Janesville has been known to some as the City of Champions.
And no sport has contributed more to that moniker than baseball.
This past weekend, Janesville’s storied youth baseball program added to the championship list. Six different Janesville Youth Baseball teams won Cal Ripken Baseball or Babe Ruth League state titles, and in doing so they all advanced to Ohio Valley Regional play.
With the 13U and 14U Babe Ruth teams capturing state titles Tuesday, Janesville tournament teams from all six age levels that played in a state tournament won a state title.
“I don’t think there’s any question that Janesville continues to have one of the top youth programs in the state,” said Brian Martin, the coach of the Janesville 11U state championship team and the former longtime head coach at Janesville Parker High.
“Kids are taught how to play the game the right way, and I think it’s important for them as they get older to try and keep the tradition going.”
Here’s a rundown of the teams advancing to Ohio Valley Regional play:
In improving to 23-6-1 on the season, the Janesville 9U Blue team rolled to a state title. The local team defeated Janesville Red 12-0 in the championship game.
Competing in the Ohio Valley Regional at Mt. Sterling, Kentucky, Blue 9U opens up pool play Friday with two games. Janesville plays Campbellsville, Kentucky, at 9 a.m. and South Bend, Indiana, at 2 p.m.
Members of the team are Colton Smalley, Eli Demrow, Malachi Schoonover, Hank Nickols, Carter Salas, Joseph Trumpy, Brody Knuth, Aidan Stuck, Eli Davis, Ollie Millard, Trae Forrett, Trenton Jacobson and Sam Monroe. Coaches are Chris Davis, Dave Davis, Matt Millard and Phil Trumpy.
Janesville’s 10U team rallied to win a state title Sunday. The local team came from behind to beat DC Everest 8-7 in the championship game.
The 10Us open their OVR tournament Friday in Newburgh, Indiana, with two games in pool play. Janesville plays Vincennes, Indiana, at 9 a.m. and Green County, Kentucky, at 2 p.m.
“We live and die with our defense and our pitching, and it has been pretty good so far,” coach Matt Barr said.
“The majority of this team went to the Ohio Valley Regional last year as 9-year-olds, so I’m hoping we’re not as shell-shocked this year as we were last year. And I don’t think they will be.”
Members of the team are Brady Ausen, Chase Barr, Carson Biddick, Ryan deLorimier, Sawyer Dominy, Keegan Leeder, Gentry Madsen, Asher Schoonover, Henry Simmons, Michael Sikich, Jack Spielmann, Carter Vande Berg and Easton Zastrow. Coaches are Matt Barr, Brian Spielmann, Aaron Ausen and Brodie Klukas.
The 11U group dropped a game at the state tournament in Dodgeville but bounced back to win its last two games, including the state championship.
Martin said his team has thrived this summer by taking advantage of playing on a bigger field. The dimensions used at the 11U level are a pitching distance of 50 feet and a bath path distance of 70 feet.
“We’ve got really good team speed, and since this is the first year where the boys are actually playing real baseball rules where you can lead off at first base and not have to wait until the pitch is thrown, we’ve been real aggressive on the bases,” Martin said. “We’re a very opportunistic team that scraps and does what it takes to get the job done.
“What I like best about this group is that we’re really trying to teach them how to play the game, and they’re going out and executing what we’re teaching them. And nothing bothers them. They’re a pretty care-free group.”
The 11Us advanced to the OVR in Lake Cumberland, Kentucky, and open up pool play with two games Friday. Janesville plays Northern Indiana at 11:30 a.m. and host Cumberland at 7 p.m.
Members of the team are Charlie Fitzke, Jake Cummins, Liam Taylor, Treyton Jones, Jakob Martin, Logan Weiland, Brady Reed, Alex Lawton, Nolan Hanel, Parker McCormick, Mason Arrowood, Sam Nickols, Carter Stueck and Carter Thompson. Coaches are Brian Martin, Brad Fitzke and Tyler Allison.
The 12U team used a walk-off win in the state semifinal game en route to the state title. Paul Platts’ game-winning, bases-clearing double helped Janesville rally for a 4-3 win over Stevens Point in the semis before the local team cruised to an 11-6 win over Eau Claire in the championship.
“We don’t really have any superstars on the team, but we do have a pretty talented team,” coach Curt Nickols said. “We’ve got good pitching and everybody on the roster has contributed.
“This obviously will be the biggest tournament these kids have ever played in, but if they keep doing what they’ve been doing, I don’t think there’s any reason why they can’t have success.”
Janesville begins pool play Friday at the OVR in Crown Point, Indiana. The local team plays host Crown Point at 7 p.m. and then plays two more pool play games Saturday against Hyde Park, Illinois, and Campbellsville, Kentucky.
Members of the team are Finn Dillon, Peyton Davis, Anthony Grecco, George Greene, Ryan Lemm, Drayton Lou, Eddie McLevige, Charlie Nickols, Platts, Ben Schaffner, Keegan Skrzypchak, and Olin Zellmer. The coaches are Curt Nickols, Eric Skrzypchak and Todd Grecco.
The 13U team made it five state championships for Janesville with a 3-2 win over Eau Claire in the state title game Tuesday morning.
Denver Hughes tied the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth inning with a suicide squeeze bunt, and Charlie Claas followed with the game-winning suicide squeeze to make it 3-2.
Tayelin Sihabouth pitched a scoreless seventh to earn the save, while Aidan Schenk was the winner.
“We really came alive with the bats at the state tournament, and our pitching has been great all summer,” Janesville coach Rick Kyle said. “I think we scored 50 runs or so at state and only allowed five or six.
“It’s a great group of kids that are playing really well right now. We’re looking forward to hosting the Ohio Valley Regional.”
Janesville was already guaranteed a spot in next week’s OVR because it is hosting the tournament. Information for the tournament will be released later in the week.
Members of the team are Sihabouth, Schenk, Josh Knuth, Broden Jackson, Hughes, Claas, Isaac Arellano, Tyler Horkan, Lucas Labuguen, Carson McCormick, Nick Gregg, Jaicy Campbell and Tre Miller. Coaches are Kyle, Kerry Michaels and Andrew Gregg.
Janesville’s 14U team improved to 31-1 on the season with a 10-0 win over Stevens Point in the state title game Tuesday.
Ian Perkins pitched a complete-game two-hitter and Trey Bock had three hits, including two doubles, to lead the local team to the win in a game that was called in the bottom of the sixth inning due to the 10-run rule.
The 14Us advance to next week’s OVR in Huntington, West Virginia.
Members of the team are Jack Adams, Trey Bock, Griffin Davis, Connor Dillon, Devin Gudenschwager, Hunter Klietz, Brent Klukas, Ian Perkins, Jack Ryan, Jake Schaffner, Patrick Shork, Dylan Snyder, Joe Stried, Riley Wauchop and Cal Wilson. Coaches are Tom Davey, Jim Kauss, Tony Coulter, TJ Bell and Kyle Birkett.