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10 Years Later...
After 10 years of baseball for the Cleveland Black Wolves Baseball Club, quite a bit has been accomplished. What started as meager beginnings in 2004 (4-24 and dead last in the Cuyahoga County AAA) by Bob Ratica and centering around a group of recent Normandy High School graduates (myself included) has led to a list of accomplishments to be proud of:
- 263 wins and 145 losses (including 163-58 since 2009)
- 4 CABL League Championships (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013)
- 6 NABF Regional Appearances (2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013) including a runner-up finish in 2013 to eventual World Series champion
- 2011 and 2013 Berea Independence Day Classic Champions
- 51 all-league or all-star performers
- 6 players who went on to play professionally
- A list that includes 186 different players stepping in to a batter’s box with a Wolves jersey and 95 pitchers to toe the rubber for the Wolves
The team started in the Cuyahoga AAA league in 2004 where they got beat up by the likes of the Cleveland Mosquitoes, the Lake County Knights, and the Nature Stone Bulls and ended up being the bullies in the CABL 10 years later, with a stop in the NOSPBL along the way. In the process, the team was able to enjoy several fun rivalries against teams like the Westlake/Ohio Titans, the Fairview Marlins, Steve’s Sports, and the Lake Erie Buckeyes.
As a way to cap off the past 10 years and honor some of the players who have worn the red and black (well – besides the one year we had green and black jerseys - don’t ask), I’ve decided to put together an all-decade team. Some interesting facts about the team:
- Players from every year of the team’s existence made the squad
- There are 3 brother tandems that made the team
- 2 of the players were members of 4 League Championship teams while 5 others took part in 3 titles
- 4 of the 6 pitchers on the team are southpaws
- Cleveland State was the most well represented University on the team with 4 players
- 3 players on the team have actually convinced a woman to marry them and 2 have frighteningly reproduced
First up: The Honorable Mention category. Every player here deserved mentioning but was nudged out by another Wolf for a spot in the starting lineup or rotation. Despite that, everyone here played a critical role in many wins for the Black Wolves’ club.
TJ Deininger, Catcher, 2012 – 2013: 71 Games, 0.311 BA, 70 hits, 15 doubles, 42 RBI
Bill Gerstenslager, 1st Base, 2010 – 2011, 2013: 50 games, 0.385 BA, 60 hits, 10 doubles, 4 HR (3rd all-time), 36 RBI
Matt McAllester, SS, 2008 – 2009: 45 games, 0.405 BA, 57 runs (8th all-time), 60 hits, 31 SB (4th all-time)
Guy Sapienza, OF/1B/P, 2005 – 2006: 0.330 BA, 13 GS, 57 K’s, 5 wins, 2.15 ERA, 2005 Team Cy Young & DPOY
Adam MeWhinney, P, 2005 - 2007: 24 GP, 98 IP (6th all-time), 92 K’s (7th all-time), 7 wins (7th all-time), 2 saves, 2.28 ERA
Todd Schlenkerman, P, 2006 – 2008: 23 GP, 96 IP, 13 HB (team record), 132 K’s (5th all-time), 8 wins (6th all-time)
Adam Erskine, SS, 2006-2008: 86 GP (8th all-time), 80 hits, 48 runs, 41 RBI, 0.323 BA
Matt Jurevicius, OF, 2011 – 2013: 0.384 BA (4th all-time), 66 GP, 63 hits, 36 RBI
Adam Artman, OF, 2006 – 2007: 0.332 BA, 64 GP, 67 hits, 16 doubles, 31 RBI
Catcher: EJ Pokorny, 2004 – 2007: 125 GP (2nd all-time), 429 AB (2nd), 77 runs (3rd), 147 hits (2nd), 35 doubles (team record), 10 triples (team record), 6 HR (2nd), 86 RBI (2nd), 220 total bases (team record); 2004 & 2005 DPOY, 2006 & 2007 Team MVP, 2006 & 2007 All-League
E.J.’s stats speak for themselves. He meant much more than that to the Black Wolves, however. E.J. was the one that really started things for the Black Wolves, joining the team in 2004 (along with Craig Siemen) and helped transition the team in to a contender over the next 4 years. His team records stood for several years until 2012. E.J. was a feared hitter who hit best against the top pitching in the league. One of E.J.’s most memorable hits was a long homerun off of Stephen Procner who ended up pitching the Cleveland Mosquitoes to an NABF World Series later that year. On top of that, he was an anchor behind the plate who completely neutralized opposing runners. He was the first in a long line of standout catchers that played for the Wolves over the years that included Matt Razzante, Jame Toland, Adam Dennison, and TJ Deininger. Beyond producing on the field, E.J. was a leader who cared about the final product on the field. He pushed his teammates and was as reliable a performer as they come. A testament to E.J.’s ability – his 14 doubles for the Wolves in 2006 still stands as the best in team history – and was only matched by Anthony Sambula’s season in 2012. Oh, and then he hit 13 in 2007 to go along with 5 triples.
Utility: Bryan Miller, 2011 – 2013: 109 GP (4th all-time), 321 AB (5th), 102 hits (4th), 7 triples (4th), 37 SB (team record); 2013 DPOY
Bryan’s energy on the field and in the dugout for the Wolves over the last 3 years has been unmatched. With the ability to “coast” with the best of them, Bryan is part of the new school of Black Wolves players and has been a part of the most successful run in team history. With the ability to hit anywhere in the lineup and play multiple positions up the middle of the diamond, Bryan’s toughness and reliability have been critical to the team’s success. Bryan’s run with the Wolves has led to a 95-35 record and 3 league championships.
