Nick Richardson of the Newark Catholic High School baseball team benefited from a fast start by the Green Wave's offense during a 14-3 victory over Racine Southern in a Division IV regional semifinal last Thursday at Beavers Field in Lancaster.

Nick Richardson of the Newark Catholic High School baseball team benefited from a fast start by the Green Wave's offense during a 14-3 victory over Racine Southern in a Division IV regional semifinal last Thursday at Beavers Field in Lancaster.

Before he even took the mound in the bottom of the first, Newark Catholic had a 4-0 advantage. The Green Wave pounded out 13 hits overall.

"That always helps," the junior said after striking out five and allowing four hits in four-plus innings of work. "It takes all the pressure off your shoulders."

Four errors by Southern, which finished 18-6, played a huge role in the big first inning and Mark Elwell set the stage by opening the game with a single. Richardson helped his own cause by stealing two bases and scoring three runs. Matt Lott also scored three times and had two hits. Ryan Lewis, who came on in relief of Richardson and finished the game, contributed a two-run single in the sixth as the lead grew to 11-3, and Chris Leibold also had two RBI.

"Putting the bat on the ball is putting pressure on people," coach John Cannizzaro said. "The surprising thing is that all 18 of our kids got to bat, and some took advantage of it. Initially, we put some in we think might be in the lineup (for last Friday's regional final against Berlin Hiland). Then I said, 'What the heck, let's put them all in.' We like everyone in our dugout."

Defending Division III state-champion Heath also advanced to a championship game after defeating Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy 2-1 in nine innings in a regional semifinal last Thursday at Wright State.

Alex Van Dine pitched a complete game with 10 strikeouts, and the only run he allowed was unearned. Pinch-runner Ethan Bode scored the winning run, advancing from first base on a wild pitch and two throwing errors.

The Bulldogs managed only one hit off pitcher Nate Lambert, who also went the distance as the Eagles finished 24-3. Heath had to manufacture its first run as well, taking a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning on an error and a passed ball.

In Division I, Newark's surprising run ended with a 13-2 loss to defending state-champion West Chester Lakota West in a regional semifinal last Thursday at Dublin Coffman.

The Wildcats finished 16-14 as the Firebirds, who were ranked first in the final state poll and 10th in last week's USA Today Super 25, improved to 26-1 after defeating Gahanna 16-11 last Friday in a regional final.

The Wildcats matched Lakota West's run in the first inning, but the Firebirds took command with a six runs in the third, four of which were unearned in the wake of two errors by Newark.