Centerville ace is perfect: “It’s been a wild couple of games”

Centerville senior Nick Hoffmann knows all about the Centerville High School baseball mystique. As the designated ace of the Elks pitching staff, that’s as much of his job as getting out opposing hitters.

“All the former great alumni come back and talk about what it means to be part of the black and gold,” said Hoffmann, who signed with Clemson University. “It’s nice to know I’m in a good community and people care about their high school.”

Hoffmann recently became part of that lore by pitching a perfect game in a 4-0 defeat of Gull Lake (Mich.) at Grand Park (Ind.). The gem was saved by a diving grab from centerfielder and Cincinnati signee Morgan Colopy with one out in the seventh inning.

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Hoffmann was perfect his next start, too, beating visiting Springfield 10-0 in five innings.

“It’s been really crazy,” he said. “It’s been a wild couple of games.”

A right-hander, Hoffmann tops out at 89-91 mph and owns a sharp-breaking curveball and a change-up he labels his “out pitch.” He’s 4-0 and has pitched just 21 innings. He’s struck out a team-high 32 batters (2.0 ERA).

In all, 11 Elks have pitched and none more than those 21 innings. Jared Lieberman, who beat Loveland in a district final last season, also is 4-0. Colopy (.551) leads the Elks in hitting, hits (25), doubles (6) RBIs (24) and stolen bases (10).

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Centerville has advanced to six regionals, including the last two seasons. The Elks won a small-school Class B state baseball title in 1928, the first season Ohio held a state championship.

Centerville has lost to Greater Miami Conference members Lakota West and Mason in regional semifinals the last two seasons. It’ll be on Hoffmann and an impressive supporting cast to make a breakthrough this coming postseason.

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“He’s the most humble but relentless competitor I’ve been around,” Elks coach Jared Whited said of Hoffmann. “He’s a different kid when he’s on the mound. I’ve never heard of back-to-back perfects at any level. It was special to be a part of.”

Centerville, 14-5 overall, leads the Greater Western Ohio Conference National East (9-0) by one-half game over Beavercreek (14-1, 8-0). The rivals are scheduled to play Monday at Centerville and Tuesday at Beavercreek, which will decide the divisional title.

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• Xenia ended a long conference title drought last season and is the front runner to repeat. The Buccaneers were 20-9 overall in 2018 and 8-6 to win the GWOC American South by two games over Fairborn and West Carrollton.

West Carrollton snapped Xenia’s 11-game win streak on Monday, 5-1, but Xenia won the Tuesday rematch, 13-2. That padded Xenia’s record to 18-3 overall and 8-2 in the GWOC American South, one game better than Fairborn with four divisional games remaining.

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Sophomore Aydan Evans leads the Buccaneers in hitting (.591), runs (30), hits (37) and doubles (8). Senior pitcher Warren Mahar (4-0, 1.31 ERA), junior Alex Sparks (3-0, 1.84) and Evans (3-0, 3.94) are all unbeaten.

• Defending D-II state champ Chaminade Julienne (13-2, 7-1) and Hamilton Badin (15-2, 9-1) have separated from the rest of the Greater Catholic League Co-Ed contenders. CJ’s only North Division crossover loss was 5-4 at Central-leading Badin. The Eagles have mounted a nine-game win streak since.

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Eagles senior Nick Wissman and junior Sebastian Gongora are both 5-0 in pitching. Senior outfielder Andrew Simones lead CJ in hitting (.404).

CJ was scheduled to play Alter (4-11) at Howell Field on Friday and will play the Knights at Wright State University on Monday (5:30 p.m.).

• Online coaches voting for the upcoming sectional baseball tournaments begins next week. The mandatory coaches meetings will all be held on Sunday, May 5 to determine seeds and brackets. The postseason begins on Monday, May 13.

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The final four state tournament for all four divisions has been moved from Huntington Park in Columbus to Akron’s Canal Park on June 7-8. That’s the home of the Akron RubberDucks, the double-A minor-league affiliate of the Cleveland Indians.

The state baseball championships had been held at the home of the Columbus Clippers (Yankees) since Huntington Park opened in 2009. That ended when the Clippers scheduled home games the same weekend as the state championships.

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• Miamisburg’s fifth annual “Support the Veterans” baseball game against visiting Middletown on Saturday has been canceled due to unplayable field conditions. The growing event features the American Legion Post 165 and was to have benefited the Wounded Warrior Project. No make-up date has been set.

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