Hilltoppers Claim Baseball State Title
June 15, 2022 by Alan Kornspan

That mentality and positive outlook led the Toppers on June 11 to a dramatic come-from-behind 8-5 OHSAA state championship victory over the Hoban Knights at Akron’s Canal Park.

What an incredible baseball season for the Chardon Hilltoppers! Led by Coach Brian Long and seniors Christian Hall and Kyle Maronde, the Hilltoppers remained positive and confident throughout the season.

Game photos click here.

What an incredible baseball season for the Chardon Hilltoppers! Led by Coach Brian Long and seniors Christian Hall and Kyle Maronde, the Hilltoppers remained positive and confident throughout the season.

That mentality and positive outlook led the Toppers on June 11 to a dramatic come-from-behind 8-5 OHSAA state championship victory over the Hoban Knights at Akron’s Canal Park.

Trailing 5-3 entering the top of the sixth inning, Chardon got the leadoff runner on base when Leo Colombi singled to center field. After Ethan Faber and Will Francis both reached base after being hit by a pitch, Hall came to the plate with bases loaded and one out.

As he has done throughout the season, Hall came through in the clutch and singled to center field, scoring Colombi and bringing the Hilltoppers to within one run at 5-4.

With the bases still loaded, the Hilltoppers tied the game at 5-5 when Nolan Kirsch was hit by a pitch, leading Faber to score, and took the lead 6-5 as Francis scored from third on a wild pitch.

Then, still in the sixth inning with runners on second and third, Chardon’s Jake Barker doubled to left field, scoring Hall and Kirsch to seal the deal.

Maronde discussed the incredible team hitting that led the Hilltoppers to victory.

We knew Hoban was a great team coming into it,” said Maronde, a senior. “But we’ve been hitting all year long. That’s all we have been doing, hit, hit, hit. And that’s what we were coming to do today. That’s exactly what we did — double-digits hits up on the board — and that’s what won us the game.”

In addition to Chardon’s excellent offensive performance, the team also got quality pitching performances from Hall, an Alcorn State University commit who started on the mound, and Brandon Fatur.

After a scoreless first inning, the Hilltoppers scored twice to take a 2-0 lead. The Knights though, quickly evened things up, answering with two runs in the bottom of the second.

Hoban scored two runs in the bottom of the third to make the score 4-2; Chardon scored a run in the top of the fourth to make it 4-3; and Hoban added another run in the bottom of the fourth to take a 5-3 lead.

Once Chardon had scored five runs in the top of the sixth inning, making it 8-5, Hall returned to the mound in the bottom of the sixth and pitched two scoreless innings in relief to lead the Hilltoppers to the state championship.

Leading Chardon offensively were Barker, Colombi, Faber, Stone Fawcett, Francis, Hall and Maronde.

Barker, Colombi and Maronde all went for 2-4, while Faber was 1-1 and reached base successfully all four times he came to the plate.

Not only was Francis, a sophomore second baseman, an offensive leader in this game, but in the final four games of the Hilltoppers’ historic playoff run, Francis also went 7-13 (.538 batting average) and had a .688 on-base percentage.

Francis discussed the focus he had in obtaining great results at the plate.

We faced some really good pitchers,” Francis said. “They threw hard, so I was just looking fastball and adjusting to the off speed.”

In addition to Francis returning for the next two seasons, next year’s Hilltoppers should also return six other players who started the state championship game: Barker, Colombi, Faber, Fawcett, Heath Fetchick and Kirsch.

The future looks extremely bright for Hilltoppers baseball.