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Published: Wednesday, 7/1/2009

Renegades take baseball title by beating Panthers

BY ZACH SILKA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

The Midwest Renegades 14-and-under baseball team recently claimed a state title.

The Renegades won the 14U Nations Elite Ohio State Tournament in Pickerington, Ohio, in late May, defeating the Pickerington Panthers 11-2 in the championship game.

One of 32 Ohio teams in the tournament, the Renegades went undefeated for a perfect 7-0 record and an overall record of 32-4.

We were thrilled that we were able to play so well, Renegades head coach Jim Rogers said. The boys really kept their focus and played one game at a time. We had to play four games all in one day [to win the title on Father s Day] and we had to beat the defending state champion to win it.

The Renegades, who compete across northwest Ohio and play home games in Pemberville and at St. Francis de Sales, have compiled a 78-7 record over the last two seasons.

What makes it very neat is the boys are a very close-knit group, Rogers said. Even though they re from eight different schools, they play great team baseball. They all get together and hang out during the summer and spend time together.

The Midwest Renegades championship team comprises one high school sophomore-to-be in Zach Coffield (Eastwood) and 11 incoming freshmen, including Ben Ivan (Toledo Christian), Drake Johnson (Otsego), Jim Johnston (Central Catholic), Blake Kohring (Eastwood), Jim Orwick (Findlay), John Rogers (Eastwood), Ryan Smoyer (Otsego), Joe Solomon (Central Catholic), Corey Tipton (St. John s Jesuit), and Eric and Matthew Zmuda (St. Francis de Sales).

I have some boys on this team that are remarkable athletes, Rogers said. They re all leaders in their respective schools and they re all multisport athletes. They re not single-sport kids, and I m really proud of that.

Every kid on this team plays at least two sports, most of them play three, and four kids played four sports in the last year. These kids are good athletes who play baseball.

Contact Zach Silka at:zsilka@theblade.comor 419-724-6110.



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