During his four seasons with the Newark Catholic High School baseball program, Hunter Nance played in a Division IV state semifinal as a freshman and was the No. 3 hitter when his team won a state championship in 2013 and was state runner-up this season.
The fact Nance was the only holdover from the 2011 team and one of just four players who saw action in the state tournament a year ago is testament to the depth the Green Wave has been producing.
"We had a lot of new faces this year," coach John Cannizzaro said. "Of the 22 in our dugout, nine were on the team last year and most weren't on the field. Most of them were watching other people play."
Cannizzaro coached the Green Wave from 1985-92, leading it to titles in 1988 and 1989. He returned as coach in 2004 and led Newark Catholic to titles in his first season as well as in 2006 and last year.
The Green Wave, which also won titles in 2002 and 2003 under Scott Burkholder, went on its latest run despite losing seven regular-season games.
Newark Catholic beat Berlin Center Western Reserve 6-2 in a state semifinal June 5 at Huntington Park but lost to Defiance Tinora 4-3 on June 7 at the same site to finish 20-8.
The senior class included starters Conor Keck (1B), Sean Thomas (3B/P) and Mike Lohr (2B) as well as Nance (CF/P). Senior Mitch Green started at designated hitter in the state final.
Only Keck, Lohr, Nance and sophomore catcher Mitch Lohr were starters a year ago when the Green Wave beat New Middletown Springfield 2-1 for the title.
"It's fun," Thomas said. "I didn't get too nervous. You've just got to ignore everything that happens off the diamond."
In the semifinal, junior Gabe Morris pitched 6 1/3 innings and gave up no earned runs. Junior Rob Engle, who started at shortstop, got the final two outs.
Mike Lohr and Engle each had two hits and Keck and Thomas both had two RBI.
"(Getting to the state championship game) is our goal," Morris said. "If we don't get there, it's a down season. We've been calling it home."
In the state final, Thomas gave up three runs over the first three innings and Engle was the losing pitcher despite giving up just one run in 3 2/3 innings.
The Green Wave tied Tinora at 3 in the top of the seventh. Mitch Lohr walked to lead off the inning, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Mike Lohr, advanced to third on an infield single by Nance and scored on a throwing error.
In the bottom of the seventh, Tinora's E.J. Kissel and Reid Renollet both were hit by pitches and Clay Pittman singled to left to drive in Kissel.
Nance went 2-for-3 with one RBI and one run, and Mitch Lohr was 1-for-2 with a walk and two runs.
Also eligible to return after playing in the state tournament are sophomore Jack Wollenburg (utility) and junior Zach Kent (OF/P).
"Any time you can get to the final, it's big," Cannizzaro said. "The little things you keep going over now become a factor."
Lenfest leads area boys at state track
Led by seniors Casey Lenfest and Tyler Otterstedt, the Granville boys track and field team placed ninth (20 points) in the Division I state meet June 6 and 7 at Ohio State behind champion Cleveland Glenville (40) as 71 teams scored.
Lenfest entered the final in the 200 meters with the second-best time but won in 21.21 seconds. Pickerington North's Nick Gray, who ran 21.2 during the preliminary, settled for fourth in 21.49.
A year ago, Lenfest was third in the 200 and ran on the 800 relay that placed sixth.
"It went completely how I wanted it to," he said. "This year was about getting a better start, and I think I did that. I just trusted in the strength and conditioning from my coaches.
"I didn't mind not being the top dog coming in. I thought it was a fantastic field of runners all around."
Otterstedt earned a runner-up finish in the 800 (1:52.82) behind Lancaster's Stephen Sparks (1:51.59).
Otterstedt also was a big part of Granville's team that placed 10th at state a year ago, taking eighth in the 1,600 and running on the third-place 1,600 relay.
"I'm not going to say I'm not disappointed, but (Sparks) is the best guy in the state and he's a great guy," Otterstedt said.
Rounding out the scoring for the Blue Aces was senior Byron Spruill, who was seventh in the pole vault (14 feet, 10 inches).
Other boys scorers from the area in Division I were Licking Heights senior Bryan Justice in the pole vault (third, 15-2), Watkins Memorial's 1,600 relay (fourth, 3:19.75) and Newark senior Toby Hardwick in the 3,200 (eighth, 9:17.49).
In Division II, Heath senior Josh Lines was seventh in the 400 (49.44) and the Bulldogs' 1,600 relay was third (3:20.18), while Lakewood senior Levi Mack was fifth in the 800 (1:55.63).
"I was leading for a little bit, which was really surprising," said Mack, who will compete for Liberty University. "(At state) I broke my own (personal-best time)."
Aces girls place in two state events
The Granville girls track team didn't place in the 3,200 relay in the Division I state meet June 6, but reached the podium in two events June 7.
Sophomore Micaela DeGenero took fifth in the 1,600 (5:02.3) and the 1,600 relay of seniors Rachel Blumling and Kaitlyn Logan, DeGenero and freshman Natalie Price also was fifth (3:54.21).
The Blue Aces tied for 25th (8) behind champion Solon (47) as 77 teams scored.