The date was Friday, March 27th 2015. Coming off of a loss two days earlier against rival Kell HS, Cambridge faced a must-win game in the series finale against Kell that would help determine their 2015 playoff fate. To this point Cambridge had never made it to the GHSA playoffs, so tensions were mounting. As fate would have it a few injuries forced Cambridge to start nine sophomores and a senior for this pivotal game. Sophomore Jon Hirschland took the mound with his classmates in full support and went the distance in leading the Bears to a 9-3 victory, a game that featured a 3-run home run by sophomore Conner Young. Sophomores Hayden Onorato, Jake Swiacki and Young each had two hits, while Cameron Moore chipped in with a single that day. The surprising victory against the more seasoned Kell squad really catapulted that team into the playoff race, and they eventually made the playoffs with a big series victory over Sequoyah.
Those nine players, plus five additional classmates, didn't realize it at the time, but they were a huge part of making Cambridge the baseball program it is today. Many had come before them, but those young men raised the bar with their performances on and off the field. They continued their good work with an amazing 2016 season that saw almost every school season record broken, and included a school record 16 game winning streak. They finished that season off with a first-ever playoff win in round one against Southwest Dekalb, before losing a tough 3-game series to eventual state champion Houston County.
Fast forward to Friday, April 28th 2017. Cambridge had just won the final game of the regular season the week before to make the GHSA playoffs for the third season in a row. The opposition was the higher-seeded team from Alexander HS. The format is a best of three series, the first two of those games coming on Friday.
Cambridge started senior righty Jon Hirschland on the bump for the first game. Hirschland really pitched well his senior season with an ERA close to one. The game started off well for the visitors. Singles by Bradley Wiedman, Jake Swiacki and Blake Renner, plus a hit by pitch with the bases loaded by Sam Waylock gave Cambridge a quick 2-0 lead in the first. Singles by Cameron Moore and Swiacki pushed the score to 3-0 in the third. But the home team took over from there. Alexander answered with two in the bottom of the third and seven in the fourth to open it up, leading to the eventual final score of 9-4.
Hirschland took the loss, his second on the season. Wiedman, Swiacki and Renner led the offense with two hits each, while Wiedman and Christian Lail had doubles.
Cambridge sent senior lefty Austin Weiermiller to the mound in game two. The senior owns most every single season and career pitching record for Cambridge, most of which will never be broken in our lifetimes. He was up to the task this evening, as he almost always is. Neither team could get anything going in the first two innings. After a three strikeout 1-2-3 inning by Weiermiller in the top of the third, Cambridge got on the the board first in the bottom of the inning. Leading off the frame, Michael Kolesar launched a missile into the trees in right to make the score 1-0. Junior Teddy Egan then came through with a clutch single to right in the fourth to drive in Waylock to push the score to 2-0.
A couple of Cambridge miscues gave Alexander a run in the fifth, and they tied the game with another run in the sixth. Singles by Egan and Hayden Onorato set up a clutch hit by Kolesar to drive home the game winner in the bottom of the sixth. After allowing a leadoff single, Weiermiller closed out the victory with a strikeout to even the series at a game a piece.
Weiermiller went the distance, allowing an earned run on three hits with thirteen strikeouts. Kolesar was the offensive star with his home run and the game-winning hit. Egan had a couple of hits and the clutch RBI.
On a breezy Saturday afternoon, Cambridge sent senior lefty Hayden Onorato to the mound. He ran into quick trouble in the first but managed to escape with only a couple of runs scored. The offense came right back in the bottom of the inning via back-to-back doubles by Waylock and Wiedman to make the score 2-1. Onorato battled for the next few innings, keeping the potent Alexander offense off the board until allowing a sacrifice fly in the fourth to make the score 3-1. Swiacki relieved Onorato in the fifth to keep the score at 3-1. But the stout Alexander offense pushed three runs across in the sixth to make the score 6-1, effectively ending the game. Cambridge loaded the bases in the seventh but could not push anything across, and the season came to an end.
Onorato took the loss, going 4 1/3 innings allowing two earned runs on four hits with six strikeouts. Cameron Moore had two hits and Wiedman and Waylock had doubles to account for the offense.
While the season did not end with a state championship as most players, coaches and family members hope for at the beginning of every season, it was a successful one nonetheless. After a rough start going up against stout competition, plus a jump from 5A to 6A competition, the team really came together the second half of the season to play its best ball and make the playoffs for the third consecutive year. The entire team should be proud of its accomplishments, but those special seniors should be doubly so. The legacy they've helped create at Cambridge will benefit the players who follow in their footsteps for years to come. So a special shout-out goes to Cameron Moore, Michael Kolesar, Jon Hirschland, Sam Waylock, Brice Shafer, Conner Young, Tyler Malloni, Austin Weiermiller, Jake Swiacki, Bradley Wiedman, Crew Cohoes, Hayden Onorato, Luke Foote and Ryan Fahey. While your time on the ball field at Cambridge has come to an end, the memories of your accomplishments, of which there are many, will not be forgotten. The Cambridge baseball community wishes you the best as you navigate your way through the next stage of your lives. And don't be strangers. We expect to see you in the stands, and in the new hitting facility you helped build, in the years to come.
And, oh yeah, Go Bears!