Lutheran West junior pitcher Greg Kunze took the loss in last Wednesday's playoff game against Clearview, giving him a 4-4 record as a starter this year. (West Life photo by Stefanie Kilnapp)
By Stefanie Kilnapp
The Lutheran West baseball team’s successful season came to an abrupt ending last Wednesday, losing a tough sectional championship game to Clearview, 8-2.
“I knew they were going to come out and play good,” Longhorns head coach Trey Lamb said. “They’re not technically our rivals, but the kids, technically, don’t like each other that well. So you know they’re going to come out tough.”
The Longhorns’ season isn’t anything to shake a stick at. They won 10 games for the first time in four years; they had above a .500 record for the first time in three years; and Coach Lamb added, “It was the most competitive season we’ve had in a long, long time here, with one of the best nucleus of players we’ve seen in a long time.”
That could be an understatement with their first baseman hitting a .470 and the shortstop with about .420.
“I have three or four guys in the top 25 in Ohio for hitting, so it’s really hard to pick a most valuable player,” Lamb admitted. “We’re lucky we have two No. 1 pitchers. I don’t have an ace, and I have two kids I can throw anytime I want – it’s Greg Kunze and Aaron Geye – they’re the two I can just call on whenever I need.”
Their talent isn’t the only thing their coach appreciates them for. The players bring a lot to the team, including courtesy.
“One thing I really preach is respecting the game and the teams you’re playing against,” Lamb said. “We’ve had almost zero incidents, for the four years I’ve been head coach, with the umpires or other teams.
“The team kind of turned into its own coach, which makes my job a lot easier. It’s awesome when you have senior or junior leaderships and those are the moments I get really proud of. C.J. Griffin, he’s my shortstop, shortstops are the backbone of your team, and he took that role and went strong with it; it was very nice.”
Lutheran West had almost won the Patriot Athletic Conference, but a team glitch took it away from them.
“We were leading in the conference going into the start of last week and we lost three games in a row to lose it to three teams we had already beaten, but we ran into those teams and they were just playing really well and we went into a slump,” Lamb lamented.
Ending the season with a 14-8 record brought some proud moments in the season as well.
“We had one really good come-from-behind win. We were down by four, I believe, going into the fifth or sixth (inning) against Brookside, and we came back and won it,” Lamb recalled. “That was right in the middle of one of our hot streaks where we continued on.”
The whole season could be described as a (pleasant) surprise, as most fans didn’t know how talented and winning this team would be this season.
“Overall, like I said, we came from pretty much nowhere, so no one knew where we were going to be except our team, we actually believed,” Lamb said. “We ‘snuck up’ on people and surprised them.”
This team was closer than most. They came together more than willingly and followed on their own track, which was deemed victorious.
“Our players know to play your game, and hopefully it comes off the way that it should with a ‘W,’” Lamb concluded. “They’re very respectful players, and they teach me that, too, so it’s a well-rounded team.”