Newark Catholic High School baseball coach John Cannizzaro smiled as he rehashed the pitching options he held for a Division IV regional semifinal last Thursday at Beavers Field in Lancaster.

past Tornadoes in regional semifinal

Newark Catholic High School baseball coach John Cannizzaro smiled as he rehashed the pitching options he held for a Division IV regional semifinal last Thursday at Beavers Field in Lancaster.

"We even entertained the notion of starting our freshman," he said, pausing for a moment before continuing. "Jimmy Lough has given us some Class A innings."

Instead, Cannizzaro went with experience and sent senior Garrett Clark to the mound as the Green Wave defeated Racine Southern 11-1, improving to 20-8. Though beaten four times this spring, Clark's reputation is that he is the staff ace, and he showed as much by limiting the Tornadoes to one infield single in the fourth inning and no other hits, striking out six and walking one.

Of course, that brings up the question as to why would Cannizzaro not hold Clark back for the regional final last Saturday.

"I was a little surprised to pitch today," Clark said. "But it's not about me, it's about the team and it's about getting to the next game."

Hence, Cannizzaro should consider himself fortunate in that he had another veteran pitcher to fall back on last Saturday. Senior Miles Richardson was named the starter. He was 7-0 entering the title game against the winner of the other regional semifinal between Toronto and Willow Wood Symmes Valley last Friday. Clark, who threw only 65 pitches, and Lough also were ready to pitch at the first sign of trouble.

"That's a nice problem to have I suppose," said Southern coach Ryan Lemley, whose team finished 15-13. "I know they threw a good pitcher at us today, and they still have a couple of other choices for the regional final."

Cannizzaro, whose team was making its 18th regional appearance, said he hadn't decided on his starting pitcher until the day before the semifinal and opted to go with a familiar strategy.

"You have to win the first game to get to the second one," he said. "We just thought this was the way to go."

Clark, who overcame a bout of food poisoning earlier last week, got plenty of support from his offense. Leading 1-0, the Green Wave put the game out of reach with four runs in both the third and fourth innings to take a 9-1 lead. Nate Adams ended it with a two-run single in the bottom of the fifth with no outs. Matt Lewis scored four runs and had four hits, three of which were doubles. Chris Leibold scored three runs, and Jake Nelson contributed two RBI.

The Green Wave hadn't played since beating Fisher Catholic 11-2 in a district final eight days earlier, but showed little sign of rust.

"Everyone was anxious to play, sure, and we got a big jump on them early and that got our confidence going," Lewis said. "We took a couple of days off, then came back real focused for practice for a few day."

The regional champion will play in a state semifinal at 10 a.m. Friday in Huntington Park in Columbus.

At a glance

Below is the schedule for the state tournament:

THURSDAY -- 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., Division III semifinals; 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., Division II semifinals

FRIDAY -- 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., Division IV semifinals; 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., Division I semifinals

SATURDAY -- 10 a.m., Division III final; 1 p.m., Division II final; 4 p.m., Division IV final; 7 p.m., Division I final