Relief Pitcher: Branden Stucky, 2009 – 2012: 31 GP, 62 IP, 54 K’s, 11 saves (team record), 1.02 ERA (team record)
“Stuck” is that dirty, slimy, cheating lefty that nobody wants to face when they only have 3 outs left…. And we sure are glad that he was on our side all those years. Armed with as filthy a slider as you’ll see and what seemed like about 13 other pitches (none were straight), Branden was that guy that held down the back end of our staff for about a third of the decade. Even when he didn’t have pinpoint location or he just downright couldn’t feel his arm, Stucky could get guys out because he was smarter than the batter. Period. Crafty is too simple a word to describe Branden and the way he was just one or two pitches ahead of the batter he was staring down on.
First Base: Stephen Dunn, 2008 – 2010: 81 GP, 0.384 BA (5th all-time), 94 hits (5th), 50 runs, 71 RBI (4th), 3 HR (4th)
In 2008 Stephen hit a ball at Westlake High School against the Lake Erie Buckeyes that I think just landed. But that was Steve – such a gifted hitter with control over the bat that few other players his size had. One of my favorite Stephen Dunn moments was actually when he was a Titan. Steve was coming around 3rd – all 250 pounds of him – and Ron Martin was catching. Ron, as I would have done, did just about the fanciest side step and tag I’ve ever seen to avoid Steve’s wrath coming down on him. Dunn not only was a beast at the plate, but he also could play some first base. Stephen was your prototypical 4-hitter and proved to be one of the most feared hitters in Cleveland for 3 years. His 40 RBI in 2009 is still the 3rd best total in team history!
Pitcher: Jake Bailosky, 2006 – 2008: 89 GP (6th all-time), 0.388 BA, 77 hits, 45 RBI, 16 SB, 14 wins (4th all-time), 106 K’s (6th), 135 IP (5th), 2.27 ERA (7th), 11 CG (4th), 6 saves (2nd)
Jake was one of the great all-around team players this club has ever seen – and between Sambula, Dan Yaniga, and him – was definitely one of the top 3. A gifted athlete in the outfield and one of the most intelligent players I have ever been around – Black Wolves or not – Jake was one of the players that helped take the Black Wolves off the ground and get them to the level they are now. My favorite moment with Jake was at the end of his first season with the Wolves when he said, “Craig, you know I had labrum surgery, right?” I knew, of course, that he had the injury. He said, “Yeah, I pretty much didn’t pick up a ball and throw until the start of this summer.” What Jake did coming off that surgery in 2006 was go 6-1 in 45 innings with 46 strikeouts and only walked 9 batters. Oh yeah, he also hit 0.302 in 26 games and played outfield. Unreal dedication and a great love of the game. Part of one of the great baseball families that I’ve been blessed to have around the team – I still remember having talks about baseball and strategy with his dad.
Utility – Mitch Herringshaw (2011 – 2013): 110 GP (3rd all-time), 68 runs (6th), 92 hits (7th), 74 RBI (3rd), 16 doubles, 28 SB (5th), 2012 Team MVP
No player has shown greater improvement from the start of their career with the Black Wolves through the balance of it than Mitch Herringshaw. Mitch, though, even when he didn’t hit was always a valuable defensive cog for the team, and has been a critical piece to the Wolves shift from big bats to defense and pitching. Beyond the ability to play any position on the field, when Mitch gets hot at the plate watch out. His 2012 season had him knock in 42 runs as he filled the 3 hole for every game on the season. His key play towards the end of 2013 was a major reason why the Wolves rolled all the way to the Regional Championship game. He also holds the distinction of having the grossest and dirtiest moustache in team history – on multiple occasions!
Outfield – Jason Reitenbach (2007 – 2009): 62 GP, 0.422 BA (team record), 81 hits, 77 runs (3rd all-time), 14 doubles, 9 triples (2nd), 46 RBI, 47 BB, 31 SB (3rd), 0.540 OBP, 0.604
If it was possible for me to calculate a player’s WAR (a new age stat to calculate a player’s worth in terms of offense, baserunning, and defense) I’m not sure I could find anyone better than Jason. His impact on the game was so obvious on a day in and day out basis. He never took a play off and never let a pitcher off the hook. He had a great arm in the outfield and was a menace on the bases. He had an attitude on the field that downright intimidated opponents and was a great team player. Jason’s 2009 season still goes down as one of the best in team history when he finished with a 0.493 batting average. To put that in perspective – it’s still nearly 40 points higher than #2 in team history! Jason’s also that type of player who could probably stil play at the same level after 3 years off.
Pitcher – Dan Yaniga (2006 – 2009): 106 GP (5th all-time), 92 hits (6th), 16 doubles, 46 RBI, 49 GP (3rd), 193 IP (3rd), 229 K’s (2nd), 14 wins (4th), 2.69 ERA; 2006 Team Cy Young; 2008 Team MVP
Dan teamed with E.J. and Jake to really take the Wolves to the next level and was probably the one “free agent” acquisition that propelled the Wolves to the top of the heap in Cleveland amateur baseball. Along with Jake, Dan was a very important 2 way player for the Wolves for several years. Dan never met a batter he didn’t want to strikeout and not many batters who met Dan could get the better of him. Dan’s 2006 season on the mound in which he posted a 0.88 ERA still stands as one of the best in team history, while his 2009 season overall – get ready: 49/112 (0.437 BA), 10 doubles, 26 RBI, 0.492 OBP, 4 wins, 2 saves, 16 games pitched, and 73 strikeouts in 58 innings. Not a bad stat line! Dan also was a competitor on the field that never backed down from a situation. On top of his on field dominance, Dan was also one of the great friends I’ve gained over the 10 years of the Black Wolves!
