The Bartholomew County 12 and Under Little League baseball season didn’t end with a state title last week, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a success.
Following in the program’s tradition of excellence, the team won a district championship (defeating Bedford 2-1) and three games (against Brownsburg, Hagerstown and Wabash) in the state tournament before being eliminated in the state quarterfinals by Franklin Township, 2-1.
New Albany defeated Franklin Township in the semifinals and Highland in the championship game to become the state champion.
Even though this year’s team had great results, the players were disappointed when their season came to an end.
“The kids wanted to prove that they were something special, and they did just that,” BCLL head coach Steve Gilley said. “It was heartbreaking to see (the season end). When you watch kids that have put their heart into the game as long as they have, you want them to go out as champions.”
The success of the program dates back to 2009, when the BCLL team at that time coached by Dave Claycamp was one round away from making the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
Gilley said that kind of performance breeds more success.
“It’s amazing to see a team grow,” Gilley said. “We have guys from that team still come out and support the players, give them tips on how to play and keep them motivated.”
One of this season’s team members, Logan Brewer, obviously was motivated. He led the team with seven home runs, including four in the state tournament. He also led the team in batting average at .703.
“Before this season, I was terrible,” Brewer said. “I went to Up2Bat (Training Facility) on the south side of Indianapolis to get better, and all of the hard work paid off.”
Logan’s father, Eric Brewer, was proud.
“To see the work he, as well as the team, put in this season was amazing,” Eric Brewer said. “They just stayed dedicated to everything they did and gained a stronger bond with each other. It’s little things like that that will make a team better.”
Lance Greiwe, who hit .419, said developing close friendships on the team helped him.
“It was a great experience,” Greiwe said. “We bonded with each other and had fun competing with everyone.”
Lance’s father, BCLL assistant coach Keith Greiwe, said it was a privilege watching the players bond.
“They just knew how to come together,” Keith Greiwe said. “They grew before your eyes and became not just good but great baseball players.”
Keith Greiwe had gone through it before. His son, Brock Greiwe, who will begin his senior year at Columbus East next week, played for the 2009 BCLL team.
“To have my sons compete at this level helped them in sports,” Keith Greiwe said. “I couldn’t be more proud, as a father and as a coach.”
Some players will return to the team next season.
Kyler McIntosh, who is 11, said he hopes the wins keep coming.
“We made this a fun experience,” McIntosh said. “We have fun together as a group, but we want to win together. I can’t wait to do this again next summer.”
Steve Gilley’s son, 13-year-old Cole Gilley, posted a 6-1 record with four strikeouts as the team’s starting pitcher.
He said improving every week was the best part of the season.
“We wanted to get better,” Cole Gilley said. “We wanted to be hitting and throwing better, and we wanted to be the best in the state.”
Steve Gilley expects the 2015 squad to continue the tradition of success.
“Things are looking up,” he said.