LUCAS — As good as he was in the regular season, Lucas ace Andrew Smollen was even better in the tournament.
The area’s Pitcher of the Year, Smollen was virtually untouchable in two postseason starts. The senior right-hander fired a five-inning perfect game with 11 strikeouts in a 12-0 win over New London to lift the Cubs to their first sectional title since 2016. Then in the district semifinals, the fireballer limited eventual district champ Seneca East to two hits and a pair of unearned runs in a 2-1 loss.
“Andrew Smollen is one of the best to come through Lucas,” coach Courtney Church said.
Smollen was selected the Mid-Buckeye Conference Player of the Year after leading the Cubs to their third straight MBC title. He was 9-3 with a program single season-record 135 strikeouts and a 0.77 earned run average in 73 innings pitched. At the plate, he hit a team-best .397 with four home runs and 28 runs batted in.
A District 9 first-team pick in Division IV, Smollen is the anchor of a talented all-area pitching staff. The five-man rotation was a combined 33-10 with 407 strikeouts.
Nick Kandel, Hillsdale: A senior left-hander, Kandel was an Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association All-Ohio first-team selection as a utility player in Division IV. On the mound he was 5-2 with 75 strikeouts and a 1.14 earned run average. His best outing of the season came in Hillsdale’s 2-0 win over two-time defending Division III state champ Waynedale, when he threw a one hitter with seven strikeouts. At the plate he hit .427 with 25 runs batted in.
Jarek Ringler, Crestview: The junior righty was 7-1 with 64 strikeouts and a 1.14 ERA, leading Crestview to its first Firelands Conference championship since 2011. The Cougars won a sectional title before falling to Edison in the district semifinals. Ringler was a Firelands Conference first-team pick and a District 9 first-teamer in Division III.
Kaden Riddle, Clear Fork: An Ashland University football recruit, Riddle was one of the most imposing pitchers in north central Ohio. The 6-foot-4, 260-pound right-hander was 5-3 with 44 strikeouts and a 1.55 ERA. Riddle was a Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference first-team pick and a District 9 second-teamer in Division II.
Bryar Householder, East Knox: The 6-foot-2, 210-pound junior right-hander was one of the most dominant pitchers in the Knox Morrow Athletic Conference. Householder was 7-1 with 89 strikeouts and a microscopic 0.81 earned run average in 51.1 innings pitched. At the plate he batted .471 with 11 doubles, two home runs and 21 RBIs. Householder was selected to the KMAC first team.