Perkins Pirates rolling despite end of winning streak

MORNING JOURNAL/TIM BIELIK Perkins’ Cameron Waldock, left, and Seth Bryant are key components to the Pirates’ success this season, starting the year off with 21-straight wins.

PERKINS — At the start of the season, Perkins coach Ray Neill told his players that he wasn’t going to shave until his team lost its first game of the season.

For seven weeks, Neill was not able to shave because his team just kept on winning.

Neill’s beard grew through 21 straight wins before the Pirates’ incredible start came to an end on Monday.

Perkins opened the 2013 season a perfect 21-0, its best start since the 2009 season when it started 27-0, and ranked as high as No. 1 in the Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association Poll before falling at home to Huron on Monday, 4-1.

Neill’s beard may be gone, but it was a symbol of how good his Pirates have been to open the season.

“You’ve got to be as lucky as you are good, and all that,” Neill said. “We’ve been fortunate. We’ve found holes when we needed to in some other tight games this year.

“I told the kids afterwards if we go back to March 29 and the baseball hierarchy said we don’t have to play a game until our 23rd game and they’re going to give us 21 wins and one loss, we’re going to be ranked No. 1 in the state and undefeated in our conference, would you take it? I think everybody said yes.”

Behind a combination of great pitching and offense led by seniors Cameron Waldock and Seth Bryant, the Pirates raced off to their 21-game winning streak which included a perfect 9-0 start in the difficult Sandusky Bay Conference to open the season.

“It was really crazy,” Waldock said. “Everyone’s in it together, and that’s a big difference from a lot of teams that have the athletes and the teams that play together. From the top to the bottom guy, we’re all friends and we all pick each other up no matter what happens just like (Monday).”

The team’s first loss of the season came by a strong pitching performance by Huron’s Colin McCready, who didn’t allow a run until the bottom of the seventh inning as the Tigers snapped the Pirates’ 21-game winning streak.

“I think no one wants it to end, especially the way it did when we really didn’t come ready to play,” Bryant said. “We knew we should have had this one, but it slipped. Everyone wanted to go undefeated. Everyone was talking about finishing it; only one team from Perkins has ever finished undefeated. It’s something we definitely wanted to do. But, we fell short.”

Even with the loss, winning 21 straight games to open the season is remarkable in itself because of how close so many high school baseball games can be and how quickly a game can turn in either direction.

“Innings change on bounces and bad outs, and stuff like that,” Neill said. “We’re a good baseball team. There’s teams just as good or better than us that aren’t putting together 21 wins in a row. It’s because the game’s not that easy.

“We need to be proud of it. It hurts when it ends, but be proud of it and right now, we just want to go put a 1-game winning streak together.”

That they did as the Pirates bounced back from Monday’s loss to beat Clyde on Wednesday to give themselves a 2-game lead in the SBC. With the perfect season out of reach, the Perkins seniors hope to add a conference title in its place.

“My thinking is we’ve got to go get it now,” Waldock said. “We’ll see what we’re made of by going and attacking and going to get ours. We’ll do it as a team, so it’s definitely a big difference losing this game. But I think it will help a lot of us and realize that we’ve got to come out here and we’ve got to be together every game to go get a win.

“I’m ready to go get it, and I know my boys are, too.”

Bryant said that even though the streak is just a memory now, it’s something that he and the rest of the seniors will have as part of their legacy.

“It’s a great streak for us,” he added. “It’s something we’re always going to talk about down the road.”

Now the focus is on finishing the season as the Pirates hope to finish better than last year’s district final loss. As for Neill, knowing that he was removing the beard on Monday was bittersweet.

“I didn’t want to shave,” Neill said, “but I’m happy about going home to shave.”



@Bielik_Tim

Last Updated: 5/9/2013 11:17:58 PM EST

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