By Ryan Kaczmarski
The 2012 high school Northeast Ohio Baseball Coaches Association All-Star games were held at Progressive Field June 26 and the Westshore participants did not disappoint, as the 1954 Indians team – comprised of mostly Cuyahoga County players – defeated the 1995 Indians team – comprised of Lorain County players – 14-3, while out-hitting the 1995 Indians 18-3.
The All-Stars are among the best graduating seniors from high school programs throughout the Greater Cleveland area, and all the teams were named after memorable years in Cleveland Indians history.
The 1954 Indians’ roster included players from Bay, Westlake and Olmsted Falls high schools.
For Westlake High School, Ben Neumann made a significant contribution to the victory. Neumann pitched one inning, giving up 1 run on 1 hit while striking out three. He also went 2-for-2 at the plate with an RBI.
“This was a really cool experience, playing on a big-league field,” Neumann said. “You watch the pros do it everyday, and getting a chance to play here is awesome.
“It would be hard to go back to playing on a high school field after playing on so many professional fields,” he added, referring to Westlake’s run to the state championship game played at Huntington Park, home of the Indians’ AAA affiliate, the Columbus Clippers.
Neumann will attend The Ohio State University this fall and plans on trying out for the baseball team, in hopes of making the team as a walk-on.
Corey Bowers also represented the Demons in the game, going 0-for-1 with a walk, a stolen base and a run scored.
Jared Kurz, from Olmsted Falls High School, also pitched one inning, giving up a base on balls and striking out one. At the plate, he had a hit in two official plate appearances.
Although he has been playing the game for many years, Kurz noted the venue made this game different.
“This was a little different than playing on a high school field, you would get nice hops (here) and everything,” he said. “It’s a nice end to (my) high school career.”
Kurz will not be playing baseball in college while attending The Ohio State University. He plans on studying in the pre-med program.
Brennan Laird, a two-sport star for Olmsted Falls and baseball recruit for the University of Cincinnati, pitched the final inning, striking out one batter. At the plate he went 1-for-2 with an RBI.
He was just happy for the experience of playing in the game.
“It always means a lot when you get selected to an All-Star game,” he said. “It means a lot more, when you have a buddy on the team and you have (some of) the better coaches in the area (in Olmsted Falls head coach Dan Largent and two of his Bulldogs assistants on the All-Star coaching staff).”
Laird was the starting quarterback for the Bulldogs last season, but he just wants to concentrate on baseball and studying at college.
“Football is fun, (but) I felt like I had a better future playing baseball,” he said.
Representing the Bay Rockets in the game were Andrew Cooper and Rob Rising. Cooper was 2-for-3 at the dish, with a hit and an RBI, while scoring 2 runs. He also pitched one inning, giving up 2 runs on 1 hit and 3 walks, while striking out 1. Rising was 1-for-1 at bat, with a run scored.
Other All-Stars on the 1954 Indians team were from Brecksville, Brooklyn, Buckeye, Gilmour Academy, Holy Name, Independence, Midpark, North Royalton, Solon and Wadsworth high schools.