What a year it has been on the baseball diamond for Janesville.
Dyersville, Iowa and its “Field of Dreams” has nothing on this great city.
World Series appearances, state titles and No. 1 rankings highlighted another successful season of baseball for Janesville.
And in a fitting end to the season and coming on the heels of the 30th anniversary of Janesville’s American Legion team finishing third at the World Series, another local baseball team found itself in the same position this week.
Janesville’s 13U tournament team, much like Post 205 30 years ago, lost a tough semifinal game to finish third at the Babe Ruth World Series.
The 13Us magical postseason run capped off what may have been the greatest single season in the long-storied history of Janesville baseball.
Things started during the spring high school season. Janesville Craig spent the majority of the season ranked No. 1 in Division 1. The Cougars coasted to a Big Eight Conference title and a No. 1 seed in their sectional tournament.
Upstart Janesville Parker, under first-year coach Kerry Michaels, shocked its longtime city rival with a 1-0 upset win in a regional final game before a packed crowd at Riverside Park. The Vikings lost in a sectional semifinal game.
At the collegiate level, Janesville had six players on NCAA Division I rosters, three of whom advanced to postseason play.
Heading the list was University of Michigan’s Jack Blomgren. The 2017 Craig graduate was the starting shortstop for the Wolverines and a key cog in the team’s trip to the College World Series best-of-three championship against Vanderbilt. Blomgren was named to the all-tournament team and got plenty of airtime on ESPN when Michigan upset top-ranked UCLA in the Super Regionals. Vanderbilt beat Michigan in the third and deciding game for the national title.
Blomgren’s high school teammate, Evan Spry, played for Creighton University. The Blue Jays earned a berth in the postseason but lost to Blomgren and the Wolverines in the championship game of the Oregon State Regional.
Jake Campbell, a 2018 Craig graduate and Philadelphia Phillies draft pick, was a catcher for the University of Illinois. The Illini also advanced to the NCAA tournament but lost their first two games at the University of Mississippi Regional.
Jordan Bailey, a 2018 Parker graduate, wrapped up his freshman season at Bradley University, while his older brother, Zach, finished his baseball career at Chicago State University.
Noah Berghammer, a 2018 Craig graduate, was a medical red-shirt his freshman season at the University of Minnesota.
The summer season brought a slew of success for the Janesville Youth Baseball and Softball Association. Led by the 13U team, six JYBSA teams won state titles.
The 9U, 10U, 11U, 12U, 13U and 14U squads all brought home state titles and made strong runs at their respective Ohio Valley Regionals. The 14U team and the 9U team both advanced to the championship round.
Janesville has had plenty of success at the statewide level over the years, but 2019 is believed to be the first time local teams won state titles in every tournament they entered.
And after a one-year hiatus, Janesville players teamed with Beloit to bring back the American Legion program. Several players from Parker and Craig played on the Rock County River Monsters, who advanced to state before losing in the semifinals.
The great Benjamin Franklin once said the only certainties in life are death and taxes.
He forgot about the success of Janesville baseball.