Golden Bears win first-ever state title in baseball
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Waynedale senior Ean Miller points skyward during the state semifinal game in a gesture honoring Deegan Bee, a classmate killed in car crash.
Waynedale’s Timmy Short with the hit at the state semifinal game.
Ean Miller hits a triple.
Waynedale’s Trey Barkman winds up for the pitch at the state semifinal game at Canal Park in Akron against Liberty Union.
By ROBERT McCUNE
The Waynedale Golden Bears made history at Akron’s Canal Park in the OHSAA Division III State Championship, beating the Milan Edison Chargers 2-1 in eight innings on Saturday to bring home the school’s first-ever state title in baseball.
It was also the first state baseball championship to be won by a Wayne County team in 56 years – the last team to do so was Northwestern in 1966. It marked the first trip to the state finals in school history for the Waynedale baseball team, as well as the first state title for any Waynedale team since its wrestlers brought home a title in 2012.
The Golden Bears dedicated the championship win to their late classmate Deegan Bee, who died June 8 from injuries sustained in a head-on car crash. 16-year-old Bee was on the school’s golf team and would have started his junior year in the fall.
Waynedale entered Saturday’s championship game ranked second in the Wayne County Athletic League, and unbeaten and on a 25-game winning streak. With the win over Milan Edison, the team finished the season with a record of 30-4. Two of those four losses came in a double-header in mid-April against Norwayne, the last time the team took an “L.”
Senior second-baseman and catcher Josiah Raber scored both of the Golden Bears’ runs.
Waynedale scored first in the bottom of the first inning, when an errant throw by Edison shortstop Brady Barker allowed Josiah Raber to reach home plate from second base.
The Golden Bears held the lead until the top of the fifth inning, when Edison’s Thomas Simon hit a single to bring home Bryce Michaelis.
With the teams tied at 1 after seven innings, the championship game went into extra innings.
Waynedale held off the Chargers, with two on base, in the top of the eighth inning; and then with bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth, junior centerfielder Connor Gatti drove Josiah Raber home on a walk-off single to end the game.
Waynedale’s sophomore pitcher Ottoniel Soloranzo gave up only nine hits from the mound in earning the win. Junior Dylan Raber, senior Ean Miller and senior Braden Hershberger also got on base for the Golden Bears.