Outfield – Joe Bailosky (2006 – 2008): 80 GP, 0.350 BA (9th all-time), 79 hits, 12 doubles, 46 RBI
Joe quietly put together quite a career in a Black Wolves’ uniform. He just went out and hit – and after a 2007 season that saw Joe hit 0.444 and career that saw him strikeout only 20 times in over 260 plate appearances, Joe has earned his spot on the all-decade team. While Joe fell short of his personal goal of hitting a bomb in a Wolves uni it’s probably because all he did was hit line drive after line drive. Joe wasn’t flashy but could definitely be counted on to get a hit and get on base when it was needed. Joe’s consistency is what has made him one of the best to every play for the Wolves!
2nd Base – Kevin Keogh (2004 – 2007): 338 AB (3rd all-time), 60 runs (7th), 104 hits (3rd), 19 doubles, 5 triples, 62 RBI (6th); 2006 and 2007 DPOY
Flame on! The master of the bloop single, Kevin is one of the original Black Wolves and still sees his name littered all over the record book. Kevin’s best attribute was his defense though. A rock at 2nd base and also capable at 3rd base, Kevin was solid wherever we put him. It also seems like we put him in the 2-hole of the lineup and he didn’t move for 4 years. Keogh, who spent time in school on the west coast and in Hawaii brought a very laid back and calm style to the Wolves back here in Cleveland. That calm presence in the lineup rubbed off on the other players and it translated in to a relaxed approach to the game for the whole team.
Pitcher – Anthony Sambula (2009 – 2013): 54 GP, 58 hits, 17 doubles (5th all-time), 11 HBP, 34 GP (3rd), 123 IP (5th), 183 strikeouts (3rd), 13.4 K/9 (1st), 15 wins (3rd), 1.77 ERA (3rd); 2012 Team MVP, 2013 Kyle Dunn Award Winner
Anthony, the latest top-notch two way player for the Wolves, has set the tone for the last two championship clubs for the Black Wolves. A born leader and motivator, Anthony is the undeniable engine of the Wolves both at the top of the lineup and when he’s mowing batters down on the hill. There is a distinct difference in energy of the team when Anthony is and is not in the lineup. Despite being the top lefty on the staff, there’s not use telling Anthony to take it easy in the field or when he’s running the bases because he only has one gear. Anthony, who has 3 regional wins over the last two years, handed two teams their first loss this year – first the Lake Erie Buckeyes in the Berea 4th of July Tournament and then the eventual NABF World Series Champion Pittsburgh St. John's Lefty’s. The win over the team from Pittsburgh happened to also be their only loss all year. In this game, Anthony had what may have been his gutsiest performance where he admittedly didn’t have his best stuff but got out of jam after jam before turning the game over to the bullpen. That performance kept the team’s season alive even though he had to immediately leave for his wedding shower! I definitely needed a TISSUE after that game!!
Shortstop – David Vitko (2008 – 2009): 72 GP, 0.383 BA (6th all-time), 88 hits, 69 runs (5th), 17 doubles (5th), 5 triples, 2 homeruns, 55 RBI, 36 SB (2nd), 2009 Defensive POY
David was about as consistent and solid as they come. A silent assassin, Vitko just raked for two straight years before retiring as the top shortstop in team history. An equally effective 2nd baseman, Vitko, despite his large build was as about a smart a base stealer as there was – which was obvious during his 2009 campaign when his finished with a still team record 29 stolen bases and 41 runs. A reliable performer, David was just always there and always made an impact.
Designated Hitter – Bobby Suitca (2010 – 2012): 85 GP, 0.328 BA, 85 hits, 25 doubles (3rd all-time), 8 homeruns (team record), 60 RBI (7th), 1 playoff walk-off homerun (1st and only in team history), 2011 Team MVP
Bobby, always one to downplay his own accomplishments, swung about as hard and viciously at a baseball as you’ll ever see… and when he connected – get the tape measure out. There’s a lot that can be said about Bob, including his team record 6 homeruns in 2010, but all the best way I can sum up Bobby was his final at bat of the playoff series against the Fairview Marlins in 2011. The series was tied 1-1 and we were 3 outs away from being eliminated from the playoffs and ending our Championship dreams. Chris Eggleton cruised through 6 innings for the Marlins before walking Kurt Gamby to start off the bottom of the 7th. The Marlins coach decided to pull Eggs in favor of a lefty to face the left handed and free swinging Bobby Suitca. As the pitcher was warming up Bobby walked slowly down to me in the coach’s box and said, “Coach, want me to bunt?” That’s what I loved about Bob – he’s my 4 hole hitter and he just wants to get the tying run in scoring position. Of course, I told him he’s nuts and to go win us the game. What does he do? Hits the first pitch about 380 feet and well over the right field wall at Talty Field. Easily the most memorable win I’ve had while coaching in that 3rd base coach’s box. Needless to say, Bob got a huge hug after the game. And also of note, with Bob came one of our greatest fans in 10 years – Mrs. Suitca!
