The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

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Without a shadow of a doubt, Coach Kyle Rase’s Gibsonburg Golden Bears are a “complete baseball team.”

Sitting at 15-2 overall, and 4-2 in Toledo Area Athletic Conference play, their only league losses are at the hands of league rival and 2013 Division IV regional runner-up Northwood in a narrow 3-2 setback and to TAAC foe Cardinal Stritch 5-0.

That means little to this spring’s or any edition of this storied ‘Bears program. Gibsonburg won district baseball championships in 1974, ’89, 2001, ’05, and ’07; regional titles in ’89 and ’05; and brought home the ultimate prize in a Division IV state championship in 2005, under Rase, in his rookie year as head coach.

However, during an early-season doubleheader against Old Fort at Hilfiker Elementary in Gibsonburg on a cold, blustery day in early April, the Bears impressed with their more-subtle intangibles, like playing loose and genuinely seeming to enjoy spending time together.

“I think chemistry is a key ingredient in team success,” concurs Coach Rase, now well into his 10th year.

Gibsonburg is coming off a strong showing in ’13 that saw the orange-and-black finish 18-9 overall, although only 5-7 in TAAC play, thanks to team-building shown by this same group of players…save for a few cornerstones of the program in Gage Collins, Tyler Witte, Bill VanDerLaar, Dennis Shammo, and Tristain Palmerton, all of whom the ‘Bears lost to graduation.

“These are really good kids,” Rase adds, “and they enjoy playing baseball together, and being together off the field, as well. It is a very loose bunch, and I think you have to be that way with as many games as you play in a short amount of time. I always tell the guys, ‘You cannot get too high or too low in a baseball season.’”

Laden with senior leadership and upper-classmen experience with a handful of younger athletes sprinkled in for depth at the all-important 1-position, Gibsonburg’s pitching staff has proven itself. The staff includes seniors Gabe Hickman (right-hander) and Matt Lutzman (right-hander), juniors Bryce Ernsthausen (right-hander) and Andrew Dellinger (a southpaw), and sophomores Preston Arriaga and Brent Hayward (last year’s ace with a 4-1 record, and a 2.89 ERA), both of whom are righties.

In the doubleheader against OF, Hickman two-hit a young Stockader team while throwing for seven Ks and no walks while pacing his then 4-0 ‘Bears to an overwhelming 14-0 win in the morning game. In the afternoon tilt, it would be the sophomore Arriaga’s turn, who would go on to be just as dominant, with his time on the Hilfiker hill showing six strikeouts, one walk, and only a single hit for his efforts in a 10-0 win.

The morning game would go only 4½ innings, ending because of a mercy rule with Hickman going the distance. Game two was also cut short to five innings, with Arriaga going four. The big southpaw Dellinger came in to relieve Arriaga in the fifth, mowing through the Stockader batters one, two, three via two Ks and a groundout.

Hickman, in the ‘Bears’ season opener at New Riegel, threw for four Ks, and one walk to help pace a 12-0 shellacking of the Blue Jackets. After a DH-date with Hardin Northern on April 19, the scoreboard numbers read Golden Bears 20, Polar Bears 0 in game one, and G-Burg 10, HN 0 in the afternoon tilt, with Ernsthausen (five Ks, 0 walks, one hit) and Arriaga (eight Ks, no walks, one hit-batsman, and two hits) taking the wins from the bump respectively.

Other examples of solid ‘Bear work from the mound would be Dellinger’s 13-8 decision over a young, but scrappy Danbury team, and Lutzman’s 9-6 victory over neighboring Fostoria, while Hayward notched a pair of Ks and three walks in a 12-3 ripping of Rossford, and nine strikeouts (but also four walks, three hit batters, and a couple earned runs) in the loss to Northwood.

Further, if you require numbers to crunch for proof, check out this data: Hickman has allowed only eight singles, two doubles, no triples and no home runs for an ERA of 0.39 in 18 innings.

Lutzman has allowed 11 singles, two doubles, no trips or HRs, for an ERA of 4.90, in about 10 innings pitched. Ernsthausen has allowed five singles, and no doubles, triples, or homers, for an ERA of 2.63 in eight innings. For Dellinger, it’s five singles, three doubles, no trips or dingers for an ERA of 2.42 in about 83 innings.

Moving on down the line, Hayward has given up 10 singles, one double, no trips and no HRs for an ERA of 3.27 in 15 innings and for Arriaga it’s just two singles in six innings pitched. The ‘Bears’ collective ERA is a strong 2.24 and Hickman leads the team with 20 strikeouts with Hayward nipping at the senior’s heels with 18.

Meanwhile, Gibsonburg has outscored its collective opponents by a margin of 160-37.

The first five or so batters usually include senior first baseman Andrew Cantrell, senior catcher Sam Kohler, senior outfielder Jacob Auld, and the likes of Hickman and Hayward.

Consider those numbers: Cantrell (.455, 15-of-33, seven doubles, two triples, 18 runs); Sam Kohler (.452, 14-of-31, two doubles, two triples, 19 runs); Auld (.400, 10-of-25, three doubles, one triple, seven runs); Hickman (.258, 8-of-31, three doubles, five runs); Lutzman (.211, 4-of-19, one double, seven runs); and Cyrus Foos (.143, 2-of-14, one double, four runs). That’s just the core of senior leadership if some of those numbers aren’t jumping out at you.

Junior Dellinger leads the team with a hefty .467 average, while Cantrell has brought around the most RBIs, with 22. Kohler and Hayward are second and third respectively, with 16 and 15.

Defensively, again, Gibsonburg is an extremely stingy team on a good day. At catcher, the duo of Kohler (first Team All-TAAC in 2013) and Derek Angelone are formidable. First baseman Cantrell is a big, powerful player, but also quick and nimble, who will come off the bag to snare a slightly-errant throw, and still make the tag to complete the groundout. The senior earned first team All-TAAC honors in ’13.

Filling those gaping holes in the middle-infield are scrappy second baseman Cyrus Foos, a senior, and Jordan Kreglow at short. Over on the “hot corner,” Hickman plays the busy third base line when he’s not pitching, as well as fellow hurler Bryce Ernsthausen, and even big Sam Kohler on occasions.

Add any combination of Auld, Lutzman, Hayward, and Angelone platooning the outfield, and the gloves of Dellinger and Adam Neeb, and not too many baseballs are going to be put into legit play against G-Burg.

With about a month left to play, barring tough rematch dates with the Rangers (May 13) and Cards (May 19), a lot still remains to be seen.

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Gibsonburg senior Gabe Hickman. (Photo courtesy of Innovations Portrait Studio/InnovationsVisualImpact.com)

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Gibsonburg southpaw pitcher Andrew Dellinger. (Photo courtesy of Innovations Portrait Studio/InnovationsVisualImpact.com)

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Gibsonburg right-handed pitcher Brent Hayward. (Photo courtesy of Innovations Portrait Studio/InnovationsVisualImpact.com)

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