COLUMBUS - Barring a major consolidation between area school districts or a rapid growth in population, the immediate area will never have a Division I school.
However, Thursday evening's Division I baseball semifinals at beautiful Huntington Park in the city's downtown Arena District certainly had a local feel.
And similarly to many recent trips to the state tournament for local schools, the area natives came up short and saw their quests for the coveted state championship thwarted a few days earlier than they had hoped.
Grove City head baseball coach Ryan Alexander reacts after his squad was defeated, 3-2, by Cincinnati Moeller Thursday in Columbus. Alexander is a St. John Central graduate.
For Grove City head coach Ryan Alexander, who is a 1999 St. John Central graduate, the trip back to the state tournament was extremely tough since his squad came into the weekend as the state's top-ranked squad and also ranked in the USA Today poll.
And, for the second straight season, the Greyhounds' season ended at the hands of a school from the southwest corner of the state in Cincinnati Moeller, by a tough 3-2 score in what appeared to be the state title game for all intents and purposes.
"I wish they'd change those dang districts around, so maybe we'd get to play a team from (another part of the state) first," Alexander smiled. "Moeller is a great team and we made some great plays defensively to be able to say we out-hit them. They're a great team and I fully expect them to win it all on Saturday."
Moeller scratched all three of its runs across in the second inning and the Grove City's inability to land a timely hit at the dish led to its eventual demise.
"There were three plays in the second inning where we went to sleep and it cost us," Alexander said. "We preached and preached all week that if we had one of those kinds of innings it would hurt, and it absolutely did."
Alexander guided his Greyhounds to the 26-3 record of a squad which had four seniors.
"This group of seniors has been a part of 88 wins in their four years, four straight 20-win seasons, so the work ethic they've put in, the effort is going to be tough to duplicate," Alexander said.
While that will be tough to duplicate, Alexander firmly believes his club and program are yearly players in the quest for the state tournament.
"We're going to be around," Alexander said. "We've got four great arms coming back, a stud catcher, and I think we'll find replacements for the guys we're losing and we'll be back."
The road back to this point begins in just a month or so when Alexander brings his baseball junkie squad to the Ohio Valley to take part in the annual Beast of the East Baseball Tournament for the second straight season.
In the opening Division I semifinal, Cinderella Massillon Perry saw its clock strike midnight as Dave Jones and the Panthers' were derailed by Westlake, 6-2.
It was Jones' first season at the helm after spending many years at Malone College in Canton and it was also the Panthers' first trip to the state tournament. His Panthers finished 21-11.
"Every week we gained a little more confidence," Jones said. "These kids gave me everything they had, but we ran into a good ball club that got some timely, two-out hits and that's baseball."
Trailing by a run, Perry put its first two hitters of the fifth inning aboard, but failed to score. Jones called that inning a "crusher."
"During the tournament, we'd been getting the big hits when we needed them, but we didn't get them today," Jones said.
While it was just too soon to begin to think about the positives, Jones knows those memories will soon out-weight the stinging loss.
"Maybe next week, I'll sit down and start thinking about everything we did," Jones said. "High school baseball is different than college and it's a lot of work. I really enjoyed it. We had great seniors and we've got some good younger guys coming up, too."
In actuality, the second semifinal game was a little bittersweet for the Ohio Valley.
Moeller's third hitter, Spencer Iacovone - the junior designated hitter - didn't get a hit, but did reach twice via the walk.
Iacovone is the son of Ohio Valley natives. His mother, Lisa (Graham), is a Cadiz High School graduate, while his father, Dom is a Steubenville Central graduate.
THE BASEBALL tournament was scheduled to resume today at 10 a.m. with Wheelersburg taking the field. The Pirates eliminated St. Clairsville one week ago in the regional final. However, heavy storms rolled through the Central Ohio area Thursday night.
TWO OHIO Valley umpires were scheduled to work today's second game. Woodsfield resident Kerry Langsdorf worked the plate in his first state tournament, while state-tourney regular Lance Jacob worked third base.
IN SKIMMING the program, I was surprised to see that Belmont County had produced three state baseball champions. Once I saw the schools were Martins Ferry, in 1930, and Powhatan Point in 1940 and 63, respectively, I didn't feel so ignorant to that piece of knowledge.
AT THE state softball tournament in Akron, Bob Gabel worked third base of Thursday's opening game, which saw Vienna Mathews defeat Covington.
Staskey can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @TLSportsSeth