 

In 544 at-bats against Wapakoneta, their pitchers have yielded only 86 hits. Circleville pitching has yielded 130 hits. 

Both coaches, Brian Bigam of Circleville and Jason Brandt of Wapakoneta said they feel comfortable going with any of 3-4 pitchers as a potential starter in the semifinal. 

The stats indicate the top two arms are Wapakoneta senior Gage Schenk who is (8-0) with an ERA of 0.84. He has 61 strikeouts and walked 16 batters.  

Circleville's Jake Mancini has been the Tigers ace with a record of (4-1) with an ERA of 0.97 with 35 strikeouts and only 7 walks.

Starting pitching decisions are still to be announced.

While the stats look lop-sided toward Wapakoneta, Circleville has shown throughout the tournaments that they are a team that can't be counted out. The lone question remains is whether the Tigers still have more magic in their history making season, as they became the first Pickaway County High School Baseball team to advance to the State Final Four. They are believing they can take that to the next step as the county's first baseball state champs.

In a telephone press conference Wednesday, Coach Brian Bigam said the Tigers slow start began to turn-around after a “wiffle ball game” among team members in their field house one night. Bigam said the players had “fun and showed enthusiasm” while playing the impromptu game. He said they seemed to build off that night and played much more relaxed from then on.

Like sports, life takes strange turns sometimes and you never know what it might take to help players see the value of one another and their coaches. Who knew that a wiffle ball game could come to mean so much?

Good luck Tigers!!

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