Outfield – Alex Johnson (2009 – 2010, 2013): 68 GP, 88 hits, 69 runs (6th), 17 doubles (5th), 9 triples (2nd), 3 homeruns (4th), 64 RBI (5th), 26 SB, 2009 Team MVP
Difference maker – that’s what A.J. is to the Cleveland Black Wolves. To best capture that effect, look no further than Alex’s first game back with the Wolves this season. With the Wolves down 2 in the bottom of the 7th, Alex came to the plate with 2 outs and Bryan Miller on 2nd. Everyone’s first thought was that AJ would hit a bomb to tie the game, but where he is a true difference maker is what came next. Alex hit a single to knock in Miller and on two throwing errors that would’ve left a less aggressive and skilled baserunner on 2nd base allowed for Johnson to race all the way home to score the tying run. The Wolves would go on to win the game in the bottom of the 9th. During Alex’s record breaking 2009 season (team records 53 hits and 45 RBI), he made what still stands as the most critical defensive play in Wolves history. Against the Bedford Bearcats in the playoff championship, Alex raced back and made a diving over the shoulder catch in the 7th inning on a ball that was absolutely crushed to save the game for the Wolves and send them to the NABF Regionals. Of course, there was the 3 run homerun in the Regional semi-final win over the Lake Erie Buckeyes that propelled the Wolves in to the championship game. But that’s Alex – speed, defense, power – always making an impact on the game.
Pitcher – Mike Herringshaw (2009 – 2013): 64 GP (2nd all-time), 374 IP (team record), 276 strikeouts (team record), 33 CG (team record), 47 wins (team record), 1.37 ERA (2nd), 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 Team Cy Young
We can talk all day about Mike’s stats. We talk about how Mike owns 5 of the top 7 seasons in team history for wins by a pitcher – including the team record of 12 in 2009. The stats don’t tell the story though – despite what Mike thinks. Mike’s addition to the Black Wolves has easily been the most important in the team’s 10 years. The reliability and steadiness that he’s provided for 5 years – knowing that you can hand the ball to someone every 3 or 4 days if needed and he’ll give you a win over 85% of the time is pretty calming. Almost like bookends, two stories explain a lot about Mike. The first has been told a lot – 2009 playoffs, on Wednesday Mike tossed a complete game shutout in the semi-finals over the Lake Erie Buckeyes to eliminate them – no big deal, one of several shutouts for Mike that year. What comes next is the impressive part. The next night we were scheduled to face the Bedford Bearcats in the Championship game. That season we were 26-1 with our only loss coming to Bedford. We had gambled with our pitching staff in our loss against Bedford and got burned. We wouldn’t make the same mistake twice. I asked Mike if he could take the ball on ZERO days rest and give me a start. No hesitation – he said yes. The next night he came out and tossed 4 shutout innings before turning the ball over to All-Decade Team Relief Pitcher Branden Stucky who finished the 2-1 win and punched our ticket to Regionals. No doubt ever crossed our mind. Then let’s fast forward to 2013 – Championship Series. The Lake Erie Buckeyes had pounded team after team this season with their stacked lineup, and here comes Mike Herringshaw, who at the time (even though I didn’t know it) didn’t have the strongest right arm he’s ever had. So he comes out and gets the Buckeyes to hit his pitch in nearly every at bat for 7 innings on route to a 1-hit shutout to clinch the league title. I think Bryan Miller had 17 assists in that game. This was part of a season in which he gave up only 4 earned runs in over 62 innings en route to an 8-1 record. Great pitcher, intelligent baseball player, amazing competitor.
3rd Base – Kyle Dunn (2008 – 2012): 170 GP (team record), 0.355 BA, 473 AB (team record), 95 runs (team record), 168 hits (team record), 21 doubles (3rd all-time), 97 RBI (team record), 73 BB (team record)
The Black Wolves couldn’t exist without Kyle Dunn. Literally. After the 2007 season the Black Wolves were without a leader and Kyle Dunn stepped in. What ended up being a great match for the both the Wolves and Dunn’s turned in to the Cleveland baseball dynasty that has been on the field the last 4 years. A leader by example, Kyle rarely played completely healthy but still played hard and never took a night off. As consistent as they come, the lowest Kyle’s batting average in a season ever got was 0.339 and he finished with his best in 2012 at 0.387. As good as Kyle was at the plate, he was just a solid and reliable in the field. While he wouldn’t wow you with his range, Kyle caught everything hit his way and put every throw on the money. A great baseball person, Kyle was a fit with the Black Wolves and their approach to the game from day one. I, personally, am grateful to have met Kyle, his brother, and his father. We wouldn’t be talking about an all-decade team without them. The consummate Black Wolf – even if he did spend a season in Titan blue!
