'Respectable' Charger baseball season

Mindy Carls

Because of their tremendous work ethic, Orion’s varsity baseball team compiled a “very respectable” 22-9 record, coach Bryce Palar said.

The Chargers defeated the Annawan-Wethersfield Titans 9-1 and the ROWVA Tigers 10-5 to win the ROWVA regional.

It was the first regional title in Palar’s three years with the team.

Orion fell 3-2 to Tremont in the Bloomington sectional semifinal at Illinois Wesleyan University.

The Chargers were 8-4 in Olympic Conference play, their best record under Palar.

It was a young team, with only four seniors—second baseman Lucas Grymonprez, outfielder and first baseman Ian Cooper, shortstop and pitcher Josh Hutton and first baseman and pitcher Cody Williams.

Hutton and Williams were unanimous All-Conference selections, while Cooper received honorable mention.

At the team’s postseason banquet, Hutton carried off one of the Most Outstanding Pitcher plaques. He had a 7-2 record with two saves and an ERA?of 2.39. He struck out 55.

He hit .326 with a .437 on-base percentage.

Williams hit .359 with an on-base percentage of .421. He drove in 26 runs.

He compiled a 3-4 record with two saves and two complete games on the mound, but he deserved a better record, Palar said. Three of his four losses were by one run. 

Williams had an ERA?of 2.57. He struck out 48.

Grymonprez earned the Golden Glove plaque. At second base, he had only three errors.

His on-base percentage was .348.

Cooper batted .312 and had an on-base percentage of .396. He collected 26 RBIs.

Orion has a lot coming back for next year, starting with the 2009 Most Outstanding Player, junior James Matson.

He also received plaques for Most Outstanding Pitcher, Most Outstanding Hitter and Coaches Award, and he earned a unanimous selection on the All-Conference team.

On the mound, Matson had a 6-2 mark with a 2.45 ERA. He whiffed 50 batters and walked only 12.

When not pitching, Matson played outfield.

At the plate, he hit .442 and drew 22 bases on balls. He led the Chargers in all offensive categories except one.

Juniors on the 2009 team included Derrick Andrae, Drew West, Jake Dahl and Jared Simmer.

Late in the season, West earned a spot in the outfield. He also earned two decisions on the mound, going 2-0 with a 1.24 ERA?in 11 1/3 frames.

Dahl was a role player often called on to serve as a pinch runner or courtesy runner. He hit .263.

A basketball injury kept Simmer off the diamond and in the dugout in 2009, but he should be back next year.

Palar put several sophomores in starting positions, including Trevor Peterson at third and Jake Johnson and Kyle Solomonson behind the plate.

A unanimous All-Conference selection, Peterson had a .940 fielding average on the hot corner. 

He hit .359 with a .425 on-base percentage.

As a pitcher, Johnson had a 3.4 ERA?in 16 1/3 innings.

He batted .295 with a .358 on-base percentage. 

Solomonson played in 23 games with a .271 batting average and a .364 on-base percentage.

Partway through the season, Hougland earned a starting spot in the outfield. He hit .299 with an on-base percentage of .447.

He received the Most Improved and Mr. Hustle plaques at the postseason banquet.

Sophomores on the team also included Danny DeBacker and Payton Keller.

DeBacker hit .227 with three stolen bases. He was used as a pinch runner.

Keller had a tremendous year as a pitcher, Palar said. In 19 frames during 11 appearances, he had a 1.47 ERA. His record was 2-1 with one save.

Freshmen seeing time in games were Kyle Hoffman and Tanner Williams.

Hoffman broke into the lineup two-thirds of the way through the season. He hit .321 with an on-base percentage of .396.

Williams appeared in 14 games, often running the bases.