By Garth Shanklin
Clermont County’s knothole baseball season officially came to an end last week with the completion of two more tournaments.
In Class D Sr. silver division play in New Richmond, the Tealtown Squatches completed a comeback through the consolation bracket to win the title. The Squatches were dropped to the consolation bracket on July 10 by the Goshen Reds, but a victory over the Batavia Bulldogs set up a rematch on July 15. The Squatches won that contest, as well as the championship game on July 19 to clinch the title.
Head coach Christopher York was quick to mention the support the Squatches receive from everyone involved with the program.
“We have an awesome group of players, coaches, & parents,” York said. “I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
He added that the team took a bit of time to gel, but they figured things out in time to come home with the title.
“We really focused on getting better together this season, with everyone having chances to play different positions,” York said. “As a result I like to describe our season as a slow boil. Initially we were maybe lukewarm at best… but by the end we were hot. During the tournament we had a tough loss that required us to battle back from the losers bracket. The kids kept their chins up, had fun, and in the end the Tealtown Squatches went home with a much deserved first place trophy.”
The Class B Sr. gold division tournament came down to a pair of Clermont County squads. The Goshen Heat and CNE Rebels were two of the final three teams remaining. The Rebels eliminated the Mt. Orab Mambas in the consloation finals, but the Heat emerged victorious in the championship game in Mt. Orab on July 22.
Several other knothole teams clinched titles last week. The Amelia Defenders won their second straight county title by knocking off the New Richmond Red Legs 9-0. Michael Hibbs tossed a shutout, with some defensive help from Tristen Block, Kyle Schnitgen, Bryson Early and a few others.
“It was an outstanding team effort against a very good New Richmond baseball team,” head coach Bill Rap said. “These boys worked hard all season, and completely bought into the team-first mentality…I am very proud of the Defenders.”
Offensively, Amelia tallied 13 hits, two of which came off the bat of Will Rapp, who also scored two runs. Chase Ireland and Early tallied three hits each, with Michael Hibbs launching a home run.
Another Tealtown squad celebrated a title last week. The Tealtown Dragons knocked off the Milford Razorbacks in the D Sr. gold division final, earning the title. Head coach Jim Willison said the team learned more about themselves than how to field a ball or hit a pitch.
“As a head coach of a team of boys wanting to do well, I’d have to say to them, ‘You boys didn’t know how much you could learn from just playing knothole baseball, but the life lessons are way more important,’” Willison said. “Way to go undefeated al lyear in league play in the county tournament. Job well done also for your first trip to the city tournament, getting runner-up out of about 300 teams.”
The Goshen Bears also repeated as county champs. Head coach Darren Woodruff was quick to thank his assistant coaches, team mom and the team’s sponsors, A&D Specialty Service and Kiley’s Market, for their help this season.
“To really sum up the season is easy: hard work and dedication,” Woodruff said. “Last year they were a first year team and won the D Jr. sivler championship and this year to be back to back champions is awesome with everyone gunning for you. They also qualified for the first year knothole world series and finished second in that. The boys continue to grow as teammates and as brothers I can’t wait to see what the future holds for them. I am so lucky to part of this journey with them. I know as a coach are job is to teach them but they have taught me as well.”