Chaminade Julienne junior pitcher Ryan Peltier threw his glove at least 30 feet in the air after recording the final out. Soon gloves rained in the infield at Mason High School as teammates celebrated with glove tosses of their own.
The Eagles rejoiced in a moment 42 years in the making. They beat Columbus DeSales 4-3 in a Division II regional championship to earn their first state berth since 1975.
“We’ve been talking about it all year,” senior center fielder Garrett Wissman said. “At the beginning of the year, we knew we had the team. We knew we had the talent. To see it all pay off, it means a lot.”
Wissman hit a two-run home run in the first inning to give the Eagles (22-4) a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
“I think it kind of set the tone,” Wissman said. “I was just trying to find a fastball, and I got one. I was quick enough to get my hands around. It went out.”
PHOTOS: CJ beats DeSales
Wissman added an RBI double in the sixth inning. That proved to be the game-winning hit because DeSales (18-12) cut CJ’s lead to 4-3 in the top of the seventh and had the tying run on first when Peltier got a pop up to short center field to end the game.
“It was huge,” CJ coach Mike Barhorst said. “You never feel confident with a one- or two- or even a three-run lead. You just never know. Anything can happen in high school level. Any run you can tack on you’re always glad to have.”
This is Barhorst’s 18th year in the program and eighth as head coach. He knows all about the history of the program. The Eagles played in the state tournament in 1964, won it in 1970 and returned to state in 1975. They reached the Division III regional final in 2014 and lost 6-0 to Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy.
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Now the Eagles will play Athens or Steubenville at 4 p.m. Thursday in the state semifinals at Huntington Park in Columbus. Athens and Steubenville play at 5 p.m. Sunday in their regional final, which was postponed Saturday.
“This is a dream come true,” Barhorst said. “We talked to ourselves a few years ago when we made it to regionals. We were kind of a dark horse that came out of nowhere that year and got hot. This year before the season started, we had a long talk with some of those guys that are seniors now that were freshmen on that team. That year we were kind of a nobody. This year, there were more expectations to actually make it over that hump and get to state. They’ve just been tremendous all season. Great pitching and timely hitting.”