Pitcher – Nate Dick (2008 – 2013): 66 GP (team record), 341 IP (2nd all-time), 177 strikeouts (4th all-time), 25 CG (2nd), 38 wins (2nd), 4 saves (3rd), 2.22 ERA (6th), 0.476 SLG% (seriously, look it up), 2008, 2011, & 2012 Team Cy Young
Nathan. Dick. The longest tenured Black Wolf at 6 seasons, Nate goes with the Black Wolves like peanut butter goes with jelly. The growth shown by Nate from 2008, the summer after his redshirt freshman year at Cleveland State, and 2013 was pretty staggering. Along the way he’s teamed with Mike Herringshaw to create the top 1-2 pitching punch in Cleveland over the last half decade. Their healthy competition with each other, while rooted in the team’s success the entire time, has been a source of entertainment and also winning the entire time. Nate was that type of player that always saved his best performances for late in the season when the year was on the line – as proven by his 10 inning win in the 2012 Regional Win or when he sent national powerhouse Pittsburgh St. John’s packing in the 2011 Regional in Buffalo. He also developed in to that player who does whatever it takes to make the team successful. When discussing strategy heading in to the Championship Series this year it was decided that Nate would pitch out of the bullpen. After 6 years of starts he could’ve decided that wasn’t for him – but all he wanted to do was beat the Lake Erie Buckeyes. So he ended up getting the save in the 7th inning of game 1 of the series when the Buckeyes were starting to put together some momentum. Then, including starting a win over the Steel City Black Sox at Regionals this year, Nate pitched in 4 straight games over 3 days. He picked up 2 enormous saves along the way and very fittingly, was the last pitcher to see the mound for the Wolves this season. It’s fairly likely that Nate couldn’t feel his arm by Sunday afternoon and probably could barely move by Monday morning – but he’s that rare player you get who puts his 18 and over baseball team above himself. You don’t get many of those – even when you see ten years’ worth of rosters come through. I’ve been lucky enough to get more than I probably deserve of that type of player. Players like this make writing recaps like this very easy. Nate Dick – easily the most enjoyable player I’ve been able to coach in 10 years with the Wolves.
2013 Cleveland Black Wolves
The Cleveland Black Wolves ended their season yesterday with a 4-1 loss in the Pittsburgh NABF Regional Final to Pittsburgh St. John's. St. John's was the national runners-up in 2012. Just one day earlier the Black Wolves gave St. John's their first loss of the season in Regional Semi's.
The season was highlighted by a 31-8 record, their 4th straight League Championship by sweeping the Lake Erie Buckeyes, and their second Berea Independence Day Classic Championship (also over the Buckeyes).
A full season recap will be coming soon, but in all, 2013 (it's 10th) will be marked as the team's best season yet.
2012 Team Awards
Mitch had a breakout season this year for the Wolves after a big Spring for John Carroll. He took the 3-hole in the Wolves’ lineup on day 1 and never gave it up en route to a .364 batting average with 40 hits and 27 runs. Mitch made the most of his 40 hits by racking up 42 RBI which is 2nd highest total in team history. Mitch had a number of big games as he had 6 games of 3 or more RBI!
On top of driving in runs, Mitch was also a problem on the bases for opposing defenses as he collected 13 stolen bases on the season. Although overshadowed by his offense, it can’t be emphasized enough how important Mitch was to the Wolves’ defense. He played all over the field at 2B, 3B, SS, and CF. He excelled at every position and his versatility in the field is very valuable.
Anthony Sambula – P/1B/OF
Anthony had one of the great all around seasons in Wolves’ history this year as he made his impact with his hustle, offense, pitching, defense, and most of all his leadership.
Sambula was the team’s lead off hitter when he was in the field or DHing and he ended up leading the team with a .395 batting average and 14 doubles (tied for the team record for a single season). The lineup was on a different level when Anthony was setting the table. He finished the season with 34 hits, 26 runs (2nd on team), and 15 RBI.
Equally as valuable on the mound, Anthony finished the season with a 5-2 record, 1.09 ERA, and 71 strikeouts in 38 innings. Sambula took the ball in big games for the Wolves all season and ended up the season with 2 no hitters – which is the most in team history!
Anthony was a leader with his play and with his passion on the field!
Nate earned his 3rd Cy Young award this year by going 8-1 with a 2.46 ERA over 65+ innings. Nate’s Black Wolves career has spanned 5 seasons now and he has accounted for 52 games pitched, 33 wins, 157 strikeouts, 284 innings, and 21 complete games.
Dick finished the season strong this year with a 0.86 ERA in 41 innings overs his last 6 starts. The included his 10 inning gem in Regionals in which he picked up his 2nd straight victory in the NABF tournament. The 10 inning complete game is the longest in Wolves’ history.
Mike has spent 4 years with the Cleveland Black Wolves and has now won 4 Cy Young awards for the Cleveland Black Wolves. 2012 was no exception as he continued to be a top line starter for the team. He finished the season 8-2 with a 2.25 ERA with 49 K’s in 81 innings. He was also, once again, on the mound for many of the Wolves’ big games as he won 2 games in the League Playoffs including the League Title clincher. Mike’s best game of the year may have been at Regionals when he went the distance (giving up one run) in a losing effort to the Michigan Area Braves which is one of the top teams in Michigan.
At the same time as being a full time Manager on the squad, Mike also extended his team records to 39 wins, 53 games pitched, 311 innings pitched, and 28 complete games. He is also 7 strikeouts short of the team record with 223.
Defensive Player of the Year
Z can take a pitch, as evidenced by his team record 18 HBP this season, but he can also catch and throw the ball. Z was the team’s shortstop from day one and his play was solid throughout the season. Consistently providing superior range and top notch reliability, Z for 2 years now has given the Wolves no reason to worry about the most important defensive position in the field.
