The recently named Division IV Player of The Year wrapped up his high school career with a 24-1 record, a Division IV state runner-up trophy, a scholarship to pitch for the Buckeyes…and motivation to get still better, and become as good as he can be.
Batavia, OH – Lincolnview High School’s Landon Price was all smiles Friday.
Recently graduated, he finished his high school career with a 24-1 mark as a starting pitcher, and was named the 2022 Division IV Ohio High School Player of The Year.
He pitched his Lancers team to the Division IV state finals championship, where they lost to Russia High School, but not before Price would strike out 10 and pitch into the sixth inning…before running aground to the pitch count, had to leave the game, and ultimately lost, 10-4.
Renowned as a strike-throwing machine, he was recruited early in his high school career by Ohio State coach Greg Beals and signed his letter of intent last year to become a Buckeye. He has the tools – a fastball that routinely clocks in the 88-90 range, a curve that he throws so comfortably he routinely throws it instead of the fastball to get ahead in the count, and a changeup that’s improving by the day…a touch pitch for which Price seems to have just the right touch.
His strikeout-to-walk ratio throughout high school has been ridiculous, something like 10 to 1…legit, given that in the losing effort to Russia in the finals he struck out 10 and walked 2 on a day when he clearly wasn’t at his best.
And he’s done all this while standing 5’10” tall, and he weighs maybe 175 pounds. His delivery is proportionately deceiving. The ball comes out easy, getting on top of opposing hitters before they realize it…the breaking pitch effective on either side of the plate. A hitter on Friday described it this way: “It looks a lot faster because it’s coming from someone smaller.”
To put it simply, it feels pretty good this summer to be in Landon Price’s shoes.
But pitching for the Ohio Warhawks (out of Springfield) Friday – for the first time since that championship loss to Russia (the first of his career) – he was noticeably rusty from the three-week layoff. His command was not crisp as usual. Pitching against a Midland team made up of first-year college players and top high schoolers about to play their first year of college baseball, he actually walked the leadoff hitter in the first. Moments later he walked a second hitter before collecting himself, making some adjustments, and stranding the two base runners for a scoreless inning.
He gave two runs on three hits in the second, then pitched a scoreless third. The Warhawks, in the meantime, would score three in the third to take a 3-2 lead, and Price would preserve that lead before coming out at the end of the fourth. His line: 4 innings, 2 runs (earned), 65 pitches, 3 walks and a strikeout.
“I wasn’t sharp today,” he smiled afterwards, but not before greeting his grandmother and a contingent of family who had made the journey from Van Wert to Cincinnati to see him pitch. Family matters, as it should.
“I didn’t have the feel for my curve, and I didn’t have the good command of the fastball. I had to make adjustments, so I thought I did a good job of mixing the fastball and the change.”
Translation: He had to pitch, find a way to compete on a day when his bread-and-butter was a bit crusty. And he did it against older, better competition than he saw for the last four years in the Northwest Conference.
He was first seen by Ohio State coach Greg Beals in 2020 when he was a sophomore.
“The first time they saw me pitch was down in Lake Point, Georgia, at the WWBA,” he says. “I pitched pretty well, and I think they enjoyed seeing my resiliency on the mound. I just tried to keep my nose down and get guys out the best way I could, a little like I did today.
“I developed a relationship with Coach Beals. He was a really good guy. I enjoyed that, and I’m sad that he’s gone now. But I’m excited for the new opportunity with the new head coach.”
But before that, and his Ohio State debut in fall baseball, there’s work to be done.
“Yeah, I’m going to get in the weight room this summer,” he said earlier in the week. “I want to get stronger and add to my fastball velocity. And I also want to get more confident with the changeup. That’s been a good pitch for me and I want to make it better.
“Today the change was a good complement the fastball…when I didn’t have my curve. I froze some guys with it on the first pitch – got ahead in the count. It gave me more options. I knew in the bullpen that I didn’t have my breaking pitch and that’s a pitch that I use to get ahead in counts. I didn’t get a good feel for it until about the third inning, and then it began to come around. It helped me at the end.”
24-1 as he leaves Lincolnview, it’s a school more known for its basketball (and alumni like Lima Central Catholic coach Frank Kill) than it is for baseball. But Price and fellow pitcher/shortstop Dane Ebel have put the Lancers on the baseball map recently, making state Final Four appearances for the past two seasons.
But his past will have a different meaning now as he moves on to a much stiffer level of competition…to earn the trust of new Ohio State coach Bill Mosiello.
“I think the coaches there care about what you did in high school, but I’ll have to continue to work hard and prove myself, especially with a new coach. I’ve had a couple of conversations with him, I met him for the first time at the press conference, and he’s told me that he likes the way I throw strikes and get ahead of hitters – letting the defense work behind me. Fall baseball is going to be big for me, to just go out and compete. Try to get guys out.”
Division IV Player of The Year is an honor about which he smiles, and says modestly: “It feels pretty good.”
Like he felt Friday, while paying tribute to the state Finals loss to Russia, a team that he freely talks about with respect.
“They had a good game plan, and they came in ready to swing. I tried my best, but they just found some holes.”
Academically, he’ll study business administration at Ohio State and handling the class load with not be an issue. When you talk to him you’re impressed by his maturity, knowing he’ll balance that with the business of pitching, and no surprise if he gets to another, different, honors level. For those who remember, there’s a great similarity to former Buckeye lefthander (and current Cleveland Guardian), Tanner Tully.
But first things first…he has to learn. He smiles at the prospect – the challenge – the summer ahead.
It feels good to be in his shoes.