Sports Today: Archie Miller coming back to Ohio edition

Published: Tuesday, January 30, 2018 @ 10:15 AM

WATCH: Archie Miller was all business in first Indiana press conference

Before we get started, let’s get one thing straight: Tonight’s basketball game between Indiana and Ohio State is not a homecoming for Archie Miller. 

He’s not a native Ohioan, although he is from the half of Clevelvania that roots for the Steelers and Pirates. 

But, of course, he made his name as head coach of the Dayton Flyers for six years and was an assistant at Ohio State for two seasons before that. 

RELATED: Dayton basketball can keep dreaming big thanks to Archie Miller

Now he’s got a chance to become a villain to Midwest fans if he can restore Indiana to its past glory. 

Meanwhile, the Buckeyes are also under new management, as you may have heard. 

When the Hoosiers snatched Miller away from Dayton, I thought that was pretty bad news for Ohio State, too. 

He was the “it” candidate and a young up-and-comer with connections in the right places to recruit in the Midwest, much like Thad Matta when Ohio State hired him away from Xavier in 2004. 

His ability to coach ‘em up at Dayton was impressive and obviously what made him a coveted coaching name

Though the early reviews are mixed at IU, betting against him doing great things in Bloomington would be foolish. 

As it turned out, new Buckeye boss Chris Holtmann is far more than a consolation prize for Ohio State, which didn’t go looking for a coach until a couple of months after Indiana hired Miller. 

He put his program in place quickly at Butler, keeping the Bulldogs competitive in the Big East and upgrading the recruiting there as well. 

In fact, Holtmann outperformed Miller on the recruiting trail in the three years both were on the job, at least if you believe the rankings (you should). 

Dayton’s classes from 2015-17 ranked 91, 71 and 94 while Butler’s checked in at Nos. 103, 45 and 34, 

RELATED: How Archie Miller’s Dayton recruiting compares to similar programs

(For 2017, that’s early spring rankings before changes such as four-star prospect Kyle Young following Holtmann to Ohio State and McKinley Wright leaving Dayton’s class to sign with Colorado instead.) 

Holtmann is off to a hot start, overcoming some nonconference bumps to put the Buckeyes in position to contend for the conference crown. 

A win over Indiana tonight could help reignite the rivalry between the two schools that burned brightly over the three decades of the Bobby Knight era, it also would strengthen Ohio State’s chances of earning a top four seed in the Big Ten tournament. 

As for recruiting at their new schools, Miller got a big win when he signed Pickerington North four-star prospect Jerome Hunter last fall. 

Both coaches signed good-looking classes, but Indiana’s got bragging rights so far, ranking No. 19 nationally — three spots ahead of Ohio State… 

Then there’s Archie Miller’s old team.

Dayton has struggled to find consistency throughout Anthony Grant’s first season coaching his alma mater. 

The Flyers are tied for eighth in the Atlantic 10 with Saint Louis (11-11, 4-5) but only 1½ games out of fourth place. Dayton has head-to-head tiebreakers over three of the top-four teams, though it still has to play one of those teams, Virginia Commonwealth, on the road.

What’s left on the regular season slate? 

David Jablonski breaks it down

Meanwhile, there was a very interesting development involving Ohio State football and the local high school scene yesterday. 

After we noted in this space standout Dunbar running back Tavion Thomas announced his de-commitment from Oklahoma, our partners at Land of 10 reported Ohio State is suddenly back in the game for Thomas

The 247sports composite three-star visited Columbus unofficially last weekend and is headed back there this weekend on an official visit. 

Rivals also reported Ohio State running backs coach Tony Alford was in the Gem City at Dunbar yesterday. 

Close observers of recruiting will note these type of moves this late in the game often mean OSU coach Urban Meyer feels good about his chances of landing a player — and it’s safe to assume Thomas didn’t go ahead and announce his change of plans for no reason. 

If he ends up signing with Ohio State next week, Thomas will be the first Dayton City League player to do so for football since Colonel White running back Terry Pogue in 2000

The last Dunbar football player to be a Buckeye? 

