Austin Achter and Clayton Ruch are glad they made the decision to play baseball for the Toledo Hawks this summer.
The Hawks compete in the 12-team Tri-State Collegiate League and the four-team Toledo Federation League, for ages 22 and under. They are in first place in both leagues.
“It’s fun,” said Achter, a 2011 Clay grad who redshirted at Ohio State this past season. “We have a good group of guys. I like coach (Ed) Mouch. He sits back and lets us do our thing. We have a good group of guys who work well with each other. We’re learning each other’s game and that’s going to be crucial going into the College World Series.”
Left, Austin Achter (Clay), now at Ohio State, pitching during the BCSN All Star Game at Ned Skeldon Stadium his senior year, 2011. Above, Owens College MVP, Clayton Ruch(Eastwood) (Press file photo of Achter by John Pollockwww.pollock.smugmug.com
Mauch, the head coach at Sylvania Southview, is in his fourth season leading the Hawks, who won
NABF College World Series titles in 2008 and 2010.
Achter and Ruch, a relief pitcher and a 2010 Eastwood grad, are in their first seasons with the Hawks. Ruch, who will pitch at Wayne State University in Detroit next season, was named Owens Community College’s the most valuable player in 2012.
“It’s been fun playing for the Hawks,” Ruch said. “I’m playing with a a good group of guys, very talented. We have a lot of people who can play different positions, and everybody seems to be able to hit on this team. I’ve played against a couple of them, and a few of them were teammates of mine at Owens.”
Through July 11, the Hawks were 23-4 and in first place in the Tri-State League with eight regular-season games remaining. The league was split into two divisions this year, and the first-place team in each division meets at the end of the season in a three-game playoff.
The Hawks had a 7-1 record and were in first place in the Toledo Fed League. The top two finishers in that league receive automatic bids to the NABF College World Series, which will be held Aug. 9-12 in Toledo, Oregon and Sylvania. The Hawks lost in the quarterfinals last year.
Mouch likes his team’s chances to regain the CWS title this summer.
“We’ve got little bit of everything,” he said. “We have depth on the mound, with 14 pitchers on the roster. We can throw almost any of them out there and feel comfortable they’re going to give us a good performance. Defensively, we have lot of kids who can play multiple spots. I have versatility to move kids around. We have good team speed and decent power. I could go through our roster and every kid listed probably can play two or three positions.”
Achter plays right field or left field and has also been the Hawks’ designated hitter. He appeared in 21 games through July 11 and was hitting .327 with two doubles, two triples, 11 runs, nine RBI and three stolen bases.
“Austin has had a pretty good year,” Mouch said. “I don’t know what his expectations are during the year. He’s swung the bat well, maybe not as consistently as he’d like to. Defensively, he’s very good in the outfield and he can run, which gives us another dimension on the basepaths.”
Achter said things have “gone well” so far, despite the fact that he didn’t have any official at-bats as a redshirt at OSU last season.
“I got some at-bats in practice,” he said. “This is a crucial summer for me to get as many quality at-bats as I can. For the most part I’m having some pretty quality at-bats. I’d like to see myself pull the ball a little more. I’ve been taking it the other way this summer, and I think that’s just natural. I’ve been pulling the ball a little bit lately, so that’s a good sign.”
Achter, 19, said just being on the roster for coach Greg Beals’ Buckeyes was a good learning experience.
“I think the redshirt (year) was good for me, to sit back and really learn about college baseball from the dugout,” Achter said. “Coach Beals did a good job letting me see what college baseball was all about and being able to see what it’s like from a fielding and hitting standpoint.”
Ruch, 20, made the most of his one season at Owens. He transferred from Cleveland State following the 2011 season after CSU dropped its baseball program. He’s pitched in six games in relief for the Hawks and had a 1-1 record with a 4.00 ERA in nine innings, with six strikeouts and six walks.
“It’s been just about what I expected,” said Ruch, who pitches primarily submarine style. “We have a nice rotation going; we have a lot of pitchers. I’m working on a few pitches and throwing a little harder. I want to keep getting better as a pitcher.”
Mouch said he’s happy having Ruch and Achter on this year’s squad.
“Clayton’s had some very good outings for us,” Mouch said. “He’s throwing the ball extremely well at times. They have both contributed to the success of the team this year and they’ll have success at their colleges. They’re always welcome to come back and play for us next year. They’re not only great baseball players but great kids in general.”