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'It's just the best feeling ever': Moeller baseball team wins the state title

Crusaders earn their ninth state baseball championship in program history
Moeller State Championship 2023
Posted at 11:49 AM, Jun 10, 2023

AKRON, Ohio — The state baseball championship trophy is returning to Moeller High School.

Moeller defeated Olentangy Orange 4-1 Saturday in the Division I state final at Canal Park in Akron. The Crusaders (31-3) won 17 consecutive games to complete the memorable journey.

"These 13 seniors - all the things that they do around the school - they're not just baseball players," Moeller coach Tim Held said. "And so for them to be able to walk away and etch their name in Moeller history as a state champ it's going to be awesome."

Moeller, ranked No. 18 nationally by MaxPreps, was No. 1 in the Division I state coaches' poll the entire season including the preseason. Moeller won its ninth state title in in its storied program history.

"It's incredible," Moeller senior shortstop Charlie Niehaus said. "The feeling that we all have right now and the glue that we've had all season - it's just remarkable. And that's what we call it at Moeller, 'Be Remarkable.' We left our statement and it's just the best feeling ever."

Moeller's ninth state title is tied with Newark Catholic for second place on the list for the most state baseball titles in Ohio High School Athletic Association history. Elder has a state-record 12 titles.

Moeller's dugout was euphoric after a called third strike was the final out on Saturday.

"It's not really settled in especially since it's my last high school game ever," Niehaus said. "But, the feeling is just amazing."

Moeller took advantage of Olentangy Orange's errors early in the game Saturday with a 10:01 a.m. first pitch at Canal Park.

Senior CJ Richard scored on a two-out throwing error to give Moeller a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning.

The Crusaders added another run in the third when senior Toby Hueber stole third base and then scored on another throwing error. Hueber and Richard were each 2-for-4 with two stolen bases.

"Me and CJ on the base paths we're always stealing, always getting on," Hueber said. "Just trying to force our way around and make them make mistakes which they did."

Olentangy Orange (23-11) cut into the deficit with a run in the fourth inning to make it 2-1. But, the Crusaders added two runs in the fifth to seal the game.

Hueber scored on senior Clay Burdette's RBI single to left to give Moeller a 3-1 lead. Later, Burdette scored on senior Connor Christenson's RBI single to right center field. Christenson completed with the game by going 2-for-2.

Moeller sophomore right-handed pitcher Zion Theophilus allowed just one run on six hits in the complete game victory. He struck out seven batters and improved to 7-0 on the mound this season.

Moeller defeated Walsh Jesuit in a state semifinal Thursday morning to advance to its first state baseball final Saturday since 2015 when it won its eighth championship. Moeller has also won state titles in 2013, 2012, 2009, 2004, 1993, 1989 and 1972.

Held, who is 377-83 in 16 seasons, won his fifth state title as the Moeller head coach after also winning championships in 2015, 2013, 2012 and 2009.

"An amazing coach," Hueber said. "He lets us have a lot of fun. He's obviously got high expectations and he pushes every day. So he's an amazing coach and an amazing guy."

Moeller also completed its 13th year of participation in the state tournament which ranks fourth in OHSAA history.

Olentangy Orange, unranked in the season's final coaches' poll, defeated Anthony Wayne in Thursday's state semifinal to reach the state final.

This was the fourth year the OHSAA held the state baseball tournament at Canal Park in Akron since 2019. The tournament was played in Columbus prior to Akron.

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