Photo of CHS varsity baseball team by Michael Melinger.
This was the score when the CHS baseball team faced off against the MICDS Rams, last year’s state champions, on April 15. The game ended via the ten-run mercy rule.
But, this time, on May 17, the Greyhounds looked to avenge their past and achieve a different outcome: not a ten-run loss, but rather a district championship.
April 15’s loss still lingered in the back of their minds; yet, with a district championship on the line, the game plan stood strong.
“[My advice for the team was] ‘one pitch, one play, one inning at a time, compete in seven innings today, have a short memory, and stay in the moment,’” CHS baseball head coach Craig Sucher said.
The Hounds took an early lead, going up 1-0 off a hit by senior third baseman Bryant Thompson in the top of the first inning.
Tasked with keeping the lead intact for the Hounds was senior pitcher Max Weilmuenster, who pitched on April 15 and knew the Rams’ offensive capabilities all too well.
Nonetheless, Weilmuenster remained scoreless after the first two innings of play. The Hounds tacked on an insurance run in the top of the third off the bat of senior Max Hunter, who played centerfield in the game.
But the Rams’ bats would not remain quiet for much longer. With two outs in the bottom of the third inning, MICDS had the bases loaded and a chance to tie or take the lead. MICDS senior Luke Layton scorched a bases-clearing double to deep right field to erase the two-run deficit and to take a one-run lead into the fourth inning.
The Hounds knew this was a defining moment in the game and were determined to erase the Rams’ lead.
“We could’ve easily given up when they took the lead with a three-run double, but we stuck to our plan and fought back,” Thompson said.
They fought back. Senior Drew Phelan scored on a Hunter ground-ball to tie the game 3-3.
Yet the Hounds did not turn complacent after tying the game.
3-3 remained the score going into the final inning. With one out in the top of the seventh, Phelan ripped a single into right field and represented the go-ahead run on first base. Phelan would advance into scoring position off freshman Will Laako’s sacrifice hit. The MICDS coaching staff elected to intentionally walk Thompson, leaving runners on first and second base with Hunter in the batter’s box with two outs.
Hunter hit the ball slowly up the middle of the infield. Thompson slid into second base safely, while Phelan simultaneously advanced from second to third, and from third to home. 4-3, Greyhounds. Weilmuenster came to bat with two runners on base. Weilmuenster hit a bases-clearing double to the outfield to make it 6-3 in favor of the blue-and-orange.
Even with a three-run lead, the Hounds remained level-headed and continued to adhere to the original game plan.
“I was ecstatic, but I wanted to make sure we held them in the final inning before I got too excited,” Thompson said.
Sucher called upon his son, freshman Ty Sucher, to close the game and to cap off a strong pitching performance by Weilmuenster. The freshman pitcher got two quick fly-outs. Weilmuenster, playing left-field, dove for a well-hit ball, making the catch to capture the third out and the district title.
The Hounds now have their sights on sectionals, where they will face another perennial baseball powerhouse in Westminster and have the chance at clinching a bid to the state tournament.
Defeating MICDS to win the district championship gives the Hounds a boost of confidence as they look to keep their season alive.
“It felt good knowing that after struggling all season we were able to find success when it counted most,” CHS junior right fielder Jimmie Adams said. “We hope we can ride the wave of momentum all the way to the end.”
For Sucher, the victory represents more than just a first-place trophy and the celebratory ice bath that followed. It is proof of the resiliency and grit of his players.
“I started crying. I admired the effort and performance of our players so much,” he said. “It was awesome. We had [the] opportunity to cave in the moment, we have before, and instead of letting that define us, we did the harder thing to persevere.”
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