You may have heard of him: Dan “Big Daddy” Wilkinson… 

The Super Bowl may yet be ruined by one of the NFL’s terrible rules, but there’s hope it will be the last league game marred by the current definition of a catch. 

Appearing on ESPN Radio’s now-listenable morning radio show with Trey Wingo and Mike Golic on Tuesday morning, commissioner Roger Goodell acknowledged the need to make some changes. 

They even know where the biggest problem with the catch rules lie, so that’s a positive sign something good will actually get done: 

“I think the thing where we’re really focused on is going to the ground, surviving the ground. I think that’s what has caused a lot fo the controversy and that’s what the committee will focus on in the next few weeks.”

When Wingo pointed out one of the biggest complaints is the difference between how a runner at the goal line and a player trying to make a catch at the goal line are officiated, Goodell replied: 

“You make a really strong point. It’s what we call consistency. That’s what everybody wants from officiating… and it’s hard when you see there’s a different rule on a catch when you’re crossing the goal line as opposed to a run.” 

He also said Pro Football Hall of Fame receiver, Middletown legend and former Ohio State standout Cris Carter is among the strict constructionists when it comes to what should be a catch: “Cris thinks you should catch the ball and hand it to an official and if you don’t it’s not a catch.” 

Hopefully Carter is outvoted if he’s part of the discussions for fixing this rule in the offseason…

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Wright State rallies to win Horizon League baseball title in historic fashion

Published: Saturday, May 26, 2018 @ 2:11 PM

Wright State’s Peyton Burdick celebrates after scoring one of five Raiders runs in the first inning of the Horizon League championship game against UIC on Saturday at Nischwitz Stadium. JOSEPH CRAVEN/CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Wright State’s Peyton Burdick celebrates after scoring one of five Raiders runs in the first inning of the Horizon League championship game against UIC on Saturday at Nischwitz Stadium. JOSEPH CRAVEN/CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Wright State’s offensive onslaught reached historic proportions Saturday as the Raiders beat UIC 11-9 in the Horizon League championship game at Nischwitz Stadium.

Peyton Burdick’s two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh gave WSU a 10-9 lead, capping a comeback victory that sends the Raiders to the NCAA tournament for the third time in four years.

Burdick’s homer, his ninth of the season for the HL tournament MVP, also marked the first time in program history WSU has scored in double digits in six consecutive games.

The Raiders outscored their three opponents 31-12 in tournament, winning their first two games easily before surviving a wild championship game.

Wright State scored five runs in the first inning to jump out to an early lead, but UIC put up seven in the fourth to go ahead 8-5. The seven runs came via extra-base three hits, four walks, two WSU errors and a hit batter.

The Raiders got back within 8-7 on a Seth Gray single in the bottom of the sixth, but UIC’s Aaron Ackerman led off the seventh to push the lead back to two.

Zack Weatherford’s solo home run in the bottom of the seventh made it 9-8 before JD Orr walked and Burdick blasted an Alex Padilla fastball over the fence in left center to set off the celebration.

Weatherford added an RBI double in the eighth as part of a four-hit day.

HL Player of the Year Gabe Snyder was 4 for 4 with an RBI and two runs scored, while Burdick was 3 for 5 with two RBIs and three runs scored.

Jeremy Randolph earned the win with 3.2 innings of relief work, while Ryan Weiss pitched the ninth to earn the save.

The Raiders will find out whom they are playing and where when the NCAA announces the 64-team field at noon Monday. The top 16 teams will host a regional in which four clubs play a double-elimination format.

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Wayne sprints to Division I boys regional track title

Published: Saturday, May 26, 2018 @ 11:26 AM


            Wayne teammates Justin Harris (left) and Zarik Brown celebrate after they helped win the 1,600-meter relay and clinch the team title over Centerville at Friday’s Division I regional track and field meet at Wayne High School. JEFF GILBERT / CONTRIBUTED
Wayne teammates Justin Harris (left) and Zarik Brown celebrate after they helped win the 1,600-meter relay and clinch the team title over Centerville at Friday’s Division I regional track and field meet at Wayne High School. JEFF GILBERT / CONTRIBUTED

Zarik Brown was walking near the podium next to the Wayne High School track Friday night when his teammate Joel Craig turned around and said, “You’re so loud over there.”

