Notebook: St. Charles Cardinals’ baseball tourney run ends against top-seeded Olentangy Orange

Scott Hennen
ThisWeek group
Senior Dom Doukakis and St. Charles saw their season end May 25 with a 6-0 loss at top-seeded Olentangy Orange in a Division I district semifinal. The 33rd-seeded Cardinals finished 15-14.

Coach Ray Benjamin didn’t get the result he would have liked in the final game of his 23rd season leading the St. Charles baseball team, but that didn’t stop him from enjoying the ride.

The 33rd-seeded Cardinals finished 15-14 overall, losing at top-seeded Olentangy Orange 6-0 on May 25 in a Division I district semifinal. They committed four errors and managed just three hits off Pioneers left-hander Cole Cahill, but Benjamin said that wasn’t representative of his team.

“You probably hear this from a lot of the coaches, but I feel like if we would have had (a season) last year, this year would have been a lot different,” Benjamin said. “Not looking back on that, we had a good year.

“Our record does not reflect the kind of team that we were. A 33rd seed does not reflect the kind of team we have. We play a good schedule every year and that may not give us the record of some teams, but that gets us ready to play in the postseason.”

Against Orange, the Cardinals had singles from senior second baseman Michael Benjamin, senior first baseman Carter Bryant and junior outfielder Scott Beckman. Senior Ethan Seewald took the loss, surrendering three earned runs in six innings with one strikeout and one walk.

“We made errors and that cost us the game,” senior outfielder Ryan Benjamin said. “They played well, and they are a good team.”

St. Charles tied Watterson for third (4-4) in the CCL behind Hartley (6-2) and DeSales (5-3). All four teams reached district semifinals — the Cardinals in Division I and DeSales, Hartley and Watterson in Division II.

Ryan Benjamin (first-team all-league) led St. Charles with a .429 batting average and .576 on-base percentage and also had nine RBI and 20 runs scored. Bryant (first-team all-league) batted .345 with 19 RBI, 18 runs and five doubles.

Michael Benjamin (second-team all-league) hit .318 with 14 RBI and 20 runs, and Seewald (second-team all-league) was 3-4 with a 2.30 ERA, 56 strikeouts and 21 walks in 45 2/3 innings.

Junior Archer Stankowski (DH/P) batted .310 with one home run, 13 RBI and eight runs and was 3-3 with a 2.60 ERA, 38 strikeouts and 21 walks in 29 2/3 innings. Senior pitcher Garrett Nerone was 3-3 with a 3.53 ERA, 21 strikeouts and 12 walks in 35 2/3 innings.

Senior Erik Witherspoon (SS) hit .306 with one homer, eight RBI and nine runs, and senior Dom Doukakis (C) batted .258 with one homer, 22 RBI and 11 runs and was hit by a pitch 12 times.

“I’m so proud of this team and everything they have gone through,” said coach Benjamin, the father of Ryan and Michael. “Last year’s seniors — most of them I saw in the crowd (May 25) — it was so tough for them. This year’s group played in the moment and that was what was great about them. I have had so much fun coaching this year, so much more than any other year.”

Beckman batted .288 with seven RBI, 18 runs and 10 stolen bases. Junior J.B. Meury, who started at third base, also is expected to return along with junior Myles McKinney (1-1, 2.63 ERA, 12 strikeouts, 9 walks, 16 innings) and freshman Charlie Griffith (4-1, 3.21 ERA, 48 strikeouts, 14 walks, 32 2/3 innings).

•The St. Charles lacrosse team was in uncharted waters after defeating second-seeded and host Worthington Kilbourne 8-5 on May 24 in a Division I, Region 3 semifinal.

The third-seeded Cardinals improved to 14-5 as they reached their first regional final in Division I. They were slated to play top-seeded Upper Arlington or fourth-seeded Thomas Worthington on May 28, but that coincided with St. Charles graduation ceremonies and likely was going to be moved to another date.

“We’re playing for the seniors, and we have 19 seniors,” said attacker Blake Roller, who had three goals against Kilbourne. “We’ve been giving it our all in practice.”

The last time the Cardinals reached a regional final was in 2003 in Division II. They defeated Olentangy 9-5 before losing 9-7 to Cincinnati Mariemont in a state semifinal.

“I really believe culture matters, and they believe in the culture that we’ve committed to,” first-year coach Kyle Andrews said. “They place an equal emphasis on winning games and still supporting each other, and it really shows. They’re good at picking each other up without putting each other down. They want to win it for each other.”

Against Kilbourne, the Cardinals led 5-1 at halftime as Thomas O’Reilly had two goals and Griffin Burkey, Tommy Cloran and Henry Mauntel all scored once.

“I feel like we came together at the right time and our coach ... we have the best coach in the state,” said goalie Brodie Sullivan, who had 10 of his 13 saves in the second half. “He really got us to play together and it’s been unbelievable.”

The Region 3 champion played Cincinnati Moeller, Cincinnati St. Xavier, Mason or Springboro in a state semifinal June 1. The state final is June 5 at Ohio Wesleyan.

Will Meyer was the only senior starter for Bexley, which finished 14-7 overall under first-year coach Will Gingery. The Lions also went 5-1 in the MSL-Ohio to earn a share of the league title.

•The Bexley boys tennis team won its first league championship since 2012 and expects to return all of its starting lineup except for senior Will Meyer.

The Lions tied Columbus Academy and Wellington for the MSL-Ohio Division title at 5-1. It was the program’s first since first-year coach Will Gingery was a junior at Bexley.

“It was an interesting year because we had five sophomores and none of them had played in high school because of last season (being canceled),” said Gingery, whose team finished 14-7 overall. “I knew we had talent from coaching them in middle school, but I wasn’t sure if they’d reach their potential. They did that and then some.”

