‘The next team knows’ the standard for Mason baseball after program wins first state title


AKRON — Mason High School baseball coach Curt Bly immediately thought about the plentiful players who pushed the program to become a Southwest Ohio powerhouse.

The ultimate reward had been in the vicinity for quite a while.

But the Comets finally — after 88 years — captured the pinnacle prize Sunday.

“I just said to our team, I said, ‘You know every time a team does something for the first time, they become the standard for the next group,” Bly stated to media while standing on the right-field concourse at Akron’s Canal Park.

Mason hoisted the Division I state baseball championship trophy after beating Twinsburg 8-1, setting that standard of becoming the first-ever in school history to do it.

And the road there wasn’t just impressive for the Comets. It was remarkable.

“I’m not crying yet because this is my last game,” senior Jacob Hanley said. “But we’re going to enjoy this one.”

Mason enjoyed postseason victories over St. Xavier, Troy, Elder, top-ranked Moeller and Perrysburg.

“It took us three times to win a regional, and when we did, the next team after that had done it,” said Bly, who has led the Comets the last 11 seasons. “We talked about they’re immortal now. They’re the first team, and the next team that has an opportunity knows it can be done.

“It’s because of them. I love them. I couldn’t be prouder of them.”


Mason, ranked No. 16 nationally by MaxPreps and seventh in the state, earned its second state final appearance in program history before finishing 28-6. The Comets were a Class AA state runner-up in 1987 and state semifinalist in 2022 and 2018.

There were three starters on this year’s state title team who played in the 2022 state semifinal loss to Grove City.

So, the experience was evident. Mason graduates 17 seniors.

“The next team knows,” Bly said. “These guys have made that happen. They stood on the shoulders that got here two years ago.

“Some of our leaders here were sophomores on that team,” Bly continued. “They watched those seniors will us to the Final Four and come up short. They knew because of that what we could do when we got here.

“Now the next team that gets here, they know we can win it.”

The Comets won seven consecutive games and will hang a state baseball championship banner at Mason High School for the first time ever.

“That’s pretty special,” said Hanley, the 2024 Division I state player of the year and an Indiana University commit. “To see that 2024 up on that banner and knowing that it’s our senior year. There are 17 of us, but sophomores, juniors, seniors — everybody was just as invested as the last guy. I can’t give enough props to the team.”

“Every year, I felt really confident that we were going to get it done,” Bly chimed in. “But this team, 17 seniors, the experience they have, the experience they had in 22. We started four sophomores on that state semifinal team at key positions. We felt it was going to be tough, and we knew our three opponents posed a problem. But we believed in our guys, and they believed in each other more importantly.”


Senior right-handed pitcher Michael Bilo got the state title start Sunday — a week after no-hitting Moeller in the Comets’ 3-0 regional final victory.

“He’s Michael, man. A bulldog,” Bly said. “Competed. Wasn’t quite as sharp as he was last Friday night, but good enough obviously.

“Once you get a lead and you stretch it a little bit like we did two big innings in the middle of the game, it totally changes the complexion of how the game is managed and how they can manage the game.”

Hanley threw a complete-game shutout and laced the winning RBI-double that scored Alex Koelling in the state semifinals.

“We’ve been with each other since kindergarten,” Bilo said. “To finish on that note last time representing Mason with these guys is just a blessing.”

Hanley, Koelling, Mark Rutherford and Casey Doner each collected two hits in the state final. A four-run sixth inning all but iced it for Mason.

“Obviously, we don’t take the foot off the gas,” Bilo said. “We put four more up, but obviously that makes pitching way easier.”


Hanley and his Comet teammates kept the competitive vibes going after their thrilling 1-0 win over Perrysburg in the state semifinals Friday.

“We went back to the hotel and played about five hours of cap baseball,” Hanley said. “We have that going for us. We came back in today knowing what we needed to get done.

“We did it pretty effectively. We were perfect today. I don’t think it could have been any better.”

FOR THE 45040

Hanley said the entire Mason baseball team received the words of wisdom needed to get the job done this past weekend.

“Everything,” Hanley said of what it means to bring back the trophy for the Comets faithful. “We got hundreds of texts after the Perrysburg game telling us to go win it.

“Seeing all that gave us a lot of support, and we knew a ton of it was behind us. To be able to get it done on this stage is everything.”

The 45040 celebrated with the team as the bus arrived home Sunday night.


“To be honest with you, I don’t know,” Bly said of what was going through his mind during the final out that clinched the title. “It wasn’t like the joy of the other winning the regional. I just didn’t know how to react.

“Like I said, all of those other players,” Bly added. “I was thinking about so many other guys that played for me and guys that laid it on the line to make this happen and we fell short. We did it for them today. I’m not going to say any names because I don’t want to miss anybody. Fifteen, 30, 25 names went through my head when these guys were dogpiling.”

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