Brown just smiled. The four medals clanging around his neck were making all the noise. But not as much noise as Brown and his Wayne teammates made at the Division I regional. The Warriors won their eighth regional title and first since 2012 on the legs of Brown, Justin Harris, two relay teams and Craig, the shot put champion.

“(Friday) was one of their best efforts of the year and we’re peaking at the right time,” said longtime Wayne coach Mike Fernandez.

» PHOTO GALLERY: D-I regional track and field at Wayne

»RELATED: Milton-Union senior makes final state push

Harris and Brown, both juniors, will compete in four events at next weekend’s state meet at Ohio State as will Springfield sprinter and long jumper Quincy Scott. Wayne will try to add an outdoor team title to the indoor title they won earlier this year.

Harris won the 110-meter hurdles (14.13) and the 300 hurdles (37.61), denying runner-up Joshua Byars-Mason of Trotwood-Madison in both races.

“It was a pretty good day overall,” Harris said. “I should be dropping more times coming into the state meet, so I feel good coming into next week.”

»NO JOKE: Northwestern teammates are a 1-3 punch

»REGIONAL TRACK: “It’s all about moving on”

Brown and Scott raced each other to the finish three times. Scott won the 100 (10.80) and Brown was second (10.86). Brown won the 200 (21.31) and Scott was runner-up (21.61). They ran anchor in the 400 relay and Wayne’s team of Jaden Roberts, Diante Lesperance, Harris and Brown (41.69) held off runner-up Springfield.

“It really pushes me to go to my max,” Brown said of his races against Scott. “Every meet we see each other we know it’s going to be tough. We usually end up PR’ing a lot.”

»IT’S A RECORD: Lakota East flash passes mark that stood since 1990

»PHOTO GALLERY: D-I district track at Wayne

The race for the team title was completed (Wayne 83, Centerville 68, Springfield 41) in the 4x400 relay. Wayne’s team of Harris, Davontae McKee, Lucas Houk and Brown won (3:17.90) and Centerville was third.

“The fours, they call it a man’s race, so you gotta finish it through all the way,” Harris said. “I love the 400.”

So does Brown. He took the baton for the last leg in fourth place and started to gain ground immediately.

“That’s his best race, and the irony is I took him out of the open 400 because I needed him for the 4x400, 200, 4x100 and 100,” said Fernandez, who made that decision to maximize team points. “Our goal is to see if we can win next week as a team.”

»RELATED: Butler making surprise D-I baseball run

»RELATED: Elks’ vaulters push each other to the limit

Craig will be a big part of that effort. He won the shot put (56-0.25). His finished seventh at state last year at 56-11.5.

“I know I’ve got way more energy in my body,” said Craig, who also placed fifth in discus. . “I’ve been practicing for it, I’ve been wanting it, I’ve been thirsty, I’ve been hungry, I’m going to get it.”

Wayne will also be represented in the girls meet by Taylor Robertson and the 400 relay. Robertson placed second in the long jump and fourth in pole vault.

»OHSAA: No more stacking teams

Beavercreek sophomore Eileen Yang won her second regional pole vault title (12-4). She placed ninth at state last year.

“Last year’s regionals I was kind of a nervous wreck and pacing a lot and breathing really hard,” she said. “This year I got used to it and it was familiar territory because I practice here a lot.”

Troy sophomore Lenea Browder won the discus (149-2) to go with her runner-up shot put finish on Wednesday.

“I did not imagine coming in my freshman year doing it and then my sophomore year doing so much better,” Browder said. “This has been truly a blessing. I’m so happy and I’m so thankful.”

Centerville senior Andrew Craig won the 800 to return to state, where he placed fourth last year. Miamisburg senior Jason Hubbard won the high jump (6-7).

»RELATED: D-I baseball sectional photo gallery

• Minster won four events, including a distance sweep by Emma Watcke, to win the girls team title in the D-III regional at Troy’s Memorial Stadium on Friday, 85-60 over runner-up Columbus Grove.

