Janesville's 13U baseball team set for World Series
Janesville's 13U baseball tournament team first played together as 9-year-olds.
The team won a state title that year, and five years later, it is still piling up the wins.
The 2014 team won its fourth state title in five years and its second Ohio Valley Regional title in the last three years.
On Thursday, Janesville's 13U all-stars leave for Glen Allen, Virginia, and the Cal Ripken World Series. The 13U's are the fourth team from Janesville's storied youth program to advance to the World Series, with the city's other appearances coming in 1966, 2007 and 2011.
Janesville 13U head coach Jeff Endicott said the team's formula for success is a simple one.
“They don't like to lose, so no matter the score or situation, they just keep their heads down and keep moving forward,” Endicott said. “And since most of them have been playing together for so long, the chemistry on and off the field sets this team apart.”
Janesville opens pool play at the World Series at noon Saturday.
Left-hander Jordan Bailey is expected to start for Janesville in game one, with right-hander Dan Blomgren the scheduled starter in game two Saturday.
“That's a pretty good one-two punch we have with Jordan and Dan,” Endicott said. “They both have good composure on the mound and throw strikes.
“But really, we've got five kids that are going to pitch at the World Series, and I've got confidence in all five of them.”
Jacob Lynch, Ben Coulter and Ross March round out the rotation.
Jacob Campbell starts at catcher, and Endicott calls him the best at his position that he's seen at that age level.
“Jake shuts the running game down, and that makes a huge difference,” Endicott said. “A lot of times at this level, when a kid gets on first, he's on second after a pitch or two. Jake doesn't let that happen, and that's a luxury most teams don't have.”
The infield has March at third, Blomgren at shortstop, Coulter at second and Jake Fieirus at first. Lynch plays short or third if Blomgren or March is pitching.
“Blomgren and Coulter have very soft hands and work real well together up the middle,” Endicott said. “March has made an incredible recovery from a bad ATV accident and has been a big part of our success, while Fieirus just continues to get better.”
Bailey anchors the outfield in center, flanked by either Sam Nemetz or J.J. Brennan in left and Tanner Williams in right.
“Bailey is just a very, very skilled all-around player,” Endicott said. “He does everything well. And Williams has made great strides defensively in right as well as being our clean-up hitter.
“Nemetz made a spectacular over-the-head catch at the Ohio Valley Regional that made a big difference, while Brennan is a solid player.”
The team's top reserves are Ryan Herbst and Sam Stried, and Endicott said every player on the roster has contributed during the team's incredible postseason run.
Janesville plays four pool-play games before the World Series turns into a single-elimination format for the remaining six teams.
“Obviously, we're taking a big step up in competition,” Endicott said. “These are going to be the best teams throughout the country.
“But these kids have handled the pressure well all season. Nothing rattles them, and I think a lot of that has to do with the face that they've been playing together for so long.”