2011 All-League Selections
Team / Pos / Player
Lake Erie Buckeyes / C / Josh Gaub
Fighting Flamingos / C/OF / Matt Crossland
Cleveland Black Wolves / 3B / Bobby Suitca
Ohio Cardinals / SS / Mike Danziger
Bedford Bearcats / SS / Anthony Manco
Bedford Bearcats / 2B / Paul Birk
Fairview Marlins / INF / Andrew Quiles
Fairview Marlins / 1B / John Mastronicloas
CMCB-Uncle Ben's / 1B / Jordan Tucker
Winking Lizard / 1B/3B / Dan Hudeck
Cleveland Chiefs / Jay Ambrozic
Steve's Sports / 1B / Jerry Long
Steve's Sports / Casey Roch
Fighting Flamingos / P/3B / Aarron Hullswitt
Fairview Marlins / P / Ryan Virtue
Cleveland Black Wolves / P / Mike Herringshaw
Cleveland Black Wolves / P / Nate Dick
Bedford Bearcats / P / Joe Bossard
ATC Spiders / P / Jared Lease
Lake Erie Buckeyes / P / Randy Munshower
Bedford Bearcats / C / Steve Mitch
Winking Lizard / C / Jordan Tufts
Fighting Flamingos / 1B / Andrew Nemechek
Lake Erie Buckeyes / 1B / Matt Brofman
Cleveland Black Wolves / INF / Tim Stinson
Cleveland Black Wolves / C/2B / Bryan Miller
Cleveland Black Wolves / OF / Matt Moormeier
Fairview Marlins / OF / Pat Fallon
Bedford Bearcats / OF / Evann Farren
Fighting Flamingos / OF / Robert Gabriel
Cleveland Chiefs / Brad Forward
Steve's Sports / 3B/SS / Vinny DiMarco
Steve's Sports / P/OF / Wayne Tyus
Ohio Cardinals / P / Mike Johnson
Fairview Marlins / P / Chris Eggleton
Fairview Marlins / P / Vinny Trivisonno
Bedford Bearcats / P / Chris Piscura
Lake Erie Buckeyes / P / Jay Yorty
2011 Season Recap
2011 was an odd season for the Cleveland Black Wolves. The team's final record was 35-15 and ended up being it's most successful in terms of championships (which is all that matters), but the season as viewed in pieces didn't look quite as good. There was the 0-3 start. There's the team batting average that is lower than any Wolves team since 2005. There were the times in which the team looked like "the worst baseball team in the country." But at the end of the day, the team won it's 2nd consecutive league championship, a Berea 4th of July Tournament, and reached the semifinals of the NABF Regional Tournament.
The team really came together as a group right around that 4th of July Tournament and played great defense, had timely hitting, and superior pitching, which drove them to the heights they reached. The accomplishments were capped off by a 2-1 dramatic Divisional Series win over the Fairview Marlins and a 2-0 sweep of CMCB in the Championship Series.
Defense was a huge part of the reason the Wolves were successful in 2011 and was a dramatic upgrade from the 2010 edition of the squad. Andrew "Z" Zenczak was incredible at shortstop all year as a replacement for last year's team defensive player of the year Chad Ulogar. Mitch Herringshaw played a huge roll as a utility man playing both middle infield positions very well while also providing stability to the Wolves outfield. Jordan Kraus hosed over half a dozen baserunners from left field, even though he's not an outfielder. Adam Dennison and Bryan Miller both played magnificantly from the catcher position.
Despite all of these solid contributions to the defense of the Wolves - Matt Moormeier wins this year's Defensive Player of the Year. Matt was incredible in centerfield this year and really made what was a weakness on the team not look like one. Possessing one of the best jumps on fly balls in the area, Matt caught everything he got his glove close to. Matt also had a couple of the biggest individual defensive plays in recent Black Wolves history with his homerun saving catch of Matt Brofman's deep fly in the Wolves victory over the Buckeyes in the 4th of July Tournament as well as his full extension catch in the team's final game of the year in Buffalo. Great job Matt!
For the first time in team history, the Wolves have 2 winners of the team's Cy Young. It will come as no surprise that Nate Dick and Mike Herringshaw earned the award this season. Both possessed ERA's under 1.50 and won 20 of the team's 35 wins on the season. Their "healthy" competition(s) drove the team's pitching staff all year long. This is Nate's second Cy Young and Mike's third. The two hold down the top 2 spots in nearly all career statistical categories for the Cleveland Black Wolves.
Lastly, the team's MVP award goes to Bobby Suitca. Bob has come a long, long way since 2010 and really showed in his final numbers. On top of leading the team in batting average, slugging %, OBP, and doubles - Bob also delivered some of the team's biggest and most clutch hits of the season. The biggest and most dramatic of which is also the biggest in Black Wolves history. In the bottom of the 7th, facing a 1-0 deficit in Game 3 of the Divisional Series, Bob came to the plate. Kurt Gamby had just walked, but the Wolves had been 1-hit to that point by Chris Egggleton. Eggleton was pulled in favor of a left handed reliever and Bob took the first pitch he saw over the right field fence for a walk off 2-run home run.
On top of all the incredible performances mentioned above, it's important to also mention the outstanding play of Tim Stinson. Tim played all over the field for the Wolves this year and was their most consistent bat in the middle of the lineup. Tim finished the season leading the team in at bats, hits, and RBI and was a very large reason the team was as successful as they were this year.
There were other great contributions to the team as well - Kurt Gamby, Matt Moormeier, Jordan Kraus, Matt Fritz, Matt Jurevicius (Mr August was better than Mr July - I wish we could've kept playing to see how good you could get!), Adam Dennison, Andrew Zenczak, Matt Wantz, Mitch Herringshaw, and Bryan Miller rounded out the core of the team. All played their part this season. Congratulations Wolves!
Cleveland Black Wolves - 2011 Season Preview
On top of a tougher league schedule, the Wolves will once again beef up their non league schedule against teams such as the Berea Blue Sox, Youngstown Roth Brothers, Akron Lasiks, Canton Stallions, Allegheny Athletics, and Shannon Fence – among others!