A sophomore, Watcke placed first in the 1600 (5:01.59) and followed that with a win in the 3200 (11:13.08). Also winning for the Wildcats on Friday was jnior Madeline Magoto in the 800 (2:16.73).

»RELATED: Senior basketball standout a one-season wonder

Minster added seconds in the 4x400 relay and senior Grace Butler in the pole vault. On Wednesday, Minster won the 4x800 relay (9:25.32).

Waynesfield-Goshen won the boys D-III team title, edging Fort Loramie 72-66.

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Chaminade Julienne baseball earns second straight trip to state

Published: Friday, May 25, 2018 @ 7:59 PM

Highlights: Chaminade Julienne beats CHCA in regional final

The goal for the Chaminade Julienne baseball team ever since it walked off the field at Huntington Park last June was to earn another chance to play for the state championship.

Last winter, in the weight room at the high school, the Eagles kept track of how many days remained until they would get the chance.

"They had a board in there, and they had a countdown," CJ coach Mike Barhorst said. "It was 78 or 80 days or whatever when we started it."

» PHOTOS: CJ vs. CHCA

On Friday before a Division II regional championship game against Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy, Barhorst reminded them of the countdown.

"One day left until we make it to Huntington," Barhorst said.

The Eagles really have to wait another week, but after beating CHCA 5-4 at Mason High School, they will get the chance to avenge that 4-0 loss to Tallmadge in the state title game, and this time, Tallmadge will be opponent in the semifinals. The teams play at 7 p.m. Friday in Columbus.

The other state semifinal in Division II will pit Circleville against Wapakoneta or Ontario, who play their regional final at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Tallmadge beat Canfield 17-0 on Friday to win its regional. Chaminade Julienne didn't have quite the same easy night. For the second straight day, it experienced a dramatic seventh inning in Mason.

» REGIONAL SEMIFINAL: CJ wins on walk-off singleGame photos | CHCA routs Ross

The Eagles gave up a game-tying run to Columbus Bishop Hartley in the top of the seventh inning Thursday before winning the regional semifinal on a walk-off single by Sebastian Gongora in the bottom of the inning. This time, after scoring two runs in the bottom of the sixth on a throwing error, CJ had a 5-2 lead entering the seventh.

Nick Wissman walked the lead-off batter but then struck out the next two batters. After another walk, CHCA’s Lucas Rotello doubled to left field, scoring two runs.

With the tying run on second, however, Wissman got a groundout to second baseman A.J. Solomon to end the game.

“With a three-run lead, I thought we were going to be in pretty good shape, and then the next thing you know ...,” Barhorst said. “I had a lot of confidence Nick was going to get out of that, but it’s a little too close for comfort.”

Wissman took over in the sixth inning after five solid innings by Gongora, who struck out four and allowed two earned runs. Wissman retired the side in order in the sixth and earned the save in the seventh.

“Sebastian didn’t have his breaking ball early on, but he was still fighting through with his fastball and making good pitches,” Barhorst said. “Nick came in, and I kind of wanted to change things up. I didn’t want to give them another look at Sebastian just in case they started figuring him out. Just to change their view a little bit, I brought in the right-hander, throwing a little harder. It worked out.”

Chaminade Julienne fell behind early for the second straight day but didn’t trail for long. Ryan Peltier hit a solo home run in the bottom of the first to tie the game.

“We gave them that one run in the first inning on another error,” Peltier said. “I watched a ball go by and was expecting fastball. I hopped on it and let it fly.”

» REGIONAL TRACK: Northwestern takes two of top three spots in discus

In the second inning, Chaminade Julienne took a 3-1 lead. A single by David Ernst scored Solomon. A double by Ben Thomas scored Ernst.

Chaminade Julienne had chances to extend the lead in the next three innings, stranding a total of eight runners and leaving the bases loaded in the fourth and fifth.

In the sixth, Andrew Simones and Peltier walked to lead off the inning. Wissman put down a sacrifice bunt, and the catcher threw the ball past first base, allowing two runs to score as CJ extended its lead to 5-2. It needed both runs to earn its second straight trip to Columbus.

