District Baseball: Newark Catholic slips by Cardington, going to first regional since '19

·4 min read

MOUNT VERNON — Maybe if it was figure skating, gymnastics or snowboarding, the Green Wave would have been in trouble. Fortunately, baseball doesn't require style points, just a scoreboard.

Top-seeded Newark Catholic scratched its way to a 4-2 victory over No. 6 seed Cardington in a Division IV district championship game Wednesday night at Mount Vernon Nazarene University.

"Anytime you win, it don’t make any difference. It don’t make a dag-gone bit of difference," longtime Newark Catholic baseball coach John Cannizzaro said.

Newark Catholic, ranked No. 4 in the latest state coaches poll in Division IV, was pushed all evening by Cardington.

"It’s a compliment to us. With a team like that, you have to get within a puncher’s chance," Cardington first-year coach Ryan Goetzman said. "We did. Unfortunately, we came up a little short, but we came within a puncher’s chance and gave ourselves a chance for that. (I'm) beyond proud of these guys."

Newark Catholic's captains pose with the Division IV district championship trophy after knocking off Cardington 4-2 Wednesday night at Mount Vernon Nazarene University.
Newark Catholic's captains pose with the Division IV district championship trophy after knocking off Cardington 4-2 Wednesday night at Mount Vernon Nazarene University.

The Green Wave scored a run in the bottom of the second inning, but Cardington answered in the top of the third with two runs on three hits to take the lead.

Newark Catholic tied it in the bottom of the third inning after a single by Bryan McAnally and later a balk. The Green Wave took the lead in the fifth inning after a Tanner Elwell single and error, a sacrifice bunt and a wild pitch.

It went to 4-2 in the sixth after a Grant Moore bunt single with one out and a steal followed by an RBI single from Elwell.

"Hat’s off to Cardington. I described their pitcher as crafty, and he was very effective," Cannizaaro said. "He had them right in there. They had a couple opportunities to score, and we either cracked down with the pitching or made a better defensive play. We had to scratch. This was a fight. It had to be very entertaining for the fans."

Cardington's Wyatt Wade delivers a pitch to a Newark Catholic batter during Wednesday's Division IV baseball district championship game at Mount Vernon Nazarene University.
Cardington's Wyatt Wade delivers a pitch to a Newark Catholic batter during Wednesday's Division IV baseball district championship game at Mount Vernon Nazarene University.

Both teams ended with seven hits as NC's Eli Morris went the distance.

Cardington went with an all-freshman battery with Wyatt Wade pitching and Logan Reynolds catching.

"What more do you say to two freshmen? Those two went toe-to-toe with arguably one of the best teams in the state of Ohio. For that, I have to tip my hat to them," Goetzman said.

It is Newark Catholic's first district championship since 2019, as 2020 was canceled due to the start of the coronavirus pandemic and 2021 saw it beaten by Fisher Catholic in the district title game 9-5.

"We’ve only got two or three guys when they were freshmen who won it, so winning it is new," Cannizzaro said after earning his 21st district title in 27 years as coach. "Being in the district final, we were in it last year and didn’t win. Somebody asked me if it gets old, and I said, ‘No, I get old. Anytime you win a game, it don’t get old.'"

The Green Wave (22-6) will play in the regional semifinal against the state's top-ranked Division IV squad from Lucasville Valley Thursday at 5 p.m. at Beavers Field in Lancaster. Newark Catholic is on a quest to win a state championship like it last did in 2016.

Newark Catholic catcher Mason Hackett chases down Cardington's Nate Hickman after a strikeout during Wednesday's Division IV baseball district championship game at Mount Vernon Nazarene University.
Newark Catholic catcher Mason Hackett chases down Cardington's Nate Hickman after a strikeout during Wednesday's Division IV baseball district championship game at Mount Vernon Nazarene University.

"I told the guys all year that you can play the game hard and sometimes you come up short," Goetzman said. "Let’s be realistic here. If we play these guys 10 times, they’re going to win nine. We had our one shot today to try and beat them, and we came up short. That’s baseball, and that’s life. They fought hard and you can’t ask for much more from a group of young men."

The Pirates (12-14) will miss seniors' Joe Denney and Nate Hickman, two players who accepted what Goetzman brought to the program.

"I told them it’s hard to buy into a new coach your senior year, and thankfully they did because we ended up somewhere special," Goetzman said.

And the hope is that specialness can become routine.

"I told the guys this is a new expectation," Goetzman said. "This is the new level of us. This is who we’re going to be and this is what we’re trying to be."

Cannizaro is a buyer of what Goetzman is selling.

"I just met the coach and I think he and I hit it off," the veteran coach said. "I told him, ‘You’re on the right track. Stay with it and we’re going to end up playing again.’"

rmccurdy@gannett.com

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Newark Catholic's Nate Ferrell scores against Cardington during Wednesday's Division IV baseball district championship game at Mount Vernon Nazarene University.
Newark Catholic's Nate Ferrell scores against Cardington during Wednesday's Division IV baseball district championship game at Mount Vernon Nazarene University.

This article originally appeared on Marion Star: District Baseball: Newark Catholic slips by Cardington