Fouty’s numbers, Wilker’s career speak for themselves

J. Patrick Eaken

When you have numbers like Lake senior pitcher Austin Fouty had, they speak for themselves.
        When you have a baseball team like Lake that goes 27-1 and led by a hall of fame coach, their success must be celebrated.
        So it is that Fouty is this year’s Alan Miller Jewelers All-Press Pitcher of the Year and his coach, Greg Wilker, the Coach of the Year.
        Pittsburgh Pirates draft Jase Bowen, a Central Catholic senior who resides in the Lake school district, is the Offensive Player of the Year.
        Within those boundaries of the Lake Local School District, which nearly match the Lake Township boundary, they are teaching youth to play some good baseball, no doubt.
        Fouty went 9-0 on the season and did not give up an earned run until the Flyers’ 8-1 victory over Fairview in the Division III district semifinal. That’s one earned run in 53 innings — good for an ERA of 0.132.
        “He was dominant in most of his outings with 82 Ks and only 15 walks in 53 innings pitched,” said Wilker. “Austin is a great competitor who worked extremely hard the last few years to have a tremendous senior season. He was voted the Most Valuable Player by his teammates this year.  He will play baseball at the next level and he has it down to a couple of choices.”
        Fouty got over 50 percent of the voting from 11 area coaches and three media members. Strangely enough, finishing tied for second was his senior teammate, Jacob Boelkens, who also went 9-0 with 72 strikeouts, 11 walks and 0.396 ERA.
        Tied for second with Boelkens was Clay senior pitcher Palmer Yenrick, who went 3-1 with 41 strikeouts, 13 walks, five saves and a 1.19 ERA in 41.1 innings, and Gibsonburg pitcher Fred Sisco, who was 7-1 with a 1.94 ERA in 53.1 innings. All four pitchers are among the All-Press first team choices.
        Sisco, who also batted .333 with 15 runs, five stolen bases, a .476 on base percentage and .455 slugging percentage, was the Most Outstanding Player of the Sandusky Bay Conference River Division even though only batted half the season due to an injury. He batted .476 as a junior and was an honorable mention All-Ohio outfielder and will pitch next year for Campbell University, an NCAA Division I school in the Big South Conference.
        Bowen garnered over 75 percent of the vote for what is basically the top hitter award. One of the others went to Lake senior second baseman Harry Jackson, who in 24 games batted .487 (39 for 80) with eight doubles, five triples and two home runs, plus he walked 13 times. A first team All-Press pick, Jackson was voted the Northern Buckeye Conference Offensive POY.
        Clay junior outfielder Andrew Collins and Woodmore senior center fielder Taityn Rollins also received All-Press Offensive POY. Both are first team All-Press selections. Rollins was Woodmore’s only returning senior player this season.
        The voting for Coach of the Year was unanimous, except for one vote — Wilker’s, who unselfishly voted for another coach. His Lake team has six All-Press first team selections, two second team choices, and one honorable mention selection. They are represented at nearly every position. The team got Wilker his 600th coaching victory this season.
        Wilker’s career record now stands at 621-345 and he is the 16th winningest baseball coach in Ohio High School Athletic Association history. Wilker, 57, was inducted into the Ohio Baseball Coach’s Hall of Fame in 2014.
Under Wilker, the Flyers have won 10 league/conference championships, 22 sectional titles, six district titles and one regional title. His 2001 team lost to Youngstown Ursuline, 6-1, in the Division III state semifinals.
Wilker taught business at Lake for 35 years before retiring last year, and he’s coached the offensive and defensive lines for the football team for more than 30 years.
Wilker’s varsity assistant is former Elmwood player Dory Boggs, who has been with the program since 2004, and former Lake players Mike Kohlhofer and Brandon Maze. Kohlhofer, who played on Lake’s 1985 team, and Maze have been on the staff for three years.
“The big thing about kids, as long as you show you care about them, kids are kids,” Wilker told The Press. “They know my entire staff cares about them, not just about wins and losses. They want them to become better young men.” (Press sportswriter Mark Griffin contributed to this article.)

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