Warriors to take on Golden Flashes in district final

Edgewood's Garret Webster (right) applies a late tag on Grand Valley's Nick Reichek during a Division III district semifinal Monday at Niles. The Warriors return to Niles today and are scheduled to go against Champion in a Division III district final.

NILES — Edgewood is looking for its third district championship in a three-month span.

The basketball team won the program’s first district title since 1991 when it defeated LaBrae by 15 points in March. On Saturday, Bailey Roberts claimed a championship in the 3,200 meter run while also breaking a meet record.

Today, the baseball team takes on Champion in a Division III district title game in Niles.

“If you would’ve asked me a year ago if we’d be here, I saw the potential, but it’s these guys,” second-year Edgewood coach Sean Freeman said of his players after the Warriors clinched their spot in the championship game on Monday. “These guys have put in the work and believed in themselves.”

Second-seeded Edgewood's (14-8) tournament run has paralleled the district-winning basketball team’s.

Both received a first-round bye. In the sectional final, the basketball team’s defense smothered its opponent and only surrendered 20 points. The baseball team shut out its counterpart.

The district semifinal round saw the Warriors pitted against a familiar intra-county rival in both sports — one they defeated earlier in the season. Pymatuning Valley held a lead for the majority of the basketball game against Edgewood and Grand Valley led in the sixth inning of the baseball semifinal.

But, Edgewood managed to fight back in both scenarios and clinch a spot in the title game against the winner of the other semifinal — Champion vs. LaBrae in both sports.

Two players, Jacob Zappitelli and Alec Katon, have enjoyed both rides.

“I know that (basketball) district title was one of the greatest moments of my life, so I’m excited to play and get another opportunity to add a district title,” Zappitelli said. “We’ll try our hardest.”

Edgewood’s opponent today is no stranger to the big stage. The Golden Flashes (14-4) won the 2017 Division III state championship and, after a 1-0 upset loss to Grand Valley in last year’s district semifinal round, are back with a purpose.

Champion, the top seed, defeated Cardinal 9-0 in a sectional final and LaBrae 6-4 in Monday’s district semifinal. The team was ranked No. 11 in Division III in Monday’s Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association state poll.

“That’s another good team,” Zappitelli said of Champion after Edgewood’s victory over Grand Valley. “We saw a good team (Monday) and we just gotta have the same approach and battle. To be the best, you gotta beat the best and we just gotta have the approach that we can do it.”

Champion knows it can, too, as the Golden Flashes are 2-0 against Edgewood this season.

Freeman did not put a lot of stock in the previous outcomes, though, and also noted how Champion has not seen Katon in either of the two contests.

Katon’s 0.75 ERA ranked second in the county in the most recent release of area statistics that can be found in Monday’s newspaper. He was also tied for fifth in strikeouts (46).

The junior right-hander recorded the save in Monday’s win. He retired all three batters he faced, striking out two of them.

“We were 2-1 into the sixth with Frank (Sloan) going and we were 4-2 at home early on and they haven't seen Alec yet,” Freeman said of the previous meetings against Champion. “So, I like where we’re going.”

First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m. at Wilder Field in Niles.