The Clark State Men’s Baseball team claimed the Ohio Community College Athletic Conference (OCCAC) title with two wins over Lorain County, ending their season 30 – 12 and 16 – 6 in the conference.
As the OCCAC Champions, Clark State received an automatic bid into the Region XII District Baseball Tournament. The first round is set for Thursday, May 12 and Friday, May 13 hosted by Clark State at Carleton Davidson Stadium, 1101 Mitchell Boulevard, Springfield.
The Eagles will take on the Edison State Chargers with the first pitch at 1 p.m. followed by the second game beginning at approximately 4:30 p.m.
This first round is a best of three series with two games played on May 12 and the tiebreaker game – if needed - on May 13. A win in the first series, would advance the Clark State Eagles to the final four for the District Tournament on May 19, 20 and 21.
“To say I'm proud of the accomplishment would not begin to cover what these student-athletes have actually done,” said head coach Rick Antinori. “Taking over in November, I felt the players needed a sense of ownership and belonging to Clark State College. The team went out and put the work in to give themselves an opportunity.”
Throughout the season, the coaches awarded a Championship Belt to a Player of the Week and posted it on social media.
“The idea was to recognize a player who did something special or put in the extra work. It was something to get the guys together,” said assistant coach Rick White “At the end of the season, the team would vote on the MVP and that player would take it home.”
Outfielder and team captain Garrett Scott, a sophomore at Clark State, said the baseball team has come a long way since coaches Antinori and White took the helm last fall.
“Clark State is like a second home to me so being able to make history has been a feeling that I can’t even describe,” said Scott. “This season wouldn’t be able to happen if Coach Antinori and Coach White hadn’t stepped up and put us in the situation to win.”
Scott said the impact the two coaches have made on Clark State’s baseball program in such a short period of time was impactful.
Director of Clark State Athletics Justin McCulla said when both Coach Antinori and Coach White took over the program in November, they shared the same vision on where they wanted the baseball program to go.
“Each day, the coaching staff and players worked hard. It was a long process, but the hard work paid off for them: winning our first OCCAC Baseball Conference Championship,” said McCulla. “It’s hard to describe the excitement I have for the coaching staff and the players. We created a plan and had a goal to win the conference. The coaches put that plan into action, and the players bought in and did the work. They have created a lot of buzz around the college. They understand that the remaining games are special.”
The top eight baseball schools in NJCAA Region XII will meet face off for a bid to the NJCAA Division II Baseball World Series in Enid, OK. The first week team will play on campus sites of the higher seeds for a best 2 out of 3 series on May 12-13. The four remaining teams will meet at Siena Heights University in Adrian, Michigan on May 19-21, in a double elimination tournament to determine the Region XII Champions.