COLUMBUS Harrison Central's journey into the post-season for baseball came to an end Friday at Huntington Stadium in Columbus but the fans who made the trip, while disappointed, were not unhappy about the experience.
Several had been in the OHSAA finals before when the high school in Cadiz was home to the Cardinals. Harrison Central Athletic Director Don Madzia had been to the semi-finals in 1986 as a sophomore. He recalled playing second base when eventual state champions Ottowa Hills defeated the Cardinals 2-1.
"I will never forget that day, Joe Chevront hit two triples in that game and we were known for our squeeze bunting that season," Madzia recalled. "But that day they caught us in the squeeze two times and we could not score him."
HARRISON?CENTRAL?fans flocked in droves to Columbus Friday to cheer on their Huskies in an Ohio Division II state semifinal contest at?Huntington Stadium.
"Today I came up here to see my little brother Derek coach in the game," Madzia said with pride. "He was just 6 years old the last time we were here."
Chuck Staten, whose son Nick was on the field catching for the Huskies recalled that same game when he played as a freshman short stop for the Cardinals.
"There was rain that year too, we did not get to play until 6 that night," Check recalled the game now 27 seasons ago. "I am very proud of Nick and told him to take it all in."
"I was just a kid and I guess I kind of took the experience for granted," the former Cardinal said. "I thought we would be right back the next year, but the farthest we ever made it after that was to regional my senior year."
"We played our game at old Bill Davis Stadium," Staten remarked that there were old railroad ties along the first base line to stop foul balls and no stands in the outfield. "It was nothing like the field here at Huntington Park, this place is beautiful. What an experience for these kids."
Staten was emotional as he mentioned coaching 6 of the starters on the Huskies in Little League.
Rick Ferri is a faithful Huskies follower and 1971 alumni of New Athens but a long-time Huskies Booster and was in the stands making his usual posts to his Facebook account of the games.
"Win or lose, it is such an exciting day for our school, Ferri said. "To see our program here in the State Final Four is just miraculous."
"I hope these kids have a ball today," Ferry said. "This is a once in a lifetime experience for most and something they will remember for the rest of their lives."
Many of the Huskies fans in attendance echoed his words. They stated that the news of the rain delay had reached them yesterday when they were just past Zanesville and had to turn around and head back to Cadiz.
It took some rescheduling and extra financial burden to repeat the trip with gas prices at the $4 per gallon mark. The Madzia's postponed a vacation and rescheduled a flight but sacrifice to attend the game is nothing new.
When the Cardinals went to the state finals in 1982 the seniors on the team had to miss graduation to play in the game.
As Jonathan Alder recorded the final out the fans all rose to their feet and gave one last round of applause to their Huskies. Ferri summed it up, "What a ride!"
On a side note Harrison Central teacher and Cadiz alum Jim Little will umpire in an afternoon game at Huntington Park, it is his third trip to the state finals as an umpire.