Lake baseball seeking to make history Sunday


AKRON — Behind a four-hit shutout pitched by junior Drew Tajblik, Lake defeated Minford, 4-0, in a Division III state semifinal baseball game Saturday at Canal Park in downtown Akron.

Lake has the chance to become just the second Wood County baseball team to win a state title, and the first since Pemberville High School brought home a Class B state title in 1939 after qualifying for three straight years (1937-39).

“It’s amazing. This is the greatest feeling in the world,” Tajblik said. “Especially to do it at this time, too, is awesome, and just to come out and play as we are.”

Even though it’s Lake baseball’s fourth trip to the state tournament (1935, 1956, 2001), it is the first time Lake has reached the state championship, plus they could become the first team from Lake in any sport to win a state team championship.

“It means the world,” Tajblik said. “To be the first team in any sport at Lake High School to win a state championship is awesome. Especially to do it with this team, too, it is amazing.”

Lake coach Casey Witt added, “It’s a great opportunity with a great group of guys, great coaches. I’m really proud of the way this group has battled all year. I didn’t anticipate that being any different today.

“They played a really nice game, played our brand of baseball and now we get rewarded with a really unique opportunity,” Witt continued. “After tonight, there are eight teams across the entire state (across four divisions) that are still playing.

“We are excited that we are one of them. I told them that we are going to enjoy it umtil we get back to school. We made history but it’s going to be a lot cooler is we can go win one tomorrow.”

In the state championship, Lake (28-4), ranked fourth in the final state poll, will face No. 2 Heath (27-2), 4-3 winners in eight innings in the other semifinal over No. 20 Apple Creek Waynedale (23-7), the two-time defending state champions.

The Flyers and Bulldogs will play for the state hardware at 4 p.m. Sunday at Canal Park, the home park of the Akron RubberDucks, the Cleveland Guardians Double-A affiliate.

Lake was the Northern Buckeye Conference champions after picked to finish fourth, and now they will finish as either state runner-up or state champions.

“I’ve been a firm believer that preseason coaches’ polls doesn’t really mean anything,” Witt said. “Nobody really knows anything. We knew what we had in our gym, on our field, and honestly, that is all that matters. This is an example of that.”

Witt was hired three years to follow the legacy of longtime Lake coach Greg Wilker, who he played for. Witt takes that role seriously, even though he has big shoes to fill.

“I’m living out my childhood dream,” Witt said. “Since I’ve been in middle school I’ve wanted to be the baseball coach at Lake High School. This is just awesome that I get to do it with this group of players and these coaches.”

(Sentinel-Tribune photos by Nicholas Huenefeld)

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