AKRON – Mentor High School coach Jeff Haase knows his team is built on pitching and defense.
The Cardinals played some of their best defense of the season on Friday as they defeated Springboro High School 4-0 at Canal Park on Friday in the Division I state baseball semifinal. The Cardinals advanced to the state championship for the first time since 2007. A victory would produce the school’s first baseball state title.
“Today the way Justin (Wilson) was throwing, we could have got him one run, and that would have been enough,” Haase said.
Wilson, a senior, struck out eight while allowing just two hits in the complete-game victory. He said he focused on command of the strike zone.
The Panthers hadn’t been shut out all season, and had scored at least 10 runs three or more times in the postseason. It was Mentor’s third shutout of the playoffs and sixth of the season.
“They’re a good hitting team,” Wilson said. “I just brought it today and kept the bats down and strikeouts up.”
The Cardinals’ offense came through in a three-run fifth inning. With two outs, junior shortstop Andrew Witte’s single drove in sophomore centerfielder Noah Gladish and sophomore catcher Eric Coode. Witte reached second on a throwing error. Senior third baseman Matt Sabin followed with an RBI single to center.
Witte led the Cardinals with two hits, and scored two runs. The Cardinals finished with seven hits for the game.
“Andrew’s been like that all year, he’s been fantastic,” Haase said. “He’s hitting in the three hole for a reason.”
The Cardinals await the winner of Friday afternoon’s semifinal between St. Ignatius and Hilliard Darby. The state final is Sunday at Canal Park at 10 a.m.