Chaminade Julienne lives the dream with state championship victory

Chaminade Julienne celebrates after a victory against Wapakoneta in the Division II state championship on Saturday, June 2, 2018, at Huntington Park in Columbus. David Jablonski/Staff
Chaminade Julienne celebrates after a victory against Wapakoneta in the Division II state championship on Saturday, June 2, 2018, at Huntington Park in Columbus. David Jablonski/Staff

Eagles play second straight error-free game to beat Wapakoneta

Chaminade Julienne right fielder Joey Greene had the honor of recording the last out of the 2018 Ohio high school baseball season. When he caught a fly ball off the bat of Wapakoneta’s Jett Makar to end the Division II state championship game, the last of four finals Saturday at Huntington Park, the season ended with a dream fulfilled for the Eagles.

One year after losing 4-0 to Tallmadge on the same stage, Chaminade Julienne played like a champion — no errors, strong pitching and clutch hitting — and beat Wapakoneta 3-1.

Coach Mike Barhorst’s team brought the state championship trophy home to Dayton for the first time since 1970. The Eagles became the first Montgomery County high school to win two state baseball crowns.

“Several of the kids who were on the team last year showed up,” Barhorst said. “My son’s one of them. He was on that team. He told them, ‘Look, we’ve been here once. We can come back and do it again.’ We finished a little better this year.”

» SEMIFINAL COVERAGE: Defense, pitching carry CJ | Photos | Barhorst interview

The Eagles (24-5) couldn’t have scripted a better or more nerve-wracking finish. Neither team scored in the first five innings. Each team had two hits at that point.

Wapakoneta (24-2) broke through with a run in the bottom of the sixth. Don Goodes singled, stole second, advanced to third on a balk and then scored from third on a passed ball with two outs.

Then, in the top of the seventh, Chaminade Julienne rallied. Jack Huffman led off the inning with a walk. Pinch hitter Elliot Seelig walked with one out.

Andrew Simones followed with a groundball to short. What could have been a game-ending double play led to the Eagles scoring the tying run. A throwing error at second let Zach Scott, who pinch ran for Huffman, score.

After Wapakoneta intentionally walked Ryan Peltier, A.J. Solomon drew a walk, bringing Sebastian Gongora to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs. He had the walk-off single in the regional semifinals against Bishop Hartley and delivered again on the biggest stage. His single scored Peltier and Simones.

“I was really, really nervous,” Gongora said. “The only thing I was thinking was, ‘Try to get a fastball and try to hit it right back where it came from,’ so I hit it right back up the middle. He gave me a good pitch to hit.”

In the bottom of the seventh, the job fell to junior Nick Wissman to seal the victory. He gave up lead-off triple but then struck out two batters. After Greene caught the final out, Wissman threw his glove high in the air and jumped into the arms of catcher Ben Thomas. The rest of the Eagles then formed a dogpile on the infield.

No one deserved the moment more than Wissman, who struck out nine and pitched a complete game. He gave up four hits, walked only two batters and didn’t allow an earned run.

“Nick was just tremendous,” Barhorst said. “All three of the guys I threw this year, I could count on pitching a complete game almost every time out. Great stamina. He was in the 80s in pitches. He was very efficient, throwing strikes, getting ahead in the count. Off-speed was working really well.”

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Wissman was just as good, and maybe even better, than Tim Wabler, the senior who pitched Chaminade Julienne to a state championship victory against Garfield Heights in 1970. Wabler, who would go on to become athletic director at the University of Dayton, allowed one earned run on three hits and struck out five in seven innings in a 6-1 victory.

Wissman had plenty of help from his defense. The Eagles didn’t commit an error in a 2-1 victory against Tallmadge on Friday and played another error-free game Saturday.

“That’s our whole game plan going into any game,” Wissman said. “Throw strikes, play great defense. It’s what we did all season. We did it all last year. It’s what got us to this point last year. It’s how we got back this year.”

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