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'It's going to be a heck of a ballgame': Moeller baseball team prepares to play in state semifinal

No. 1 state-ranked Crusaders play No. 6 Walsh Jesuit Thursday morning in Akron
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Posted at 7:10 PM, Jun 06, 2023

MIAMIVILLE, Ohio — The Moeller High School baseball team has played 32 games entering the state Final Four Thursday morning in Akron. But, the anguish from a loss in the 2022 regional final hasn't subsided.

"It's pretty awesome to think about being one of only four teams left in the state practicing," Moeller senior infielder Charlie Niehaus said Tuesday afternoon. "We're really excited. We worked so hard since June 5 of last year. The feeling has been left in our mind."

Niehaus, a University of Cincinnati signee, made the final out on a ground ball to the shortstop in Moeller's 4-1 loss to Mason in that regional final a year ago.

"I slammed my helmet - I was pretty angry," Niehaus said. "But ever since then, I've just thought about these guys. What we do here it's pretty special. I think we are all good this year."

Moeller, ranked No. 1 in the season's final state coaches' poll and No. 18 nationally by MaxPreps,is that good.

The Crusaders, winners of 15 consecutive games, play No. 6 state-ranked Walsh Jesuit (27-3-1) in a Division I state semifinal at 10 a.m. Thursday at Canal Park in Akron. Walsh Jesuit is in the state Final Four for the second time in the past three seasons.

"We're excited to be able to represent Southwest Ohio and the GCL and make it up to the state Final Four," Moeller coach Tim Held. "And so we know we have our work cut out for us. Walsh Jesuit is a really, really good team and they have a lot of veterans and seniors just as we do. It's going to be a heck of a ballgame."

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The Moeller baseball team is back in the state Final Four for the first time since 2015. The Crusaders are an eight-time state champion.

The winner plays either Lewis Center Olentangy Orange (22-10) or Whitehouse Anthony Wayne (27-4) in the state final at 10 a.m. Saturday in Akron.

Moeller, an eight-time state champion which third in state history, is in the state Final Four for the first time since 2015 - the same year it won eighth state title in program history.

The Crusaders have a significant opportunity for another title this weekend. The Crusaders' offense has been especially consistent through the postseason.

"Our average has been rising which normally you don't see during the tournament," Held said. "So that's really awesome to see."

Moeller is led by several players including senior infielder/pitcher Toby Hueber, who was named a Division I first-team all-state selection this week. Hueber is hitting .410 with 26 RBI. He also has nine wins on the mound with 40 strikeouts and a 1.685 earned-run average.

Senior infielder Clay Burdette (.363 with four home runs, 26 RBI, 13 stolen bases) and senior catcher Nate Manley (.410 batting average with eight doubles) were named to the honorable mention all-state team.

Niehaus, the No. 5 hitter, said there is a great deal of chemistry on this year's team which makes it even more enjoyable to take the diamond. Moeller isn't looking ahead to Saturday, but it knows what an opportunity it has in Akron.

"A state title would be a dream; it would be amazing," Niehaus said. "I think all these guys would be extremely happy, grateful for the opportunity."

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