By CHUCK RIDENOUR
Daily Globe Sports Editor
April 12th was a turning moment for Shelby.
Though at the time, the direction the Whippets would take was unknown.
That day the red and gray were blanked 4-0 by Bellevue as their batting average dipped to an anemic .168.
Tuesday the SHS diamondmen capped that turnaround with an outright Northern Ohio League baseball crown by beating arch rival Willard 7-3.
“We were sitting at 2-3 and weren’t really hitting the ball well,” looked back coach Jon Amicone. “That could have gone two ways. You can go down the drain, or just put in the work. Our kids put in the work and they were able to rattle off 10 straight wins at one point and get us back in it.”
Shelby’s bats heated up and hit at a .353 clip the final 21 games. For the season the red and gray batted .311.
Those Whippets sticks made an immediate impact against the Crimson Flashes.
Carter Brooks sparked SHS with a lead off double into the left-center gap and scored on Trevor Young’s single through the middle. Brennan Armstrong then reached on an error and Dillon Thornsberry’s walk loaded the bases. Back-to-back sacrifice flies by Brandon Schneider and Alex Paulo scored runs to make it 3-0.
It remained that way until the fourth.
Schneider led off the stanza with a double and advanced to third on Paulo’s fly to right. Darien Payne’s bunt was caught by the third baseman and his throw to third to get Schneider who was retreating back to third was off the mark and sailed down the left field line allowing Schneider to score.
Willard got as close as 4-3 in the fifth. After two strikeouts, the Flashes collected three hits and also took advantage of some sloppy play by Shelby to score three unearned runs.
In the bottom of inning No. 5 the Whippets got back two of those runs. Nate Sayre led off with a single and eventually scored on a wild pitch. Carter Brooks reached on an error and would eventually come home on a sacrifice fly lifted to center by Young.
Sayre started the SHS sixth off with another single, moved up on a single by Brooks and scored on a basehit to right by Young.
Amicone said his club sparked by a stingy pitching staff and Mason Wells was in the spotlight in the final game of the season. He allowed seven hits and racked up 13 strikeouts against one walk to improve to 4-3 on the mound.
“We were defined by our pitching with Dillon Thornsberry, Mason Wells, Garrett Caudill, Brennan Armstrong, Jacob Holloway and Tanner Elliott. They’re the reason we won the league,” said Amicone. Wells lowered his earned run average to 1.47 and as a team Shelby had an ERA of 1.46.
Jacob Buerger took the loss. He allowed eight hits, walked three and struck out five.
Reflecting on the season, Amicone said “it came down to one, we had a lot of talent, and two, we had a really great work ethic. To be a champion you need to have both. If you have one of them you can be a good team, but can’t be a champion without both.
“We were fortunate to have kids that really like the grind of it all,” said the coach of the Whippets.
The game against Willard, completed the high school careers of seven seniors - Charlie Vogt, Payne, Thornsberry, Wells, Young, Sayre and Schneider.
“For these seniors to leave without a league title would have been disastrous. They’re too good of kids and they worked too hard. The fact they did it, I couldn’t be happier for them. They deserve it,” said Amicone.
This year’s club joined the 20-win club, finishing the year at 20-6. In league play Shelby was 11-1. The last time the red and gray won at least 20 games was 1999 when they went 21-7 and also won a league title. The last conference crown for the Whippets was in 2007. Willard ends the spring at 1-20 and was 1-11 in the conference.