The Wolves as an organization are now entering their 8th season and have established themselves as one of the top amateur baseball clubs in Ohio and the entire country. Leading the Wolves in to battle will be General Manager and Head Coach Craig Siemen, along with Assistant Coach Kyle Dunn, and Pitching Coach Mike Herringshaw. The Wolves in 2011 will be Captained on the field by Kyle Dunn, Mike Herringshaw, and Chad Ulogar. The Cleveland Black Wolves have put together a record of 179-110-1 since the team’s inception and an impressive 151-67 since the team was taken over by Siemen in 2006. 2011 should only improve the stellar winning % put together by the Wolves since 2004.
The Black Wolves will have a couple of large shoes to fill on the offensive side with the losses of clean up hitter Bill Gerstenslager (New York Collegiate League) and lead off hitter Tyler Rost (Graduation) but the additions to the squad should improve the overall depth of the offense, the overall team speed dramatically, as well as depth in the infield, all of which were a hindrance to the team all of 2010.
Returning behind the dish is James Toland (Ohio Wesleyan) who hit .340 with 11 doubles for the Wolves in 2010. James carried the team at times offensively, and will be counted on to produce runs in the Wolves lineup when he is in it. He was also the preferred defensive option of the Wolves staff in 2010, and he consistently called a very solid game and neutralized the opposition’s running game.
Combining with Toland on what is undoubtedly the top Catching rotation in Northeast Ohio will be Adam Dennison (Eastern Michigan) and Bryan Miller (Ashland). Adam was the 57th best prospect in Ohio after his Senior year and will be plugged in to the middle of the Wolves lineup and be counted on to make up much of the production that the team will lose by the departure of Gerstenslager. Miller will also spend time behind the plate, as well as in the middle infield. He will be one of the many candidates that may end up in the leadoff position in the lineup to replace the steady Rost.
The Infield’s defense will be drastically improved in 2010 with the additions of Timmy Stinson (Walsh University), Mitch Herringshaw (Mary Washington), Andrew Zenczak (Heidelberg), and Miller. They will compliment returning Third Basemen Kyle Dunn (Lorain Community College) and Bobby Suitca (Malone) as well as Shortstop Chad Ulogar (Thiel College).
1st Base will be handled by a combination of Suitca, Bob Seda (Lake Erie College), and Matt Wantz (Erskine College). Suitca, who will also play 3B, and can catch when needed, has been hitting very well out of the cleanup position in the Malone lineup, and will more than likely assume that spot in the Wolves lineup for 2011. Suitca shattered the Wolves single season record for HR’s with 6 in 2010, and with another year of at bats and confidence to build on, Bobby is primed to have a very productive summer for the Wolves. Seda, who will also see time in the OF, will provide a consistent bat to the
Wolves lineup, and will be an excellent addition to the club. Wantz, who can also play OF and will be one of the main Designated Hitters for the club, has as much power potential as any player to put on a Wolves uniform.
2nd Base looks to be split between Herringshaw and Zenczak, who will both see time in the Outfield when not at second. Both are young players who are primed to take over starting positions at national powerhouse D3 programs in 2012. EXTREMELY solid gloves here, and looks to be the biggest upgrade of any position on the field. Both are potential replacements for Rost at the top of the lineup.
Chad Ulogar returns for his second season at Shortstop with the Black Wolves and will once again be counted on as a run producer in the Wolves lineup. Chad hit .360 with 10 doubles and 23 RBI in 2010 and should be able to continue down that path in ’11. On top of being a top bat in the lineup, Chad’s glove in 2010 was the best the Wolves have ever seen at Shortstop. With the additions around him in the infield, what was the glue to the Wolves defense in 2010 should be something that puts them over the top in 2011. With more depth in the infield in 2011, Chad will also be able to help the Wolves bullpen this summer as well.
Stinson, who hits out of the 3-hole for Walsh University, will see most of his time at 3B for the Wolves but will also play Shortstop and 2B. Tim will be counted on to be a run producer in the middle of the Wolves lineup. Also playing 3B, besides Suitca, will be Dunn, who is returning for his 4th year in the Red and Black. Kyle, who is 24 hits away from being the Club’s all time leader, will be a much needed veteran presence in the dugout and on the field. Dunn will also spend time as one of the team’s Designated Hitters.
This year will see an entirely new Outfield for the Wolves. Bradley Morrison (Notre Dame College), Matt Moormeier (Marietta College), Tom Charles (Wheeling Jesuit) and Matt Jurevicius (Wabash Valley College) look to be the mainstays while Herringshaw, Zenczak, and Seda will also spend time out there.
With this group, Defense and Speed will once again be major improvements, as the only mainstay (Tyler Rost) from 2010 has moved on. The Wolves expect good defense and steady production in the lineup from this group. Jurevicius has the potential to be a difference maker in the Wolves lineup.
Mike Herringshaw (Grove City College) and his 20 career wins will be back at the top of the Wolve’s rotation in 2011, but beyond that, there are a lot of opportunities for the almost entirely new pitching staff. And a lot of question marks.
Bill Michaels (Buffalo University) looks to have a hold on another spot in the rotation right now but the rest is up for grabs with a lot of viable possibilities battling for those spots. Michaels is a big righty who was the 42nd ranked prospect in Ohio last year.
Behind those 2 will be veteran Andrew Bales (Washington and Jefferson), Brett Gaj (Baldwin-Wallace), Ryan Reinsel (Kent State), JR Osborne (Ohio Wesleyan) and DJ Stastny (Lake Erie College). In addition, 2011 looks to mark the return of Black Wolves' legend Dan Yaniga. Dan was possibly the most important piece to the Wolves growing in prominence among Cleveland amateur baseball.
