Chaminade Julienne’s Andrew Simones, right, and Ryan Peltier celebrate after scoring the go-ahead runs in the seventh inning against Wapakoneta in the Division II state championship on Saturday, June 2, 2018, at Huntington Park in Columbus. David Jablonski/Staff

CJ gearing up for another state title baseball run

CJ is the defending Division II state champion. That bettered its 2017 season when the Eagles placed runner-up in the state.

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With many key contributing players returning, CJ appears primed to make another state final four run. At this point, getting every opponent’s best shot is a badge of honor for the Eagles.

“This year we expect it,” said leadoff hitter and senior Andrew Simones. “It’s good for their playoff resume to say we beat the D-II state champs from last year. Were used to that. We embrace it because we know come playoff time we’ll be used to it. We’re used to seeing everyone’s best.”

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CJ (16-2) has lost only to Troy and Greater Catholic League Co-Ed Central rival Badin by identical 5-4 margins. The Eagles (8-1) already have secured their third straight GCL North title and extended their win streak to 12 with a 4-0 blanking of Cross County Conference contender Tri-County North at Howell All-Star Field on Friday.

Chaminade Julienne pitcher Nick Wissman, left, and first baseman David Ernst throw their gloves in the air after a victory against Wapakoneta in the Division II state championship on Saturday, June 2, 2018, at Huntington Park in Columbus. David Jablonski/Staff

CJ likely will be a No. 1 seed following Sunday’s baseball coaches’ meetings for the upcoming sectional.

Simones leads CJ in hitting (.433), hits (26) and doubles (7). His 25 stolen bases last season set an all-time Eagles record.

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It’s pitching that separates CJ from the rest. Senior Nick Wissman (6-0, 0.76 ERA, 51 strikeouts in 37 innings) inherited the No. 1 role from the graduated Ryan Peltier, who’s now playing at Ball State University. Wissman was the complete-game winner in a 3-0 blanking of Wapakoneta in the D-II state championship last season at Huntington Park in Columbus. He’ll take his game to Dayton next season.

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

Sebastian Gongora (5-0, 1.70 ERA, 52 strikeouts in 33 innings) won district and regional games last season. A junior, he bumps up to the No. 2 spot and has drawn recruiting interest from Wright State and UD.

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“We knew we had a really good core coming back,” said veteran CJ coach Mike Barhorst. “Starting-wise, we’ve only been losing a few pieces each year. It’s spaced itself out. We knew we had some good arms coming back. Our defense is still playing really well. We’re still struggling sometimes to score runs when we need to, but we seem to find a way.”

CJ is lumped with Franklin (19-5) and Valley View (13-6) of the Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern Division in the D-II Dayton sectional. Badin (19-2) and Troy (15-4) are in the D-I postseason.

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CJ’s 2018 baseball state title was its second. Chaminade won the big-school Class AA state championship in 1970.

Chaminade Julienne’s Nick Wissman pitches against Wapakoneta in the Division II state championship on Saturday, June 2, 2018, at Huntington Park in Columbus. David Jablonski/Staff

“It’s special,” Simones said. “They’ve had some good runs and it’s amazing to be a part of something like that. I’ve grown up playing with most of these guys my entire life. It’s fun. It’s a culmination of a lot of our hard work coming to fruition.”

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• Butler (17-4) takes an eight-game win streak into two games against Troy on Monday and Tuesday to decide the Greater Western Ohio Conference American North title. The Aviators are 12-0 and the Trojans 9-3 in conference play. Fairborn (11-10, 10-3) has clinched a GWOC American South title after last week’s sweep of runner-up Xenia (18-6, 8-5).

Centerville (17-5, 11-0) recently swept Beavercreek (16-4, 9-2) to clinch an outright GWOC National East title. Centerville is scheduled to host D-I state power Moeller on Tuesday. Springboro (16-4, 7-2) split with runner-up Lebanon (12-7, 6-4) to clinch an outright GWOC National South title last week.

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• Seed meetings in all four baseball divisions will be held on Sunday throughout the area. The postseason begins Saturday, May 11.

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