FAIRBORN — Xenia pitching and Bellbrook hitting produced a pair of top performances during Wednesday’s Cincinnati Reds High School Showcase games at Wright State’s Nischwitz Stadium.
Ethan Wells was stellar on the mound for the Buccaneers in game one as he threw 5 1/3 no-hit innings against Greenville in a 7-4 victory. Luke Driskell led the Golden Eagles offense in the night cap with a 2-for-3 effort at the plate with two RBI facing Franklin to help his team win 5-2.
Both faced the pressure of stepping up on a big stage and reaped the rewards of their efforts.
Wells overpowers Green Wave
When he exited the game, Wells was unaware he had a no-hitter going.
He already had thrown one earlier in the season during a five inning game against West Carrollton. This would have been a bit more special.
Wells, a sophomore, was almost too dominant to be able to go the distance this time. After retiring the first 11 hitters he faced, 11 total strikeouts began to be coupled with five walks as his pitch count rose and control issues began.
“We were just trying to stay cool and do my thing,” Wells said. “I wasn’t really too worried about the strikeouts as they came with me executing pitches. Overall it was a good outing.”
Greenville had to be pleased he exited, as would the rest of the Miami Valley League.
Through five starts, Wells has struck out more than a third of his batters faced while limiting them to a .137 average against. His combination of fastball and breaking ball impressed fans in attendance and baffled the Green Wave during Wednesday’s game.
Xenia head coach Brandon Salyers said he felt having a large crowd come up the road in support made the performance a special one.
“That’s what these kids play for,” Salyers said. “They get up more for games like this. I hated to give up a home game, but it’s an opportunity for the kids and they love playing here.”
Wells was named as the game’s MVP and will be invited to participate in an on-field ceremony prior to the start of the Cincinnati Reds’ May 7 home game. He will receive a commemorative bat to keep.
He now ranks second in strikeouts within the MVL. His zero hits allowed will be bested by no one on the showcase’s big stage.
“It’s very special,” Wells said. “It’s really just another day on the mound, but for it to be in the showcase means a whole lot more.”
Driskell’s comeback shining brightly
A broken leg ended the 2022 season before it began for Driskell. He’s starting to make the most of a final chance during his season year.
After hitting a RBI double in the first inning over the head of the right fielder, he came through with a clutch triple in the fifth down the rightfield line to pad Bellbrook’s lead in what had been a tight game to that point.
As the ball was mishandled in the outfield, Driskell made a wide turn at third and appeared to think heading home was a possibility before he received the stop sign. All the while, his leg looked fine.
“I think breaking my leg has helped me get stronger with more confidence,” he said. “It’s helped me evolve my game because now I’m focusing on doing the right thing during games and the little things for the team. It helps me strive to be greater.”
That growth has helped Driskell become one of Bellbrook’s team leaders, according to head coach Jon Venters.
Referring to Driskell as a “fantastic kid,” Venters said he always sees him talking baseball with his teammates, picking up anyone’s spirits and discussing what is happening on the field.
“He’s always trying to find ways to be better and he’s always a great teammate,” Venters said. “I feel like I could go on and on about him because he’s a good baseball player and a good basketball player, but he’s a phenomenal human being.”
On the field, he’s been an all-around hitter for Bellbrook this season. Raising his average to .250, he ranks in the top-three on the team for OPS, doubles, RBI, runs, walks and stolen bases.
In a game against Carroll on April 4, he got to take the mound for the first time in almost two years and recently has begun making spot starts as well.
“It feels really good because I feel like I’m doing it for my teammates,” Driskell said. “I’m helping them win games and I want to show that I’m a leader and I can do great things on the field for them and then help them when they’re up to the plate have the confidence to do the same thing.”
Crediting Venters and the coaching staff, along with athletic trainer Mandy Woll and his physical therapists as some of his biggest supporters during what he described as a down time for him, he appreciated the way they reinforced his will power to keep his spirits high and wanted to begin finding ways to reciprocate the gestures.
“It made me feel a part of the team when I was out,” he said. “My teammates had a huge role, always supporting me and always helping to bring myself up.”
Driskell’s injury also reduced him to the role of the team’s unofficial social media manager a year ago, helping film player at-bats, big moments and posting about wins.
Now he’s being filmed coming through in big at-bats, producing big moments with his swings and posting strong numbers on the stat sheet.
Contact Steven Wright at 937-502-4498 and follow on Twitter @Steven_Wright_.