When you’re the Division IV defending state baseball champions you tend to get every opponents’ best effort. Unfortunately for them, the Fort Loramie Redskins – just like last season – are no walkovers.
The Redskins, 14-0 heading into Thursday’s game with Fairlawn, have picked up where they left off from last season’s seven-game, season-ending winning streak that concluded with the program’s third high school baseball state championship, joining the 2010, and ’07 teams.
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“It’s pretty hard trying to defend it,” said Fort Loramie’s Shane Hilgefort, a .290 hitter who has driven in 13 runs. “But it’s fun. You know you have to play your best games. It’s fun because you grow as a team and want to become the next state champion. We want to go back to back.”
So far, so good.
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Fort Loramie has outscored opponents 146-19 and posted eight shutouts. They’re hitting .385 as a team and have a pitching staff ERA of 0.75.
“I guess we’re the team to beat right now,” said CJ Billing, who is hitting .375 and is 3-0 with a 0.94 ERA. “I definitely think we can be just as good, if not better. If we all play together we should be just fine. … We think about (going undefeated) a little bit. We don’t like to talk about it and jinx it. We know what we have to do every game.”
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Two of Fort Loramie’s biggest tests so far have come against Minster and New Bremen. Against Minster on April 6, Carter Mescher’s walk-off, inside-the-park homer lifted Fort Loramie to a 4-3 win in nine innings. Against New Bremen last week, Nathan Ratermann’s two-run, walk-off single in the seventh gave Loramie a 5-4 win. Ratermann leads the team with a .455 batting average.
A potential rematch with Minster could be on tap Saturday. The Redskins host the Fort Loramie Invitational with Elida, Indian Lake and Minster. Fort Loramie plays Indian Lake in the first game and Minster takes on Elida. The winners meet for the title at 5:30 p.m.
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“We don’t necessarily look at staying undefeated,” Fort Loramie coach Jeff Sanders said. “We look at executing and doing the right things offensively and defensively. And the result is a by-product of that. Let’s take care of business and the result will take care of itself. We don’t want to look at that big of a picture. Look at your responsibilities and what you can do to help the team and the rest will take care of itself.”
Ben Barhorst leads Loramie with a .545 batting average and 17 RBIs. He’s followed by Ratermann (.455), Mescher (.424) and Eli Rosengarten (.406). Seven Redskins have 11 or more RBIs – Barhorst and Billing (15), Mescher (14), Hilgefort (13), Devin Wehrman (12), Jared Middendorf (11) and Ratermann (11).
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Middendorf leads Fort Loramie pitchers at 4-0 with an ERA of 0.00. Also among those tossing solid innings are Billing (3-0, 0.94), Ratermann (3-0, 2.11) and Griffin Meyer (2-0, 0.00).
Fort Loramie leads the Shelby County Athletic League at 6-0 and entered the week with a one game-lead over Anna. That Rockets loss came 23-0 to the Redskins on April 11. Last weekend Fort Loramie knocked off Midwest Athletic Conference power Versailles 7-2 and handed Troy Christian a 6-2 loss, the Eagles’ first loss.
“We kind of feel the pressure sometimes,” Hilgefort said. “But we kind of play scrappy and fight back.”