Photo credits Erica Gould and John Diepenbrock
On Friday afternoon, the baseball team dominated the Aragon Dons and showed off their senior class to win their last home league game of the season. The Bears had just come off from clinching the Peninsula Bay League Championship – their first since 1964.
Prior to the game, there was a ceremony with the seniors and their families, and all of the active seniors got an opportunity to play in the game.
Junior catcher Trevor Heinz said, “The seniors bring so much energy to every single game and practice, you see it here, no other team in the league has the type of energy that we have in the dugout, because of the way the seniors carry themselves and bring leadership to our dugout and to the team.”
Senior George Zaharias started at pitcher for the Bears, immediately electrifying the big home crowd as he struck out the side in the first inning.
In the second inning, the Dons moved ahead, playing some small ball after Zaharias issued a walk, a bunt moved the runner over, and a single brought him home.
The Bears weren’t down for long however, exploding for five runs in the second inning. Senior outfielder Eamon Smith-Johnson got on base with a walk to lead the rally off. After Zaharias walked, junior third baseman Shaun Pagee brought the Bears even with a single that scored Smith-Johnson. Then, a single from senior outfielder Davis Phillips brought in another run, bringing the Bears ahead.
After a slew of errors by the Dons and a single from first baseman Rowan Kelly, the Bears were up 5-1 after the second inning.
Zaharias went three more strong innings, surrendering only one hit, one walk, and one run with nine strikeouts in five innings of work.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, the Bears were able to tack on an insurance run off the bat of junior outfielder Adam Chane. Chane hit a home run to right field, marking his first of the season, and the home crowd erupted.
On the at-bat, Chane said, “I was 0-2 at that point. I thought I put some pretty good swings on the ball, was seeing him well, and saw about ten pitches by then. He went slider, slider, change-up, and he’d only been throwing me that fastball in. I thought he was gonna try to run a fastball by me and jam me, but I did my homework and I was cheating on the fastball. Luckily, I just put a good swing on the ball, and it went out.”
In the top of the sixth inning, senior pitcher Henry Bei came in to hold the lead for the Bears. To start off the inning, Bei immediately fielded a ground ball to himself. He then induced a fly ball to second base, to which freshman second baseman Ryder Kelly made a dazzling play to catch. Bei struck out the last batter in a very clean and efficient inning.
Bei said, “This means the world. It was great to get out there today. I was in the bullpen, stuff was feeling good, the curve was breaking well. I just went out there and I thought, ‘I’ll just throw what’s working.’ That’s what I did, and it felt great.”
In the last of the sixth, another senior, infielder Jamie Lemberger, got an opportunity to contribute when he came in to pinch hit. Lemberger was able to rope a single into right center field, much the appreciation of the M-A team.
Lemberger said, “It was a long road back, it’s been a lot of time just practicing with the team and making sure my craft was still honed. Coach kept me on the edge of my seat the entire game, and once he put me in I was able to deliver a nice base hit, and I’m grateful that that was the outcome.”
Senior Ben Peterson came in to pitch the seventh inning, walking one hitter and giving up a double but inducing two flyouts and striking one batter out to end the game.
The Bears face their first CCS matchup next Saturday following their successful league season. As for their CCS hopes, Coach Jordan Paroubeck said, “Whether it’s a good team, a bad team, a really good pitcher or bad pitcher, it’s always one pitch at a time. Obviously, in the whole week leading up to CCS we will be getting after it, but one pitch at a time.”