Thursday, December 18, 2014

Pitching, defense spur Eagles to title

By GREG MAST, Herald Sports Editor | 6/2/2014

TOPEKA — Wellsville High School junior Jared Klamm pitched in two pressure-packed games in his career.

The first was last year’s regional championship game.

TOPEKA — Wellsville High School junior Jared Klamm pitched in two pressure-packed games in his career.

The first was last year’s regional championship game.

The second was Friday’s 3A State Tournament championship game against Rock Creek in Topeka.

It was just his fourth mound appearance of the season. He was nearly flawless, tossing a three-hitter in Wellsville’s 2-1 victory. It was Wellsville’s first baseball state title.

“It is amazing,” Klamm said. “I have been playing with these guys all my life. To be out here to win a state championship, it was awesome.”

Rock Creek put a scare into Klamm and the Wellsville faithful in the seventh inning. The Mustangs scored a run and had the tying run at third base with two outs.

“I was pretty nervous,” Klamm said. “I was shaking out there.”

Klamm induced a pop fly to shortstop Tony Dougan for the final out.

“We played our hearts out,” Wellsville coach Casey Quinlan said. “We stress pitching in our program and it showed. Plus our defense was second to none. Our kids deserve to be No. 1.

“Jared has not pitched for two weeks. Jared came through for us before. He won the [regional] for us last year. He came out with nerves of steel. He played a special game.”

Senior Shamus Kearney, playing in his fourth state tournament, could not describe how good it felt to be a champion at last.

“Ever since you were a little kid, you dream playing in the state championship game,” he said. “Winning it, it is surreal. The adversity throughout our careers has helped us succeed. It helped us fuel the fire. No better way to end my senior year.”

Pitching and defense carried the Eagles to the title. Wellsville won three one-run games, including a 2-1 semifinal victory over Silver Lake. All three games, the opponent had the tying run at third base when the game ended.

“We stress pitching and defense,” Quinlan said. “Our pitching and defense came through.”

Senior Luke Meyer tossed a four-hitter in the win over Silver Lake.

“You could not have asked for better pitching throughout the tournament,” he said. “Three starters go out and pitch their hearts out. Five runs total for three starters. It was a stellar job.”

Kearney, who was the winning pitcher in the state opener against Bluestem, said pitching was the name of the game.

“When you have pitching like that, it is hard to lose in the state tournament,” he said. “[Jared] stepped up big time on the biggest stage possible. He pitched the best game I have seen him pitch. He was phenomenal. He beared down. Our defense beared down. We got it done.”

Meyer said the sting of losing in the state title game two years ago did fuel the Eagles.

“Two years ago, we were on the losing end of this,” he said. “It hurt watching Frontenac celebrate. It stuck in our minds for two years. It was not easy. We never quit.

“Wellsville is great community. They support us in everything. It is awesome to have them show up and support us. We performed for them.”

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