“We wanted to get back,” Peltier said. “We knew we had the team to get back. We just had to take it game by game.”

       

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Sampen gem carries Wright State into Horizon League tournament final

Published: Friday, May 25, 2018 @ 2:30 PM

Caleb Sampen takes no-hitter into seventh

Wright State coach Jeff Mercer used an unusual, yet thoroughly accurate word to describe his slight-framed starting pitcher Friday afternoon.

“That guy’s a monster,” Mercer said of Caleb Sampen after the lanky, 185-pound sophomore took a no-hitter into the seventh inning of the winners bracket final of the Horizon League tournament.

Sampen lost his no-hit bid with two outs in the seventh on a solid single to left, but WSU had a double-digit lead by then, well on its way to a 10-1 triumph of UIC at Nischwitz Stadium.

“Going in I knew they were a very well-pitched, well-coached team so it was going to be a pitchers’ duel,” Sampen said. “So we talked about mixing early all of my pitches and getting everything in the zone. Just make them beat you. Being able to throw all my pitches for strikes was probably the biggest thing today.”

›› Butler grad comes up big as WSU wins tourney opener

Sampen (5-0) allowed just one baserunner through 5.2 innings, but he issued back-to-back walks and hit a batter to load the bases and bring the tying run to the plate. But Sampen got UIC cleanup hitter Scott Ota to ground into an inning-ending force out to keep his no-hitter intact.

“Caleb Sampen was absolutely tremendous,” Mercer said. “He’s a guy you can really rely on, and he showed up today. Great players are tough and competitive, they love the spotlight and they love to be in the big moment, and Caleb’s that guy to a T.”

After Sampen got out of his only jam in the top of the sixth, the WSU offense scored six runs with two outs to blow things open with a 10-0 lead that marked the fifth consecutive game the Raiders have scored in double figures.

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“We know we’re capable of, and we had good at-bats all day,” said WSU No. 9 hitter Zach Weatherford, who was 2 for 3 with two RBIs.

Weatherford’s two-run single in the bottom of the fourth was the first hit of the game sparked the four-run frame.

Then his RBI bunt single with two outs in the sixth started the six-run onslaught.

“The call came from the dugout because the third baseman was back, and I just trusted it and put it down,” Weatherford said.

UIC manager Mike Dee, still stewing from a missed call a few minutes earlier on a pickoff throw to third base that would have ended the inning, earned an ejection just seconds after walking out to question whether Weatherford beat the throw at the first.

›› WSU offense in high gear

The Raiders added five more runs after the ejection on two-run singles by JD Orr and pinch-hitter Alex Alders and an RBI single by Peyton Burdick.

“We hammered balls the few innings and had nothing to show for it,” Mercer said. “Finally the competitiveness of our at-bats kind of wore on them and our ability to take balls and make (UIC starter Charle Cerny) be in the zone. And as good as he is, he eventually kind of lost feel.”

UIC scored its lone run on a play that put a scare into the WSU dugout. With the bases loaded and two outs, Raiders first baseman Gabe Snyder — the Horizon League Player of the Year — made a diving catch in foul territory in shallow right field and nearly threw out UIC’s Joshua Figueroa at the plate after he tagged up.

›› Snyder named Horizon League Player of the Year

Snyder hurt his left arm on the dive and had to come out of the game, but Mercer said he didn’t think the injury was serious.

“He just slammed the inside of his elbow and hopefully he just kind of hyper-extended it and kind of hit the funny bone,” Mercer said. “I almost yelled ‘don’t catch it.’ I didn’t care about that. We’re up by 10 runs. But players want to make plays. So you can’t take that competitiveness out of them.

“It was a great catch, but I just want to keep the best player maybe in program history healthy,” he added.

WSU goes into Saturday’s 12 p.m. game against the winner of the UIC-Milwaukee game needing to win one of two games to claim the title and advance to the NCAA Tournament for the third time in four years.

If the UIC-Milwaukee winner beats Wright State in the first game Saturday, there will be a winner-take-all final at 4.

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