Last Wednesday night, the Oak Ridge Baseball team not only added two more wins to their record but also brought home the Class 1 District 3 Championship. The Bluejays (9-11) faced off with the Eminence Red Wings (1-11) and the South Iron Panthers (5-12), finishing with scores of 15-0 and 15-5.
This season has been full of surprises for the Bluejays. Not only did they claim their first district title since 2018, but they have also recorded the most wins Oak Ridge baseball has seen since the 2012 season.
Due to weather conditions, the Bluejays had to play back-to-back games Wednesday to be able to recover for their sectional game. However, the Bluejays had no issue playing consistent baseball in consecutive games. “They were prepared and had the goal of winning the district,” head coach Robert Friese said of the Bluejays efforts.
Oak Ridge was led offensively in both games by the impressive efforts of sophomore right fielder Kaden Borgfield. Borgfield hit a home run in both the semifinal and championship games. “There was a lot of excitement as these were the first two home runs hit this year, with that it just fueled us even more,” Coach Friese said.
In the team’s first matchup against the Red Wings, the Bluejays hit the 15-run rule in the bottom of the third inning. The team hit heavy throughout the lineup in the second inning recording a total of six hits, including three singles, a double, a triple and a home run. “All around the lineup hit well,” Borgfield said.
As for the championship game, the Bluejays shut down the Panthers in the bottom of the sixth inning. Oak Ridge capitalized on errors made by the Panthers, as freshman center fielder Jayden McAlister and Borgfield were able to reach home on errors in the third inning.
The Bluejays had no problem stepping up to the plate in the title game, racking up 15 hits to win. McAlister recorded a total of three singles in the matchup and brought home two runners.
Along with McAlister’s hits, sophomore shortstop Landon Overbey was able to get three hits from his three at bats and was brought home to score two runs.
The efforts at the mound helped secure the wins for Oak Ridge Wednesday night. Senior pitcher Tyler Bishop started off the night for the Bluejays and pitched a total of five innings between the two games. Throughout the games, Bishop struck out a total of eight batters and only gave up two runs.
Starting for Oak Ridge in the championship game was sophomore pitcher Cohen Hahs. He struck out three batters in the four innings he pitched and recorded zero errors. Hahs has had a standout sophomore season as the Bluejays ace, striking out a total of 34 batters in the 42 innings he has pitched.
The improvements from former seasons made by Oak Ridge this year have been in large part due to the coaching of Friese. Friese has been coaching the current seniors since their freshman year and continues to push the whole team around the clock.
When Borgfield was asked what built up to his homers in the district tournament, he said, “Probably just Coach Friese yelling at me, honestly.
As head coach of this team, Friese has had to make a lot of adjustments this season especially due to injuries causing the depth of the bench to shrink. For example, Borgfield has not only played multiple games this season in right field but also at third and second base. As well as Junior Konnor Hoebeck switching from center field to starting catcher.
When asked about playing multiple positions this season, Borgfield said, “It’s stressful at times not knowing what to do. I think I was versatile enough to make the right decisions when needed.”
Friese added, “Some players are getting more comfortable in positions, but it’s still growing pains for some of them in learning different spots. They’ve come together with it, and we’ve been able to figure out who needs to be where.”