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A gesture to remember: Russia player gives ball to Minster hero

Published: Monday, June 19, 2017 @ 9:00 AM
Updated: Tuesday, June 20, 2017 @ 10:43 AM

WATCH: Minster beats Russia in state final on walkoff hit

Thirteen miles separate Russia High School and Minster High School in northwest Ohio. State routes 66, 47 and 112 connect them — and now so does one baseball.

On June 3 at Huntington Park in Columbus, Russia and Minster played in the Division IV state championship final. Minster won 2-1 when senior Jon Niemeyer laced a single down the line in left.

Russia left fielder Trenton Monnin fielded the ball and relayed it to shortstop Dion Puthoff as Minster's Jared Huelsman raced home with the winning run in the bottom of the seventh. There was no chance to make a play at the plate. Puthoff kept the ball as Minster celebrated its third title in seven years.

PHOTOS: Russia vs. Minster

The story might have ended there. On the bus ride home, Puthoff joked with teammates about whether he should burn the ball. That would be one way to soothe the pain. In the end, however, after talking with his brother and sister, Puthoff put his disappointment behind him and decided to not only spare the ball's life but to preserve it for a lifetime.

On Thursday, Puthoff called Niemeyer's coach, Mike Wiss, to find out if Minster had held its postseason banquet. When he heard that had already happened, he called a friend who knew Niemeyer to find out where he lived. Then Puthoff drove 15 miles to Niemeyer's home to hand deliver the ball and a letter.

"Jon, I picked this up at the end of the game as something to remember my experience by," Puthoff wrote. "After thinking about it, I realized it would mean a lot more to you to have your game-winning hit ball. You played a great game and I want you to have it. Congrats on a great season and a great career."

Niemeyer wasn't home when Puthoff arrived. Alyssa Niemeyer, Jon's sister, answered the door and accepted the box with the ball and the letter.

Bryan Niemeyer, Jon's dad, didn't hear about the ball until Saturday. That's when he posted a photo of the ball and letter to Twitter. As of Monday afternoon, it had been shared on Twitter 187 times and received 680 likes.

"I thought it was worthy of some sort of notoriety," Bryan said. "I was very impressed by Dion's gesture. It was pretty cool showing what sportsmanship and high school sports are all about. That was a tough way to lose a game, a loss on a walk-off hit. That was pretty big of him."

Scenes from the Division IV state baseball final between Minster and Russia on Saturday, June 3, 2017, at Huntington Park in Columbus.(David Jablonski - Staff Writer)

Scenes from the Division IV state baseball final between Minster and Russia on Saturday, June 3, 2017, at Huntington Park in Columbus.(David Jablonski - Staff Writer)

Jon didn't think about getting the ball after the game. It wasn't until he had it that he realized what it meant to him.

"Honestly, I was just surprised he drove all the way to my house to give me the ball," said Jon, who plans to study construction management at Columbus State in the fall. "I hope to see him sometime soon so I can thank him."

Russia coach Kevin Phlipot wasn't surprised to hear of Puthoff's gesture.

"I texted him earlier this morning to tell him how proud I was of him," Phlipot said Monday. "If you knew him, that's in his character. He comes from a great family. His parents did a heck of a job."

Time has helped Russia overcome its disappointment of falling short of its first state championship since 1971. The Raiders finished 24-7 and made their first final four appearance since 1975.

"Right after the game, we were upset about it," Puthoff said. "But we're proud of what we did."

Minster celebrates Jon Niemeyer's game-winning hit against Russia in the Division IV state championship game on Saturday, June 3, 2017, at Huntington Park in Columbus. DAVID JABLONSKI / STAFF(David Jablonski/Staff)

LOOK: Vanderbilt lights up Dudley Field for the holiday season

Published: Friday, December 15, 2017 @ 9:07 PM

After going bowling in 2016, the Vanderbilt Commodores are staying home for the holidays in 2017 after finishing 5-7, with their only SEC win coming against lowly Tennessee.

