Baseball is home to some crazy records, and some of our own local high school teams have historically set the wildest.
For instance, in his history of Ohio high school baseball, Timothy L. Hudak of Sports Heritage Specialty Publications in Cleveland notes, “It is hard to see how Dean Sandwich did not make the all-time batting average list when you read about his remarkable accomplishment.”
Playing for Woodmore in 1983 and 1984, Sandwisch set a national record when he hit safely in 30 consecutive at bats.
Or, how about Clay? Clay is still in the top 10 on the national list of wins, according to Hudak. As of 2009, Clay was 1,142-546-1 dating back to 1928.
Just a few years earlier, Cincinnati Elder, with 1,258 victories, was the winningest baseball high school in the nation. Number four on the national list was the Big Red of Steubenville, with 1,121 wins, followed by No. 5 Clay (1,081 victories), and No. 6 Coldwater and its 1,061 triumphs.
“Throwing even more cold water (no pun intended) on the warm weather theory, the number three and seven schools are both from New Jersey. Only the second ranked school, Tucson (Az.) High School, comes from one of the warm weather areas,” claims Hudak.
|Gibsonburg hitter Brent Hayward slides into home as his team celebrates his inside-the-park home run.
(Photo by Jeff Holcomb)
The area dots the statewide record book even further. However, Gibsonburg’s season of 2005 still tops them all — still Ohio’s only team to win a state baseball championship with a losing record. They even made a movie about it.
Gibsonburg finished 14-17 after defeating 22-8 Jackson Center in the Division IV state semifinal and then the Golden Bears defeated 26-7 Lancaster Fisher Catholic 6-5 in the final at Columbus’ Cooper Stadium.
So Gibsonburg won a state title in 2005, appeared at the state final four in 1989, but this year won the program’s first league championship since 1980. That’s right — it’s been 35 years since the Golden Bears won a league title — taking the Suburban Lakes League championship the year Ronald Reagan was first elected to the presidency.
This year, the Golden Bears, courtesy of an Ottawa Hills 5-4 make-up win over co-champion Toledo Christian, got its first league championship since 1980, albeit they will have to share the title with the Eagles, which were league champs last year, too.
When Coach Kyle Rase led the Golden Bears to that state title in 2005, he credited the larger schools of the SLL for preparing his team well for the tournament. He knows what it takes, because as a player at Convoy Crestview, his Knights went to state in 1993. Crestview’s program has made three trips to state, while there are still multiple programs that have never made the trip in school history.
Despite Gibsonburg’s years against the larger schools of the SLL being over, Rase warns that the Toledo Area Athletic Conference is no slouch in baseball, and the league proved it this season.
“Its two different leagues, two different make-ups of schools,” said Rase, who just finished his 12th season (166-125) at the helm. “The NBC (with six former SLL members) is a very strong baseball league. But we had four teams from the TAAC in the district semifinals, so we had to beat each other out to try and get to the regionals.
“Ottawa Hills was a lot better at the end of the year because they play such a tough non-league schedule. Toledo Christian won the league last year and went to regionals and they repeated this year, so they had a bunch of guys back and they were pretty good.”
Four TAAC teams won sectional championships, defeating teams from two other leagues, so that TAAC members Gibsonburg, Toledo Christian, Danbury, and Ottawa Hills were squaring off in the district for a regional berth. The Golden Bears lost in the semis to the Eagles, 4-3, and Toledo Christian advanced to the regional tournament for the second straight season.
Gibsonburg finished 21-8 overall and 11-3 in the league after starting 6-5. Rase thanks the leadership of his five seniors for turning the season into a productive one.
“We had a deep pitching staff, and hitting wise we had a different person step up in different games,” Rase said.
Senior Jordan Kreglow, who has signed to play basketball next year at Trine University, is a first team All-TAAC shortstop and Derek Angelone is a first team All-TAAC catcher. Both were second team picks as juniors when the Bears finished 23-5, including 8-4 in the TAAC, coming up just short of a league title.
Kreglow and Angelone were two of five players to bat over .300, with Kreglow finishing at .301 (28 for 93) with 33 runs, 19 RBIs and 16 stolen bases. Angelone batted .296 (26 for 88) with 18 RBIs and three SB.
Outfielder Bryce Ernsthausen is a second team All-TAAC performer after batting .312 (24 for 77) with 18 runs, 13 RBIs and four SB.
Getting honorable mention is pitcher Preston Arriaga, who was 5-1 in 35.1 innings, giving up 25 hits, 11 earned runs and striking out 45.
Other pitchers putting up good numbers were Ernsthausen (45 IP, 35 H, 21 R, 16 ER, 59 K, 5-2 W-L, 2.49 ERA) and Ryan Clark (50.1 IP, 59 H, 29 R, 21 ER, 48 K, 6-3, 2.92).
Others hitting over .300 included Madison Jaso (.346 on 18 for 52, 11 R, 15 RBI, 1 SB), Clark (.318 on 28 for 88, 31 R, 21 RBI, 14 SB) and Andrew Dollinger (.318 on 27 for 85, 16 R, 16 RBI, 7 SB).