Getting His Chance: East’s Ianni is The Republic Baseball Player of the Year

When Ethan Ianni finally got to play varsity baseball at the end of his junior year last season, he showed promise that he could be a dominating pitcher for Columbus East.

So in his first full season with the Olympians, Ianni delivered on that promise. He led East to sectional and regional titles and a Class 4A final four appearance.

“Last summer, really I stepped up in the offseason and then put that to work this year and really made a lot of improvements this year like (velocity)-wise and how many innings I threw as a pitcher,” said Ianni, who is this year’s The Republic Baseball Player of the Year.

Ianni played junior varsity as a freshman and dressed for the tournament when the Olympians made it to the 4A title game. He was poised to make an impact as a sophomore, but that season was canceled because of the COVID pandemic.

Then last year, Ianni experienced tendonitis in his elbow and wasn’t able to pitch at the beginning of the season. Then, he was contact traced and had to miss a couple more weeks before coming back last in the season.

“I was really antsy to get on the field last year,” Ianni said. “When I was finally ready to play, I got contact traced at school. I was trying to enjoy it as much as I could last year while I was on the field because I’ve been so ready to play high school baseball those first two years that I was very happy to play last year. All of my stuff was working. I had been working really hard in practice on being able to come right in and help our team.”

This year, Ianni was able to do that. He went 6-3 with a 3.22 ERA and one save. At the plate, he had five doubles, two home runs, eight RBIs and 13 runs scored.

“He was having some elbow pain in the offseason (last year), and then it started to feel better at the beginning of the season,” East coach Jon Gratz said. “We kind of eased him into it slowly last year. He was pretty dominant last year in the time that he threw.”

Ianni was at his best in the sectional and regional. He allowed only one run and struck out 13 in a 2-1 sectional semifinal win against Bloomington North. He then allowed only one run in eight innings in a 4-1 regional semifinal win against 4A No. 2 Mooresville.

“I think we really performed well at the end of the year,” Ianni said. “A lot of people didn’t think we’d be where we were at the end of the year, but our group of guys, we knew from the beginning what we were capable of, and I think we showed that in our run at the end of the year.”

“He had a great year, a great tournament run,” Gratz said. “The last game (a semistate loss to Cathedral), he was a little off, but he lived up to expectations. I think he has a very bright future.”

Both Ianni and Gratz think Ianni is a better in warmer weather.

“I’d say as the weather picked up, I was more comfortable with throwing some of my breaking balls because the warmer your hands get, the better you can grip pitches and stuff like that, and your body just feels a lot looser when the weather starts to get hot,” Ianni said.

“He started off a little slow, and he kind of got into it and started throwing harder as the year went on,” Gratz added. “He’s a better warm-weather pitcher. When it warms up, his velo starts to increase a lot.”

Despite that, Ianni will begin his college baseball career in a cooler region. He is headed to Jackson College, a two-year junior college in Jackson, Michigan.

“The recruiting process with them was really easy, and I felt really comfortable around their coaches,” Ianni said. “This fall, I went up with Demand Command, and we played against them in the fall season, and I fell in love with the area and the team a a whole. I felt really comfortable up there.”

Ianni will see a couple of familiar faces at Jackson. Teammates Harry Major and Logan Christophel are headed there, as well, and the trio plan to room together.

After hitting 89 MPH on the radar gun this season, Ianni hopes to reach 90 this summer.

“I just really want to step up and continue to gain velocity and be one of (Jackson’s) better pitchers next year,” Ianni said. “The plan for me is to go up there and get stronger and develop as a player. Then, the goal is to go D-I from there.”

The Republic All-Area Baseball team:

Ethan Ianni, Columbus East: The senior went 6-3 with a 3.22 ERA and one save and had five 2B, two HR, eight RBIs and 13 runs scored.

Blake Borkhardt, Columbus East: The sophomore batted .391 with 21 runs scored and led the Olympians with six HR and 28 RBIs.

Harry Major, Columbus East: The senior batted .342 with 14 RBIs and 22 runs scored and led the Olympians with 19 SB.

Logan Christophel, Columbus East: The senior led the Olympians with a .448 average and had five 2B and 12 runs scored.

Josh Luedeke, Columbus East: The senior batted .299 with three HR, 26 RBIs and 12 runs scored and led the Olympians with seven 2B.

Will Rieckers, Columbus East: The senior batted .324 with 11 RBIs and led the Olympians with seven 2B and 24 runs scored.

Will Baker, Columbus North: The senior went 4-3 with a 3.80 ERA and batted .315 with 14 RBIs and 15 runs scored.

Zach Wager, Columbus North: The senior went 6-1 with a 1.82 ERA and batted .259 with 12 RBIs and a team-high 22 runs scored.

Dyllan Redmon, Columbus North: The senior batted .305 with 21 RBIs and 12 runs scored and went 2-0 with a 1.40 ERA.

Zach McLean, Columbus North: The sophomore led the Bull Dogs with a .338 average, nine 2B, three HR and 22 RBIs and went 2-2 with a 5.01 ERA.

Jacob Vogel, Jennings County: The senior went 4-1 with a 2.18 ERA, batted .427 with 24 RBIs and 22 runs scored and led the Panthers with 14 2B and 24 RBIs.

Logan McIntosh, Jennings County: The senior led the Panthers with a .489 average, three 3B and 38 runs scored and had one HR and 18 RBIs.

Carson McNulty, Jennings County: The senior went 5-1 with a 3.13 ERA and batted .358 with one HR and 26 runs scored and led the Panthers with 24 RBIs.

Keegan Manowitz, Jennings County: The junior went 2-1 with a 2.85 ERA and batted .306 with two HR, 15 RBIs and 30 runs scored.

Koby Johnson, Hauser: The senior went 6-4 with a 2.03 ERA, led the Jets with five HR and had 22 RBIs and 19 runs scored.

Eli Miller, Hauser: The senior went 4-2 with a 2.10 ERA and had five 2B, one HR, 11 RBIs and 22 runs scored.

Devin Pate, South Decatur: The sophomore went 5-5 with an 0.99 ERA, batted .360 and led the Cougars with 21 RBIs and 30 runs scored.

Avery Seegers, South Decatur: The junior led the Cougars with a .485 average, nine 2B and two HR, had 20 RBIs and 20 runs scored and went 2-2 with a 0.84 ERA.

Riley Palmeter, Edinburgh: The senior led the Lancers with a .394 average, eight 2B, 17 RBIs and 22 runs scored.

Honorable mention

Brown County: Jack Sichting. Columbus Christian: Cam Watts-Pritchard. Columbus East: Will Boyer, Alex McComb. Columbus North: Luke Harmon, Connor Hensley. Edinburgh: Travis Jones. Hauser: Levi Gollmer, Sam Miller, Simeon Wasil. Jennnings County: Austin Byford, Cole Sigler. South Decatur: Dale Peters, Evan Wullenweber. Trinity Lutheran: Nathan Voelker.