One thing is for sure – with close to 50 games on the schedule once again in 2011, there will be no shortage of innings. Whether in the rotation or out of the bullpen, the Wolves staff will get plenty of work.
In addition to those mentioned above, Chad Ulogar and Bobby Suitca (1.68 ERA and 0.60 WHIP in 2010) will work the back end of the Pen. They, and the others in the bullpen, will be counted on to replace the outstanding production of Branden Stucky (48 K’s, 48 IP, 9 saves, and 3 wins over 2009 and 2010) who’s status is up in the air as he is graduating this Spring from Heidelberg.
Additionally, as Nate Dick is putting together a very impressive Spring at Cleveland State thus far, it is expected that he will take a spot in the Great Lakes Collegiate League. Nate has been a mainstay in the Wolves rotation for the past 3 years and has won 16 games in that time.
1 – Mooremeier, Matt – OF – Marietta College
2 – Miller, Bryan – C/2B – Ashland University
3 – Dunne, Kyle – 3B – Lorain Community College
4 – Zenczak, Andrew – 2B/OF – Heidelberg University
5 – Wantz, Matt – 1B/DH – Erskine College
6 – Charles, Tom – OF – Wheeling Jesuit University
7 – Michaels, Bill – P – University at Buffalo
8 – Stinson, Tim – IF – Walsh University
9 – Ulogar, Chad – SS/RP – Thiel College
10 – Dick, Nate – SP – Cleveland State University (inactive)
11 – Suitca, Bobby – Utility/CL – Malone University
12 – Herringshaw, Mike – SP – Grove City College
13 – Herringshaw, Mitch – 2B/OF – Mary Washington University
14 – Toland, James – C – Ohio Wesleyan
15 – Morrison, Brad – OF – Notre Dame College
17 – Yaniga, Dan – P/OF – Hillsborough Community College
18 – Jurevicius, Matt - OF - Wabash Valley College
21 – Seda, Bobby – 1B/OF – Lake Erie College
23 – Gaj, Brett – P – Baldwin-Wallace College
24 – Bales, Andrew – P – Washington & Jefferson
27 – Dennison, Adam – C – Eastern Michigan University
31 – Stastny, D.J. – RP – Lake Erie College
32 – Fritz, Matt – P – Notre Dame College
33 – Stucky, Branden – P – Heidelberg University (inactive)
34 – Reinsel, Ryan – P – Kent State University
Black Wolves getting set to take the field in 2011!
The biggest news of the off season for the Wolves has been the naming of Mike Herringshaw as the team's Assistant Coach/Pitching Coach. He will be joining Craig Siemen and Kyle Dunn in leading the Wolves squad in 2011. Mike recently graduated from Grove City College as their all time leader in wins (23), appearances (65), and innings pitched (264). He is also the Wolves all time leader in wins (20) as well. Along with his duties as Pitching Coach, Mike will once again anchor the staff.
Check back for a lot more updates as the Wolves prepare for 2011!
Defensive Player of the YearChad Ulogar - Chad set the new standard that Defensive excellence for the Black Wolves should be judged by. His performanc with the glove in 2010 made a questionable defense good. His range up the middle, sure hands, and ability to make the impossible game kept the Wolves in countless games this summer, and won about 6 or 7 others for the team. Night in and night out, Chad made every play he should, and most of the plays he shouldn't have. To say that Chad Ulogar had the finest defensive season every by a player in a Wolves uniform wouldn't be a stretch, but to say that he had the most valuable in the history of the Club is a fact. Congratulations Chad!
Mike Herringshaw - Almost as easy of a decision as picking Ulogar for DPOY, Mike Herringshaw, the undisputed ace of the Wolves, is the team's Cy Young. After going 8-2, with 54 strikeouts and a 1.91 ERA in nearly 70 innings is the easy choice as repeat winner of the team's Cy Young. Mike is now #1 and #2 in the single season record book for wins and innings pitched. Add it all up, and Mike has gone 20-2 (#1 all time) with 108 K's (#3 all time), 13 complete games (#1 all time), only 27 BB, a 1.25 ERA (#1 all time), and a 1.05 WHIP (#1 all time) in 140 innings pitched (#3 all time). Pretty impressive numbers considering he pitched against the who's who in Cleveland Baseball (Ohio Titans, Berea Blue Sox, Steve's Sports, Lake Erie Buckeyes, and Fairview Marlins). Next season, Mike looks to put some of his club records out of reach. Congratulations Mike!
Most Valuable Player
Chad Ulogar - Usually, a players Defense doesn't make a big enough impact that it is taken in to consideration when naming a team's MVP... but in this case, it shot Chad Ulogar to the top of the list for the Wolves in 2010. Chad's offensive numbers weren't too shabby either... .360 batting average, 45 hits, 10 doubles, and 23 RBI. Chad didn't break any records in 2010, but his play game in and game out contributed the most to the Wolves winning 30 games and a CABL Championship. Some highlights that quickly come to mind are Chad single handedly beating Randy Munshower and the Lake Erie Buckeyes with a 2/3 performance with a 3B and 3 RBI on 6/2. Not to mention the bare handed play to throw out the last Marlin in the Playoff Clinching win in the last regular season game of the year. These are just two moments that contributed to an MVP season for Chad Ulogar! Congratulations Chad! Also, congratulations to Bill Gerstenslager, Tyler Rost, and Kyle Dunn who all made this year the most difficult choice in years for the Wolves 2010 MVP!