Many of the fine programs that make up the conferences around the Chillicothe area not only represent the region during their high school years, but they continue to do so at the collegiate level as well. The Chillicothe Capitals is now giving these players a chance to stay home during their off-season, and play a high level of baseball to stay sharp for the following season.
Contributor Shayne Combs has more.
CHILLICOTHE – Many of the fine programs that make up the conferences around the Chillicothe area not only represent the region during their high school years, but they continue to do so at the collegiate level as well. The Chillicothe Capitals is now giving these players a chance to stay home during their off-season, and play a high level of baseball to stay sharp for the following season.
“Our goal in developing this team was to give our area kids a chance to hang around home during the off-season and still get a chance to play baseball,” Capitals coach Gene Bumgardner said. “We do get a guy from out of the area every now and then, but mainly we have accumulated a talented group of kids from southeast Ohio.”
The Capitals are a member of the Tri-State Collegiate League’s South Division, and their roster is made up of college players, most of which played their high school ball in the southeast district or the surrounding area. The Capitals entered their latest action the owners of a 6-4 record, but were welcoming a pair of teams out of the Pittsburgh area that were loaded with higher level college players that have had a year or two more experience in this wooden bat league.
“I would think it is safe to say our kids are not going to feel cheated about the level of baseball that they have the chance to be a part of this summer,” Bumgardner said. “Just about every team we face has several kids playing Division I college baseball, and most of them are far more experienced playing at this level.”
The action took place at Chillicothe’s VA Memorial Stadium. The Capitals hosted the undefeated Pittsburgh Pandas. After a disappointing 12-2 loss in game one, Chillicothe turned to former Unioto grad, Chris Trainer, who now plays his college ball at Capital and the right-hander slowed down Pittsburgh’s high-powered offense for nine innings; however the Pandas were able to plate an 11th-inning run to finish the doubleheader sweep with the 3-2 extra-inning win.
The following day, the Capitals were able to build off that momentum and earn a sweep of their own. Playing at Unioto High School, the Capitals welcomed the Pittsburgh Baseball Academy to town. Chillicothe was able to match the highly touted pitching staff from Pittsburgh and win a pair of pitcher duels. In game one, Chillicothe handed the ball to Brandon Russell and the southpaw from Rio Grande tossed a complete game shutout as Chillicothe mustarded just enough offense to capture a 2-0 victory. In game two, the Capitals got eleven strong innings from Alex Wamsley and Zach Alexander, but after a day filled with dominant pitching the Capitals needed a lift from their offense and they got it.
Jordan Baker – a 2003 graduate of Zane Trace High School who was drafted by the Florida Marlins organization and now plays his college ball at Urbana University – produced a leadoff hit to start the home-half of the 11th inning, and would eventually plate the game-winning run thanks to a walk-off double off the bat of Drew Maus.
“Overall it was a solid weekend,” Bumgardner said. “We were obviously disappointed with the way we played in game one, but other than that we played some good baseball against two really good teams. The coaching staff (which includes Marker Trainer, Tony Taylor and Jack Penwell) was really pleased with how we competed this weekend.”
SIDE NOTE: Bumgardner also established the junior high baseball league that has spread throughout most of southern Ohio. What started as the Ross County Junior High Baseball League a few years back is now called the First Capital Junior High Baseball League. This league contained 32 eighth grade teams and 20 seventh grade teams this past year, and it had representation from London to Fairland and Athens to Washington Court House.
“We have some great high school programs in southern Ohio,” said Bumgardner who is a member of the Unioto High School baseball staff. “The idea of the junior high league is to help get these kids an opportunity to play to better themselves for their high school years.”