Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Cincinnati Midland U18 baseball aims for 2022 Connie Mack World Series

They’ve been doing baseball at Midland since the late 1960s when dirt-skin infields and wood benches were prevalent along with a community jug of water.

From an insurance company sponsorship, “Papa” Joe Hayden built a diamond dynasty that he surveyed with great pride until his passing at age 85 in 2014.

The talent that has worn what looks like a Michigan “M” is staggering. Over 3,000 players continued into college, 47 have been Major League Baseball first-round draft picks and 100 former Midland players have made it to the big leagues, including two National Baseball Hall of Fame members, Barry Larkin and Ken Griffey Jr.

More:Announcing Enquirer’s 2022 Spring All-Stars for Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky

Last year’s first-round pick of the Angels, Sam Bachman of Miami University, was a Midland Redskin. Ditto for fourth-rounder Cal Conley (Loveland/West Clermont/Texas Tech) and fifth-rounder Luke Waddell (Loveland/Georgia Tech). Both are in the Atlanta Braves organization.

Both were part of Midland’s Connie Mack World Series triumph in 2017 and Conley teamed with New Richmond’s Lane Flamm (Xavier) and Zade Richardson (St. Louis Cardinals organization) in 2018 to bring home the hardware. Midland also won in 2019.

The coronavirus pandemic halted the tournament two years ago and last season, Midland fell short so a new crop of locals is eager to return the squad to Farmington, New Mexico. Most are already committed to major colleges.

Included in the group is Lebanon’s Parker Dillhoff, who helped the warriors to the regional semifinals which happened to be hosted by the Midland Complex. Dillhoff belted seven homers to lead the Eastern Cincinnati Conference and was a workhorse on the mound going 6-5 with 95 strikeouts in 51.1 innings and a 2.32 ERA.

Post-Midland he will play at Wichita State. After losing a heartbreaker to Moeller in the regional semifinals, he’s now on the same field as his last high school loss.

“We thought we were the better team that day but just came up short,” Dillhoff said. “You can always look back at what could have been, but you’ve got to get over it. Having this much talent (at Midland) is awesome. We all make each other better. We’re all looking to play at a high level in college and hopefully, someday get paid.”

Princeton's Andrew Edrington chases down Elder's Kevin Hilton as they round third base and head for home scoring two more runs for Midland 18U, June 28, 2022.

There are several players with a year remaining in high school that are turning heads. Princeton’s Andrew Edrington hit .461 and stole 18 bases for the Vikings while striking out 75 in 45 innings and maintaining a 2.33 ERA. The numbers are impressive considering he played on a team that lost 20 straight games before making a tournament run.

Edrington is a Clemson Tiger commit. He was spotted by them at a Georgia Prep Baseball Report Showcase. After a few pitches at 92 miles per hour, he was offered.

“How good they (Midland) are makes me better,” Edrington said of his summer mates. “I’ve got to fight for a spot on the field. It’s a struggle to make the team but to be able to go out there (New Mexico) and win a national championship would be great.”

Ethan Bosley of Dixie Heights looks to drive in a run with a base hit for Midland 18U, June 28, 2022.

From just down Clough Pike, West Clermont pitchers Trevor Ziegler and Nathan Taylor are Cincinnati Bearcat commits. Ziegler was 4-0 with a 2.16 ERA for the Wolves and Taylor was 5-2 and at 2.29.

Greater Catholic League-South Player of the Year Luke Vaughn is a notable catcher who is committed to Central Florida. Vaughn hit .360 with a home run and 16 RBI for the Elder Panthers and as a sophomore in 2021, he was on their state runner-up team.

“It’s tough all year long in high school ball but when you get to come together as a team with all of the guys you’re playing against, it makes it a whole lot easier,” Vaughn said. “It’s a lot different than high school ball. Here, it’s all dudes that are 90-plus (throwing velocity). Our whole staff is A-plus arms.”

UC commit Jack Vogel of CHCA and UCF commit Luke Vaughn of Elder have eyes on the Midland 18U game vs. Hawaii, June 28, 2022.

Cincinnati also has a Bearcat on the way from Midland in Jack Vogele of Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy. Vogele was the Miami Valley Conference Player of the Year with a .598 average, six homers and 29 RBI. Vogel has been in the Midland organization since he was 9 years old.

“It’s always held a big place in my heart,” Vogele said. “It’s my 10th summer with Midland now. It’s really turned me into the player I am today. If we can get a (Connie Mack) ring, that’s what I’ve been dreaming about since I was 9.”

Vogele’s CHCA teammate Will Murphy is also a pitcher on the team and will play at DePauw.

Another Midland Redskin who played against Vogele and Murphy is Cincinnati Country Day’s Jackson Campbell, who will play at South Carolina-Upstate. Campbell didn’t play until late in the season for the Nighthawks but hit .385. He was 1-0 in 10 innings on the mound after going 7-2 as a junior with a 1.96 ERA.

CCD’s Payton Ebbing, a Tennessee commit, is also on the squad after being limited his senior season due to injury.

Moeller's Clay Burdette fires off the mound as he pitches for Midland 18U against the Hawaii Tigers, June 28, 2022.

Midland’s mound men are strong with a pair of Ohio State commits, Chase Herrell of Milford and Clay Burdette of Moeller. Both will be high school seniors. Herrell was 3-2 with a 1.92 ERA for the Eagles and Burdette was 3-0 for the Crusaders. From St. Xavier, Michigan State-bound Thomas Ryan is another Big Ten arm.

Still with another year at Moeller, Burdette is surrounded by future Buckeye teammates. When not dealing on the bump, the 6-foot-3-inch, 213-pound rising senior is getting his hacks in as a first baseman.

“It’s good to be able to be around those guys and form relationships,” Burdette said of his fellow Ohio State commits.

Elder's Kevin Hilton fires the ball to first base for a put-out for Midland 18U, June 28, 2022.

Batavia’s Jared Teke (Northern Kentucky commit) and Elder shortstop Kevin Hilton add to the hometown flavor of the 2022 Redskins. Catcher Matthew Graveline from nearby Centerville is also an Ohio State commit.

The 2022 team can make its own history in late July should they be successful. Either way, they’ve all been part of an organization that has developed numerous local major leagues.

Centerville's Matthew Graveline makes a stop behind the plate for Midland 18U, June 28, 2022.

There’s a sign at the field that details the MLB names which include Loveland’s Adam Engel, Madeira’s Andrew Benintendi, Hamilton’s Ricky Stone and Mark Lewis, Tuffy Rhodes of Western Hills, Turpin’s Jim Leyritz, New Richmond’s Todd Benzinger, Mount Healthy’s Bill Doran, St. Xavier’s Chris Welsh, Withrow’s Ron Oester, Purcell Marian’s Andrew Denson, Anderson’s Richard Dotson, Deer Park’s Bob Boyce plus Barry Larkin, Steve Larkin, Ken Griffey Jr., Eric Surkamp, ​​David Bell, Mike Bell, Ricky Bell and Adam Hyzdu of Moeller.

Midland Field is on Founder’s Boulevard off of Clough Pike. Their next home games are July 1-3, 5 and 12. The Connie Mack World Series is set for July 20-31.

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