Righthander Garrett Wissman delivered the best performance of his life to pitch CJ into Saturday’s Division II championship game.
Columbus – His coach, Mike Barhorst, admitted as much – that senior righthander Garrett Wissman, all 5’11” and maybe 180 pounds of him, lets very little bother him.
“He’s the most laid back guy you’ll ever see,” said Barhorst. “Nothing seems to bother him. Doesn’t get too high, and doesn’t get too low.”
Which is exactly the way Wissman pitched Thursday afternoon, authoring a 1-hit shutout gem on the way to a Chaminade-Julienne (22-4) 3-0 win over Steubenville (28-5) in the first of the day’s two Division II semi-final games.
Wissman was so laid back, so composed, that the Steubenville hitters simply could not crack him. He threw just 85 pitches. He struck out 7, walked one, and only faced 23 batters.
And for a while he represented the only drama present, carrying a no-hitter two outs deep into the fifth inning. Steubenville’s pitcher, Nick Zorne, finally broke that up with an infield single that barely got beyond second base. Eagles’ second baseman, Nick Wissman, got a glove on it, but the ball was so weakly hit there was no time to throw out Zorne at first base. He beat the throw by a stride.
In the meantime, Wissman’s teammate, Ryan Peltier, football quarterback and baseball shortstop, delivered all the offense he would need with a first inning home run into the pavilion in left field. For the record, it represented the first home run hit in the state tournament that left the ballpark since the 2012 tournament.
The Eagles came back to tack on single runs in the second, and insurance tally in the fifth, and then…they left the rest to Wissman.
“You know,” said the CJ senior, “…I really just wanted to throw strikes. Someone told me that you only get a chance like this maybe once in your lifetime, so I wanted to make the most of it. It really helped getting the early offense. The home run in the first inning helped me relax.”
He did it with a crackling fastball and command of his breaking pitch, which he routinely threw out of the strike zone after getting ahead in the count to make the Big Red hitters chase. There simply was no hard contact. And contact made to the CJ infielders resulted in one routine play after another by the Eagles’ defense.
The game marked the first appearance by Chaminade in the state tournament since 1975. Saturday, facing the winner of the Maumee-Tallmadge game, the Eagles will attempt to win their second title, and their first since 1970!
“It’s a thrill,” admitted Mike Barhorst, after the game. Barhorst, a graduate of CJ, has Shelby County roots with family from both Fort Loramie and Russia. “You get here and then get a game like Garrett pitched, the home run from Peltier, and it’s just a special experience. The farthest I ever got as a high school player was the district finals. This has been a really special run for us.”
Saturday they’ll get a chance to achieve that which even Garrett Wissman admitted. As well as he pitched Thursday, it would be the second-best day of his baseball life…compared to actually winning one more game.
Like we said, there are gems, and then there are precious jewels. Championship are just that rare!