So what is the football program doing with all of that extra time? Evidently, getting into the holiday spirit a little bit early. On Friday, the team revealed an awesome-looking set of lights around the logo at midfield at Dudley Field:

Definitely, a cool look, though it’s unclear just how visible that setup is for anyone actually on campus. Either way, it looks great on social media, and is sure to get Dores fans in the mood for the holidays.

Baylor adds pledge from 3-Star OG Princeton Pines

Published: Friday, December 15, 2017 @ 9:06 PM

matt rhule-baylor bears-Princeton Pines-commitment

Matt Rhule’s 2018 class has added yet another key piece.

On Friday night, Tara (La.) offensive guard Princeton Pines brought his recruitment to a close and committed to the Baylor Bears, according to a report fro Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports

Pines holds 18 offers to date, including invitations from Mississippi State, SMU, Arkansas, Houston, Memphis, TCU and Texas Tech, among others.

Pines officially visited Baylor on Dec. 8 and needed only one more week to decide that Waco would become his new home.

With Pines now on board, Baylor’s 2018 class is up to 21 members and ranks No. 30 in the nation and No. 6 in the Big 12.

A 6-foot-5, 327-pound prospect, Pines is ranked as the nation’s No. 1,101 player, No. 45 offensive guard and the No. 45 player in Louisiana, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.


This story will be updated. 

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4-star JUCO cornerback Jeremy Webb commits to Virginia Tech

Published: Friday, December 15, 2017 @ 9:06 PM

Jeremy Webb-Virginia Tech football commitment

Justin Fuente and Virginia Tech picked up a big commitment from the junior college ranks on Friday evening. Jeremy Webb, a cornerback at ASA College in New York, has pledged to the Hokies.

Webb announced the news of his commitment on his Twitter account.

According to 247Sports’ rankings, Webb is the class of 2018’s No. 11 JUCO recruit, regardless of position. He is also slotted as the country’s No. 2 cornerback.

The 6’3″, 195-pounder is a 2015 graduate of Lincolnshire (Ill.) Stevenson High School, where he recorded 7 pass deflections and 2 interceptions. He received offers from Iowa State, Nebraska, Ole Miss, Temple, Tennessee, UCF, Virginia Tech and West Virginia, with the Hokies and Mountaineers being his only two official visits.

Webb was in Blacksburg for the Hokies’ emotional win over Pitt on November 18, when Virginia Tech needed a last-second goal line stand to defeat the Panthers.

I loved it…The atmosphere was great. The fans, the coaches, the players showed me a lot of love. It was a great experience.

This past season with ASA College, Webb recorded 29 tackles and 4 pass deflections.

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JUCO DT Charles Cole names Kansas in top 3

Published: Friday, December 15, 2017 @ 8:36 PM

charles cole-kansas jayhawks-top 3-kansas

As the early signing period approaches throughout the coming days, various lists will be cut and commitments will be made.

The former proved true for Butler C.C. defensive tackle Charles Cole on Friday, who trimmed his list of options to just three finalists, naming a top three of Kansas, Memphis and UNLV.

A 3-star prospect, Cole’s 247Sports profile doesn’t currently note an offer from the Jayhawks, although he does own documented invitations from Fresno State, UNLV, Abilene Christian, Murray State and Southeastern Louisiana.

Kansas State held Cole’s lone Crystal Ball projection, but of course, the Wildcats don’t remain in the mix down the stretch.

As far as Kansas is concerned, David Beaty’s 2018 class currently consists of 10 commitments and ranks No. 84 nationally and dead last in the Big 12, per the 247Sports Composite rankings. A commitment from Cole would bolster that haul notably.

A 6-foot-3, 280-pound prospect, Cole is ranked as the nation’s No. 96 JUCO prospect, No. 21 defensive tackle and the No. 21 player in Kansas, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.

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