James Nosek | Press Box Perspectives Editor/Columnist
Baseball is the spring’s most precious commodity. But baseball can be considered a monopoly in its own sense. The MLB is the only baseball that matters during this time of year, or so they say. MLB fans flock to FSN, MLB Network and CSN to watch their team on the tube or head to the ball park to watch their team in person. But what about high school and college baseball? Well, that’s why it’s a monopoly. It’s sad because in the fall and winter, football and basketball are main stream sports, and we’re talking about all three levels: NFL, college and high school. That’s not the case with high school and college baseball. But in the truest sense, high school baseball is the most in the shadows. It’s unfortunate, but it’s the truth. You don’t see a Black Hole filled with the whole student body, but that doesn’t stop the varsity baseball team from doing their thing.
So, with that being said, here’s the Mason varsity baseball team’s season in a nut shell, because you probably haven’t been paying attention. (and if you have, here’s the run down anyway)
If you haven’t noticed, they’re pretty good
Mason is currently 11-3 on the season. And don’t forget about their GMC record, that’s pretty good as well: 9-0 in the GMC. Okay, the GMC isn’t really known for their baseball but two of the nine wins in the conference have been to top Ohio ball clubs. One win was against the defending state champions, Lakota East. They won that game 13-1 in a nice second game shellacking at the beautiful Prasco Park. Sure East is down from last year but to say you beat the defending champs by 12 runs, that is still worth something. The other big GMC win was against Lakota West. The Comets swept them in the opening Reds Future Showcase series. Some other nice wins were against Gallatin and Siegal in the Warrior Spring Classic.
They Have Three “Good” Losses
All three losses this year—Collierville, Mount Juliet and LaSalle—have all been within three runs. Actually the Collierville loss, which was at the Warrior Spring Classic, was the only one to be more than a run. Mason lost to Collierville 3-0. But Collierville is a powerhouse baseball team from Tennessee, so give Mason some credit. Since 2003 Collierville has had 30 players go to play in college and five players go play professionally—including second baseman for the Reds, Zach Cozart. Point is: they are a darn good program and the game against Mason was a pitcher’s dominated game. Collierville held Mason to only two hits.
BBCOR bats? Lately, the Comets have been killing it offensively
The last three games have been hitting clinics for Mason. They have scored 52 runs in the last three games, twice against Sycamore. Actually those games against the Aviators were more work-over sessions than baseball games. The first game of the series Mason won 29-7. 11 runs in the 2nd inning and 14 more runs in the 4th inning was all she wrote. Then in the second game of the series, Mason didn’t score 29 but they still got 10 runs in the 10-0 shutout. If those two games weren’t enough, they scored 13 runs against Princeton to top off the last three games. Mason currently rides a nice 9 game winning streak and if they keep hitting like this—that stat will continue to rise.
They have quite the pitching staff as well
Mason coaches Ken Gray and Curt Bly have prided their team around defense and pitching. This year, those claims are no different. The pitching staff has been exceptional this year, led by juniors TJ Zeuch and Andrew McDonald who both are 3-0 on the season and have a combined 47 strikeouts between them. They also have stellar ERA’s as well. Zeuch: 1.17 ERA and McDonald: 1.31 ERA. Another pitcher on the staff is Seth Bowles, he is 2-1 on the year and has a 1.33 ERA. One of the most prestigious accomplishments for a pitcher is to pitch a no hitter. TJ Zeuch has the privilege to compare himself to Nolan Ryan, Roy Halladay and Justin Verlander. Ok, maybe not that extreme, but Zeuch did pitch a no-hitter against Sycamore on April 11.
The juniors have stepped up
The Comets’ roster is dominated by strong upper classmen, specifically the junior class. They are stepping up in huge proportions and they have the offensive stats to back themselves up. Let’s look at them.
Drew Johnson: .421 AVG, 16 hits, 16 RBI’s
RJ Thompson: .412 AVG, 7 hits, 8 RBI’s
Connor McVey: .367 AVG, 18 hits, 10 RBI’s
Billy Highfill: .297 AVG, 11 hits, 9 RBI’s
And don’t forget about Zeuch and McDonald on the pitching side of things, they’re juniors as well.
The seniors have stepped up too
Although having younger players stepping up is good for a team, having the classic senior leadership is worth even more. Mason has the best of both worlds. Here are some senior stats.
Josh Galloway: .385 AVG, 15 hits, 15 RBI’s
Josh Orlando: .333 AVG, 9 hits, 6 RBI’s
Marcus Otte: .300 AVG, 12 hits, 4 RBI’s
Chris Grable: .258 AVG, 8 hits, 10 RBI’s
They have “Great Expectations”
Last year’s season was cut short in the sectional finals. They lost to Lakota West 6-4 and of course, they’re looking to avenge that lost. This year there is a lot of hype around this team. They are expecting to go far in the playoffs and they’ve already put those claims in print. In a season preview published in the March edition of the Mason High School Chronicle newspaper, a few boys of the varsity baseball team made some bold statements. Here are a few.
Junior Lee Sponseller
“We have been playing together since 5th grade,” Sponseller said. “The whole team has been talking about winning state since then and with what we have returning this year, we should be something special.”
Senior Marcus Otte
“We have the best talent as a whole that I have ever seen at Mason,” said Otte. “Now, we have to put it on the field and show the city and the state what we can do.”
“In the GMC and in Cincinnati you never hear ‘the experts’ talking about Mason,” said Otte. “They are always talking about [Lakota] East and West, as well as Moellor and Elder. Never Mason. This is our year to show Cincinnati what Mason baseball is all about.”
Here’s the full article written by Joe Spencer: http://thecspn.com/?p=5652
-Stats according to GMCSPORTS.com (as of 4/14/12)