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Ryan Piech dominates to lead Walsh Jesuit past Ellet 4-0 in OHSAA baseball district semifinals

Ryan Piech struck out 19 and allowed just one hit as Walsh Jesuit defeated Ellet 4-0
Walsh Ellet Baseball Ryan Isley

MACEDONIA, Ohio – One pitcher came into the OHSAA baseball Division I district semifinal between Walsh Jesuit and Ellet at Nordonia High School as the one everyone was talking about. When all was said and done, his opponent was getting all the accolades.

Walsh pitcher Ryan Piech blew everyone away on Tuesday, striking out 19 hitters in a 4-0 win and allowing just a single hit.

Piech struck out the first two hitters of the game and then struck out the side in the second and third after the leadoff hitter reached on an error in each inning. He was then perfect through the next two innings, striking out the side in each. 

When he stuck out the leadoff hitter in the sixth, it was the 10th straight batter he had fanned. After a walk and a fielder’s choice, he ended the sixth with his 16th strikeout of the day.

He entered the seventh inning not having given up a hit in the game and struck out the leadoff hitter before Cameron Allen hit a single to right field for Ellet’s first hit of the game. Piech responded by striking out the next two hitters to end the game.

“I felt great out in the pen, I was really spinning my stuff well,” Piech said. “All four pitches were working. I was spotting my fastball and then working on my off speed off that.”

Piech was on point with all of his pitches, hitting in the low 90s on his fastball and then throwing his curveball, circle changeup and knuckle curve to keep the Ellet hitters off balance.

“He’s been throwing the ball well in the second half of the season,” Walsh head coach Chris Kaczmar said. “His velocity has been up. The thing with that is he is able to throw some devastating off speed pitches for strikes as well.”

On the other side, it was Allen who was dealing for the Orangemen. The junior was getting a lot of attention after a no-hitter on May 9th against Firestone and a 2-hitter in which he struck out 18 against St. Vincent-St. Mary on April 23rd.

Allen retired the Warriors in order in the first two innings, and needed just 14 pitches combined to do so.

But in the third, Walsh broke through. With two outs, Andrew Gormley laid down a bunt single and then stole second base. Joey Canzoni singled to right to score Gormley and give Walsh the early lead. It was the kind of small ball Walsh knew it had to play to put runs on the board against Allen.

“It was perfect, Andrew laid down a great bunt and then stole second on our bluff bunt steal,” Canzoni said. “I was just looking to put the bat on the ball and hit a hard line drive. When I got to two strikes, I just shortened it up and poked it into right.”

Walsh got on the board again in the fourth inning when Will Harding hit a triple to left field and then scored on a balk against Allen on an attempted pickoff. Kasey Kish followed with a walk and then stole second. Topher Salek was safe on a bunt that moved Kish to third and then Alejandro Covas knocked in Kish with a groundout to third.

“There was someone on third base and there were two strikes on me,” Covas said. “I just wanted to get the ball in play and score him.”

The Warriors used more small ball in the sixth inning, as Kish singled and stole second. After he moved to third on a groundout by Salek, Covas drove him in again, this time with a single.

All in all, Allen pitched well. He went the distance and allowed just the four runs on six hits. He struck out four and walked three.

“Cameron Allen pitched a great game himself,” Kaczmar said. “It was all we could do to scratch those runs. It was a challenging game today. Our hitters were able to put the ball in play. We had some very good situational hitting. We played some small ball obviously.”

While Allen was good, Piech was exceptional. The performance by the junior had Kaczmar racking his brain for one that was better in his 26 years at the helm of the Warriors.

“I don’t recall one that’s better,” Kaczmar said. “There have been some great outings. This is right there. If I had to rank them all, I’m not going to do that. It’s at least tied with the best I have ever seen.”

Pitching against Allen was a challenge that Piech was ready for, as the Xavier commit is always up for a game when the other team has their ace on the bump.

“I love a good duel,” Piech said. “It’s awesome to pitch against another guy like that. That’s what makes the game the game.”

The fans had a great view of the game, but it was Piech’s teammates who might have had the best seats in the house, figuratively.

“Obviously we are staying ready every pitch,” Canzoni said. “But when your pitcher strikes out 19, it’s a joy to watch for sure.”