BATAVIA — Some of the players on Greeneview’s baseball team have heard stories and memories about the last district champion squad from the school.
Jarrod Mays said his parents were both upperclassman at Greeneview in 1994, the last time the school claimed a baseball title.
“I know a lot of the people that played on that team,” he said. “They’re all my dad’s friends.”
Mays and his teammates no longer need to hear what that feeling was like from others. They now know directly what it was like with this year’s team earning the same distinction.
Greeneview came back from a two-run deficit in the late innings and claimed its fifth district championship with a 4-3 win against Madeira on Wednesday in the Division III district title game at the Midland Baseball Complex.
“It’s cool to be part of history now and we actually have something to show for it rather than just word of mouth,” Mays said, as he began holding up his district medal from around his neck. “We have done something that’s gonna go in the high school history books.”
The 2023 Rams join the 1981, ‘83, ‘93 and ‘94 squads as district champions.
Head coach John-Marc Brooks, who after previous tournament wins had spoken about his players not wanting to settle for the milestones already accomplished, said he has enjoyed getting to be part of the story his players are crafting about themselves.
“Our motto from the very beginning was to build a house,” he said. “More so than anything else, just being able to do something now that can be built upon for years to come.”
Greeneview improved to 25-4 this season with Wednesday’s win. The OHC champions haven’t had it easy in tournament play as they have pulled out some stressful wins.
The opener against Northwestern was a three-run victory, but only after leading by six early on and seeing their opponent get the tying run to the plate in its final at-bat. Monday’s win over Preble Shawnee had the Rams score the only run in the game in the first inning and had to hold on late with the tying run 90 feet from home.
Wednesday was the first time they’ve trailed during a game in the tournament, but that only helped ignite a fire in the Greeneview players to not let their season end with history on the line.
“The energy we got was crazy,” Mays said. “When we finally get our energy going in the dugout, it feels there’s no stopping us. We get that going and we have a few things click, we just keep going and run with it.”
Ben Myers got the scoring started in the bottom of the first inning after Hunter Brooks drew a one out walk and stole second. Myers hit a line drive over the leaping shortstop toward centerfield, and the ball was bobbled as it was played to allow Brooks to round third and easily come home safely.
Landon Gardner started and didn’t allow a hit in the first three innings with the only runner reaching via an error to lead off the second.
Madeira in the fourth got its offense started though with a walk and double to the right field corner. A ground ball hit toward third deflected off of Tyler Thornton’s glove and a throw home sailed wide of the plate to the back stop to tie the score and allow both runners to advance.
The Mustangs took advantage of the bad throw with a line drive single down the left field line to score two more and give them their first lead.
Keeping the score close, Kaden Knisley helped his pitcher in the fifth by racing for a pop fly from shortstop and making a diving, over the shoulder catch as he ran toward the left field line. After allowing another single, Gardner got out of the jam with a shallow fly hit to left.
“We knew this team didn’t strike out a ton and they did find some barrels,” John-Marc Brooks said. “For the most part, [Landon] pitched it where the guys could play it. … They had a couple guys put it in play and barreled it well, but he was resilient.”
Greeneview got back rolling in its half of the fifth as Keegan Phillips lead the inning off with a single. He stole second and moved to third on a passed ball, with Myers drawing a walk two batters later and also stealing second.
It set up Mays to bring his team’s energy all the way back up, as he hit a hard bouncer into left field which evened the score at three.
“I was hoping to hit the ball far because they were playing shallow and get it over their heads,” Mays said. “Ended up getting a little chopper but since they were playing in I ended up getting it over them and the left fielder missed. Worked well for me.”
After Gardner sacrificed Mays to third, the first pitch to Trevor Moore flew wide of the catcher and Mays scored uncontested to take the 4-3 lead.
“I had just said for him to make sure to get a step and be ready to go,” John-Marc Brooks said. “And then the very next pitch that happened. Kind of one of those deals maybe the baseball Gods tell you something and you get lucky.”
Hunter Brooks came in for the two inning save and had to work to get out of the sixth. Madeira got a runner to third and failed to put down a suicide squeeze attempt before Brooks got two straight punch outs to come out unscathed.
Facing the same spot in the order which the Mustangs produced their three runs, he was motivated to finish off the win.
“He struck out right before he came out, and that made him mad,” John-Marc Brooks said. “As he was coming by, I was like ‘let’s go’ and and he just put his hand out and said they’re gonna feel like I just did.”
After Phillips gloved the first two outs, Grant Gallagher cut in front of Knisley on a soft bloop near second base to get his teammates celebrating.
“It always feels like it’s not a matter of if, it’s just a matter of when with these guys,” John-March Brooks said. “We’re winning baseball games by doing just enough right now. They’re just grinders and you get them against the wall and I feel like they get better when the pressure gets higher. It’s fun to watch.”
Greeneview will play Cincinnati Country Day in the Region 12 semifinals at 2 p.m. on June 1. The regional semifinals and final will both be at Wright State’s Nischwitz Stadium.
Jarrod Mays ties the game on a full count with this base hit to left. 3-3 in the fifth. pic.twitter.com/JI6mQcCYwy
— Steven Wright (@Steven_Wright_) May 24, 2023
FINAL: @greeneviewsport 4, Madeira 3.
The Rams win in the D-III district title game, the school’s first since 1994. They will play in the regional semifinals at 2pm on June 1 at Wright State. pic.twitter.com/oZlU9Fjq6d
— Steven Wright (@Steven_Wright_) May 24, 2023
Contact Steven Wright at 937-502-4498 and follow on Twitter @Steven_Wright_.