The Super25 16u Ohio Valley Regional took place this past weekend, and the Ohio Surge put on a power display on their road to the Regional Championship.
The Ohio Surge are a relatively new program, having been around for about five years. The program brings together kids from central Ohio and develops them into serious ballplayers that can stand up to the best in the country.
During the 16u Ohio Valley Regional, the Surge put on an offensive display, scoring at least six runs in every game. They desperately needed their offense to perform this weekend as they were without their top two starting pitchers, Gavin Lyon and Hayden Bianchini.
Prior to the championship game, Surge coach Joe Griffith was proud of right-hander Connor Ulrey for stepping up, saying, “He’s just a bulldog pitcher. He probably throws low-80s, but he has a real nice changeup, he spots his breaking stuff real nicely, keeps people off-balance. For the season this year he’s 7-0 and has 0.67 ERA. He’s just a real nice pitcher.”
The offense picked up the slack as a whole unit, with players throughout the lineup performing well.
Third baseman James Harness had arguably the best tournament as part of the deep Surge lineup. According to Griffith, Harness is, “a classic gap-to-gap power hitter who is tough to strikeout. He’s hitting over .500 for the season, and he usually hits either third or fourth for us.”
Calvin Koethke complemented Harness in the middle of the Surge lineup. Koethke, the team’s left fielder, is a left-handed hitter who is, “a nice line-drive power hitter, he also has nice gap-to-gap power and is also a nice contact hitter” according to Griffith. Koethke hit well over .500 for the tournament, acting as a consistent force for the Surge.
Surge center fielder Nick Moser acted as the team’s table setter at the top of the lineup. “He has 6.6-6.7 60-speed, he’s a classic leadoff guy,” said Griffith. “He walks, gets on base, and he’s a threat to steal both second and third every time he gets on.”
Jack Griffith, Blake Griffith, and Brent Todys rounded out the offense. Jack Griffith is a good contact hitter while Blake Griffith has big power. Todys had 8 RBI for the tournament as the team’s catcher, and coach Griffith believes that many Division I programs would be lucky to have him.
The Surge ran into some trouble in the championship game after pounding the opposition throughout the tournament.
Mark Rader stepped up with a heroic performance with the team in need of a big game. “He pitched with a severely sprained ankle in the championship game,” said Griffith. “He couldn’t walk this week, it was all black and blue. He gutted out a really nice game, giving up only three earned runs. He had great grit for a kid his age, it was really impressive.”
Rader was able to keep the Surge in the game, but the offense was held at bay for most of the contest. However, the Surge offense exploded after entering the sixth inning down 5-3. Griffith described how the offense exploded, saying, “the guys locked in on the pitcher and started banging the baseball, hitting double after double after double. We scored 10 runs in the last two innings, we really blew it open. The whole lineup was hitting at that point.”
The Surge’s explosion was a collective effort, but was fueled by one of the team’s better overall players in Noah West. West had missed the entire tournament prior to the title game, but he came up big with four RBI once he rejoined his teammates. He was a key cog in the Surge’s sixth inning rally with a bases-loaded triple off the wall. The Surge ended up winning 13-5.
The Surge are the type of team that is designed to succeed in the Super25 tournament. The Super25 series is meant to give an advantage to teams that play well together, and the Surge do just that. Griffith is a fan of the Super25 format, saying the best part of the series is, “being able to put a team from your area together, not have All Stars from all over the country make up one team to play in one tournament. The Super25 series gives one local team the chance to compete on a national level, where a lot of tournaments don’t give you that opportunity.”
The 16u Surge won’t back down from anyone when they get their opportunity to compete on the national level. Griffith has confidence in his players, saying, “for a Midwest team, we’re a pretty good ballclub. We’re not afraid of the California, Florida and Texas folks.” That lack of fear will be key to their chances in the 16u Super25 National Championship.