Meyer (first-team all-league) and sophomore Stefan Schiff (first-team all-league) reached a state-qualifying doubles match May 20 in the Division II district tournament at Academy, but lost 6-1, 6-7 (5), 6-0 to Academy’s Jack Madison and Arie Tuckerman. 

Also competing at district were sophomore singles player Blake Simons (second-team all-league) and the doubles team of sophomores Austin Flamm (first-team all-league) and Mitchell Giller (second-team all-league). 

Junior Duncan Johnson (honorable mention all-league) and sophomore Drew Solar both played singles at sectional.

“Because we’re young, we’re only losing Will from our lineup and the rest are back,” Gingery said. “We’re already looking forward to next year.”

•The Bexley girls lacrosse team had a strong season under first-year coach Jackie Lund.

The Lions finished 11-5-1 overall and tied Academy and Columbus School for Girls for the inaugural MSL-Ohio title at 3-1. They were seeded fourth in the Division II, Region 7 tournament but lost 17-12 to eighth-seeded Hartley in the second round May 22.

“We really started from scratch this year,” Lund said. “We only had a handful of girls who had ever played a full varsity season, and we were able to build from the ground up a framework that I think worked really well for us in the long run.”

Sophomore midfielder Mikayla Williams had 96 goals, 66 ground balls and 28 assists and was named MSL-Ohio Player of the Year and first-team all-CIL. Junior midfielder Grace Heilman (first-team all-MSL-Ohio and all-CIL) had 80 goals, 35 assists and 42 ground balls.

Junior goalie Molly Esque (186 saves) and junior midfielder/attacker Emma Magee (39 goals, 9 assists) were second-team honorees in both leagues. Junior attacker Lillian Hoyer had 18 goals and five assists.

Freshman midfielder/defender Noa Pitstick (2 goals, 2 assists) was honorable mention in both leagues, and sophomore attacker/defender Maddy Krasnow (10 goals, 5 assists, 24 ground balls) and freshman midfielder Ava McCoy (6 goals, 2 assists) were honorable mention all-MSL-Ohio.

“We will miss graduating seniors Eimear McCann (attacker) and Dasi Bandler (defender) very much, but the remainder of our team and starting lineup will be returning next year,” said Lund, who was MSL-Ohio Coach of the Year. 

•The CSG lacrosse team had a strong nucleus of young players that will be the core of the program in coming seasons.

The fifth-seeded Unicorns finished 9-7, losing 18-13 to Hartley in the first round of the Division II, Region 7 tournament May 19.

CSG had just three seniors in goalie Via Barry-Wilson (honorable mention all-MSL-Ohio) and defenders Leah Giller (honorable mention all-MSL-Ohio) and Charlotte Love.

Junior midfielder Cynthia Alexander (second-team all-MSL-Ohio) and sophomore attacker Annie Wagenbrenner (honorable mention all-MSL-Ohio) are expected to return along with several freshmen who earned postseason honors. They are midfielders Sarah Alexander, Elizabeth Burgess and Mia Donaldson and attacker Morgan Halpern (all first-team all-MSL-Ohio) and defender Muriel Wallace (honorable mention all-MSL-Ohio).

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ST. CHARLES BASEBALL

Record: 15–14 overall

CCL standings: Hartley (6-2), DeSales (5-3), St. Charles and Watterson (both 4-4), Ready (1-7)

Seniors lost: Michael Benjamin, Ryan Benjamin, Carter Bryant, Cade Campbell, Reid Dewez, Dom Doukakis, Garrett Nerone, Jack Prophater, Donovan Roda, Ethan Seewald, Collin Sattler and Erik Witherspoon

Key returnees: Scott Beckman, Charlie Griffith, Myles McKinney, J.B. Meury and Archer Stankowski

Postseason: Defeated Licking Heights 2-0; def. Central Crossing 12-4; lost to Olentangy Orange 6-0 in Division I district semifinal

BEXLEY GIRLS LACROSSE

Record: 11-5-1 overall

CIL standings: DeSales (7-0), Watterson (7-1), CSG (5-3), Bexley (4-3-1), Columbus Academy (4-4), Hartley (3-5), Granville (2-4-1), Wellington (1-6), Buckeye Valley (0-7)

MSL-Ohio standings: Academy, Bexley and CSG (all 3-1), Wellington (1-3), Buckeye Valley (0-4)

Seniors lost: Dasi Bandler and Eimear McCann

Key returnees: Molly Esque, Grace Heilman, Lillian Hoyer, Maddy Krasnow, Emma Magee, Ava McCoy, Noa Pitstick and Mikayla Williams

Postseason: Defeated Chillicothe 23-3; lost to Hartley 17-12 in second round of Division II, Region 7 tournament

CSG LACROSSE

Record: 9-7 overall

Seniors lost: Via Barry-Wilson, Leah Giller and Charlotte Love

Key returnees: Cynthia Alexander, Sarah Alexander, Elizabeth Burgess, Mia Donaldson, Morgan Halpern, Annie Wagenbrenner and Muriel Wallace

Postseason: Lost to Hartley 18-13 in first round of Division II, Region 7 tournament

BEXLEY BOYS TENNIS

Record: 14-7 overall

MSL-Ohio standings: Bexley, Academy and Wellington (5-1), Grandview (3-3), Buckeye Valley (2-4), Worthington Christian (1-5), Whitehall (0-6)

Seniors lost: Rob Donahey, Will Meyer and Henry Ruckel

Key returnees: Austin Flamm, Mitchell Giller, Duncan Johnson, Stefan Schiff, Blake Simons and Drew Solar