The team got together for a short workout before their battle with the Erie County All-Star team on Tuesday in the Sports Force Parks All-Star Game in Sandusky. With players from Norwalk, St. Paul, Monroeville, Western Reserve, New London, Plymouth, South Central, and Willard, the Huron County stars are stacked with the area’s best baseball talent.
Seven of the 16 players are seniors playing in their final high school baseball game of their lives. Justin Studd of Western, Austin Nester of Plymouth, Ryan Lane and Jake Gerlak of New London, Mitch Perry of Norwalk, Josh Buerger of Willard and Owen Keysor of South Central lace up the cleats for the final time.
“I have been playing baseball for a long time and I just want to go out and swing the bat one last time,” Nester said. “I wouldn’t mind pitching a couple of innings too. We have a great team and I have seen all of these guys first hand this year and I have noticed some great things. (Stephan) Hood from Western is a great ballplayer and Seth (Bailey) can just hit all day. I hope we can play the middle infield a little bit together and turn some double plays; maybe get a little fancy.”
Nester came into the contest as a first team All-Firelands Conference selection and first team All-District 9 honoree. He had 32 hits, 28 RBI and 24 stolen bases during his senior season. He went 5-1 with a 1.38 ERA on the bump with 55 strikeouts. He is joined by teammate junior Seth Bailey who led the area in hits and RBI this season. He collected 43 hits and 40 RBI and was named the Firelands Conference and Norwalk Reflector Player of the Year.
Also playing in his final game is Perry. He will be heading to Malone University next season to continue his baseball career. He was a first team All-Northern Ohio League selection after hitting .371 with 29 hits and 16 RBI while going 5-0 on the hill with a 1.75 ERA and 20 strikeouts.
“I always look forward to getting better,” Perry said. “I am not on a summer team this year so this will be nice to get out here and play again. I am excited to face some very good pitching. That is going to prepare me very well for college ball. We have some great kids on the team who are very competitive and I love that quality in teammates. We expect to win.”
Perry will be playing with Norwalk junior Quinn Hipp who also was a first team All-NOL selection after hitting .378 with 31 hits and 10 RBI. He sported a 0.93 ERA with 11 strikeouts and two saves.
Sticking with the NOL theme, Buerger laces up his cleats one last time after hitting .333 with 20 hits and seven RBI this season for Willard. He is joined by Bryce Bailey who hit .244 with 11 hits as an underclassman.
“I am really looking forward to the great competition and coming together with all of these great players to try and put on a show for the fans,” Buerger said. “It is really neat to come together with kids from other schools. It is weird to play with them because you go from striking people out or giving up a home run to them to now being teammates. It is very cool to be able to do that.”
South Central sends Keysor and freshman Isaiah Seidel to the Huron County team. Keysor sported a 3-2 record on the mound with a 2.82 ERA. Seidel was a second team All-FC selection after hitting .254 with 16 hits as a frosh.
“Its going to be a lot of fun and we have a ton of talent on our team,” Keysor said. “We are going to be loaded with pitching. We have Lane and the Western Reserve guys can throw the ball well. We have Isaiah Seidel too who was my teammate and he was selected as a freshman so you know how good of a ball player he is. He can hit with the best of them. He has a very bright future in baseball.”
St. Paul sends a pair of juniors to the team in Kurt Maxwell and Luke Carper. Maxwell was a first team All-Ohioan after hitting .405 with 34 hits and 16 RBI. He had a 4-1 record on the mound with a 2.63 ERA and 23 strikeouts. Carper was a first team All-FC selection after hitting .450 with 36 hits and 31 RBI. He had a successful year on the mound as well with a 3-1 record and a 2.41 ERA.
New London’s Ryan Lane suits up for the final time before heading off to Kent State to continue his baseball career. He has already been named the starter for the contest after earning FC Pitcher of the Year honors with his 9-1 record and 1.00 ERA with 126 strikeouts. He is joined by Jake Gerlak who will also represent the Wildcats for the final time. He was a first team All-FC selection after hitting .371 with 33 hits and 37 runs scored.
“We have some of the smaller schools out of the whole event, but the best players from those smaller schools can compete with anyone,” Norwalk and Huron County coach Wes Douglas said. “These kids have proven they are the best of the best from their team and of this county. They are fortunate to have this opportunity to play in something like this. I hope they appreciate everything this will provide. They represent their school and their county on the baseball field.”
Brayden Hood and Justin Studd of Western will represent the Roughriders. Studd will play in his final game, but will likely not see time on the mound after throwing in a Legion game on Sunday. He was a first team All-FC selection with his 2.04 ERA and 62 strikeouts. Hood was also a first team All-FC honoree with his .348 batting average on 23 hits.
“The great thing is there is no pressure on these guys,” Douglas said. “They can come out and just play baseball the way they know how and showcase their skills. It will be fun to see some different players who you don’t get the opportunity to see. It is also nice to be able to coach with these different coaches. Jason (Higgins) played for me and now we will coach together. It is great to coach quality kids who just come out and take care of themselves and know how to play the game.”
Rounding out the roster is Gage Blackford and Austin Hanlon of Monroeville who are both underclassmen. Blackford was a first team All-FC selection after hitting .466 with 34 withs and 16 RBI. He sported a 3.47 ERA on the mound with 31 strikeouts. Hanlon hit .366 wth 26 hits and 14 RBI.
Douglas will coach the Huron County All-Stars along with Plymouth’s Jason Higgins and their staffs. Douglas is looking forward to one final game with being able to coach Perry.
“He has been a great player,” Douglas said. “He came in following in his brother’s (Issac) shadow. As he played, he wasn’t the little brother anymore. He was Mitch Perry and he left his own mark on the program. He put up an outstanding career and he is the last Perry to come through the program.”
The baseball game is scheduled to kick off at 7:30 p.m. and it will be a nine inning contest. The game is held at Sports Force Parks in Sandusky and will follow the Huron County vs Erie County softball all-star game at 5 p.m.