Ready or not: Port Clinton Legion team ready for districts
Aug 27, 2014 at 2:36 PM
Disregarded a little? Sure.
Though 2013 St. Mary Central Catholic graduate Ryan Myers has made it clear he's had no qualms with driving 30 minutes to Fremont to play for the Port Clinton American Legion Post 113 baseball team this summer, he admits he still felt a little overlooked by his hometown Sandusky Post 83.
But it's all good. With rosters limited to 18 players, you can't please everybody.
Still, he and some of his teammates that also hail from the Sandusky area have shared a few grins over the fact that their Post 113 team has had a little more success than their rivals from Post 83, a team they beat 3-2 in their lone meeting on June 10 in Fremont.
“Definitely,” Myers said. “A lot of us feel like we were overlooked by (Sandusky), especially the ones that live closer to that area. But we have no bad feelings towards those guys. We've just generated a little bit of a rivalry with (Post 83) since we're so close and have played against those kids for years.”
Port Clinton (19-8), which features 11 other area players, will visit Ottawa Post 63 at 6 p.m. Wednesday to kickstart its District 1 tournament slate.
Post 113 is one of eight teams in its district, which also includes teams based out of Toledo, Maumee, Ottawa, Pemberville, Findlay, Whitehouse and Napoleon.
“I can't wait for us to go into the tournament where we can start going against the others guys in our district,” Post 113 coach Robert George said. “I think we're more than capable of going far. The most important thing, though, is winning that first game.
“This is a very tough district,” George added. “Teams like Findlay, Napoleon and Whitehouse play close to 50 games a year. In order to compete, you have to have lots of experience. The games we've lost this summer have seen us make little mistakes that I think our guys are going to correct and learn from.”
Myers didn't play baseball this past spring, but was known to throw the ball around from time to time on the BGSU campus with Port Clinton teammate Zach Yeckley, a Fremont St. Joseph Central Catholic product.
Recent Sandusky graduate Michael Delk did play, earning first-team All-Ohio honors in Division II this past spring. Delk is an outfielder/pitcher for Post 113 that features locals: A.J. Cecil (Oak Harbor 2013/University of Findlay); Austin Spicer (Margaretta); Blake Miller (Clyde); Brett Combs (Clyde); Chris Stokes (Port Clinton); Clayton Farrar (Clyde); Colin Gregory (Clyde); Michael Finch (Norwalk 2013/Owens Community College); Nick Raifsnider (Bellevue 2013/Tiffin University); and Zak Floro (Port Clinton).
“A lot of SBC guys are with us, and it's kind of cool to be able to play with them,” Spicer said. “Even though we're from a lot of different places, we all get along really well and have a lot of team chemistry where we can joke with each other and stuff.”
The Post 113 squad also features non-locals Tanner Albert (Fremont Ross), Josh Cowell (Woodmore), Nate Hoyda (Tiffin Columbian), Tiger Jaso (Lakota 2013/Owens Community College) Evelier Jimenez (Dominican Republic), Marcus Kerr (SJCC), Bennett Weickert (SJCC) and Jake Yeckley (SJCC).
“Tournament-wise, we haven't done as well as we would've wanted to,” Spicer said. “But the only one that really matters is the one at the end of the year, which I think we're definitely ready to play.”
Weickert and Cowell have been the two workhorses for Port Clinton on the mound when it comes to innings. Weickert sports a team-best 1.30 earned run average in 24 innings pitched.
“(Weickert's) only issue has been he's walked 11 guys,” George said, who serves as the SJCC varsity baseball coach in the spring. “He's just not afraid to pitch inside, so he'll hit someone from time to time. It's not that he's wild or anything, it's just sometimes that two-seam fastball of his tails in.”
Aaron Sostaric, a southpaw from Tiffin Columbian, is a pitcher George hopes to work into the rotation during the postseason.
“He's got a lot of potential, but just hasn't been able to pitch for us that much this summer,” George said.
Spicer has also given Port Clinton solid innings, as has Yeckley.
“We were hoping to use Ryan (Myers) more, but because of his summer school, he's missed a lot,” George said. “Then Raifsnider has been really, really good in relief. You can count on him shutting people down.”
Raifsnider's bat ain't bad either. The Tiffin University sophomore has been regularly leading Post 113 at the dish from the leadoff spot, but likes to flash some power as well.
“I'm glad to see that he's getting to be hot with the bat just as we're getting into the district tournament,” George said. “He's been crushing the ball the past four to five games.”
Farrar, another big bat in the lineup, had four hits, two home runs and seven RBIs in a 17-12 victory over Whitehouse Post 384 on June 11.
Farrar's high school teammate, Combs, stars in the small-ball game, routinely dropping bunts for hits.
Spicer had three hits Thursday in a 5-4 win at Massillon.
“Coach (George) has done a great job of finding guys from all over the place that have a lot of talent,” Spicer said. “It's impressive that we can get a group like this together in this area.”
What may be even more impressive is that George had turn kids away, despite charging $250 to play.
“Right now, I have to do a little bit of everything here to raise funds because we don't have much financial backing,” George said. “I don't like having to charge kids to play but unfortunately there's costs involved in playing nine-inning games and going to tournaments.”
For some kids, though, the money is money well spent.
Myers' work and summer school commitments made finding time for baseball a little tough for the Bowling Green State University sophomore this summer. He was also put on an emotional roller coaster in recent weeks as his grandmother suffered a heart attack and had to be life-flighted to Toledo.
Through it all, his loyalty to Post 113 was never questioned. Nor was he given grief from teammates or coaches for missing so much time. Time he knows is precious being this is his lost opportunity to step on the diamond.
“It may be a long drive to Fremont, but I wouldn't trade playing with these guys for anything,” Myers said. “They're great. I can't explain how much I appreciate their support on and off the field.”