West starting pitcher Justin Chislow fires one home in his complete
game effort against Buckeye last Wednesday in a Patriot Athletic
Conference crossover game. Chislow and the Longhorns prevailed,
6-2. (West Life photo by Larry Bennet)
stampede to top of PAC
By Jim Horvath
Published May 6, 2009
year, the Lutheran West baseball team made great strides in winning
the Stripes Division of the Patriot Athletic Conference and advancing
to the Division III district semifinals.
This spring, the Longhorns have picked up where they
And, they’re looking for more.
Last week, West started off the week with an impressive
6-3 win over Stars Division rival Keystone. The Longhorns followed
that up with another victory over a Stars Division foe, a 6-2 decision
over Buckeye on Wednesday.
Although their game with Brookside was rained out
later in the week, head coach Dave Sellke’s squad had moved to 13-2
overall and a sparkling 7-0 in the PAC. Last Sunday, the Longhorns
received the second seed behind Independence in the upcoming Division
III Sectional/District Tournament.
“We went into the tournament draw with the same record,”
said Sellke of getting the No. 2 spot. “Independence is ranked third
in the state, though, so that’s probably why they got the first
“That’s alright, because our players have accepted
the challenges they’ve faced all season to this point,” said Sellke.
“We knew coming into this spring that we weren’t going to sneak
up on anybody because of what we accomplished last year.”
The Longhorns’ only losses this season were to Garfield
Heights during their spring trip to Tennessee and a second-game
defeat at the hands of Cleveland Central Catholic in a doubleheader.
Other than that, it has been a combination of defense, pitching
and – since the spring trip – hitting that has the ‘Horns poised
to make a tournament run.
“Especially early on, it seemed like we were playing
good defense and getting the good pitching to go with it,” said
Sellke, who has solid starting pitchers in juniors Cal Thomay (4-0,
1.38 ERA), junior Justin Chislow (3-0, 0.33 ERA), Billy Valletto
(3-1, 1.33 ERA) and Rodney Bassett (3-1, 2.86 ERA).
“Our bats finally started to come around during our
spring trip,” said Sellke. “I think getting to play in some warmer
weather really helped us. I think that also gave us an advantage
against our opponents once we got back home, especially against
teams that weren’t able to get away from the colder weather.”
to an RBI single from teammate Justin Chislow, Lutheran West’s
Bill Valletto rounds third and heads for home during the second
inning of last Wednesday’s PAC game with Buckeye. (West Life
photo by Larry Bennet)
Mike Holick, yet another junior, leads the team in
batting average at a robust .489, while Chislow is right behind
at .424. Thomay is at .356, while junior catcher Zach Hausmann is
batting .323. Caleb O’Hara rounds out the .300-plus club at .310.
Leading the team in runs batted in, however, is Ryan
Jones. Jones, also a junior, is batting just .286, but has knocked
in 18 runs and has three home runs so far this season. Thomay has
driven in 12 runs and Chislow nine, while Holick leads the team
in doubles (seven), triples (five) and stolen bases (18).
Last year, Sellke’s first with the squad, the Longhorns
finished 19-7 overall and were 11-2 in the PAC. West has already
defeated Wellington, Keystone and Buckeye from the Stars Division,
as well as all the teams in the Stripes Division so far this season.
A game with Black River this past Monday and a makeup
game with Brookside, probably this Friday, will complete the Stars
Division portion of the Longhorns’ schedule. But Sellke knows there
are more big games coming up after that.
“Before the season, I was worried a bit that teams
would be definitely more ready to play us because of last year,”
said Sellke. “We knew we’d have to play hard each and every game
because of that, and so far we’ve fared pretty well.
“We know there are some big games still ahead of us
in order to win the conference and do well in the tournament. We
lost to Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy in last year’s tournament,
so we’d like to go a bit further this year. That’s been one of our
main goals,” he said.
If last week was any indication, the Longhorns may
be able to do just that. They’ll open sectional play against PAC
foe Brooklyn on May 12. With a win, they would advance to the sectional
championship game against the winner of Wellington and Clearview.
Last week against Keystone, West rallied from a 3-1
deficit with a five-run sixth inning. O’Hara drove in the first
run in the rally with a single up the middle, while three consecutive
hits from Holick, Chislow and Thomay after the ‘Horns had loaded
the bases drove in four more runs.
On the mound, Thomay picked up the win with five innings
of work, while Chislow came in after the rally to earn the two-inning
save. It was his second save of the season.
Lutheran West had a totally different game offensively
against Buckeye. A sacrifice fly by Jones and an RBI single by Hausmann
gave the ‘Horns a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning for
a lead they never relinquished.
Holick wound up with a pair of doubles and two runs
scored to pace the offense, while Chislow went the distance on the
mound. He walked just one while striking out four Bucks.
As in any season, there have been some surprises along
the way that have been a big help to the Longhorns’ cause, according
“I’d have to say the biggest surprise has been Valletto,”
said Sellke. “He was second team PAC as a catcher last year, but
this year he’s been contributing more on the mound for us. A big
part of that is Hausmann, who has been able to spell him behind
“Having Valletto on the mound helps fill a void after
we graduated some pitching last year,” said Sellke. “And Bassett
is a kid who played junior varsity last year, but has stepped up
this season to win some big games for us. That helps take the pressure
off Thomay and Chislow.”
That pitching depth, said Sellke, will come in handy
when the tournament games begin.
Meanwhile, Lutheran West will concentrate on the regular
season this week. Tomorrow, the Longhorns travel to Brooklyn, with
the tentatively scheduled makeup game at Brookside probably being
Saturday, the Longhorns will host Cleveland Rhodes
in a doubleheader. First pitch is slated for 11 a.m.