Denmark's coaching staff told Smaran Ramanathan just the day prior that he would be the starting pitcher in Friday’s game that determined the region championship.
“I found out yesterday and I was thrilled,” Ramanathan said. “I knew the opportunity that I would have today. This was for all of us. I wouldn’t want to do this with any other guys. It’s something special.”
Ramanathan stepped up big for his teammates in his start, throwing a complete-game, seven-inning shutout against West Forsyth to give Denmark's baseball program a 6-0 win and its first region championship in the Danes' first full season as a Class 7A high school.
“Before the game, I was a little nervous, but as soon as the game started everything went away,” Ramanathan said. “We’ve got the best defense in the state so I know I can trust them all the time.”
Ramanathan struck out six Wolverines through seven innings, recording the last two outs of the game on punchouts. He allowed five hits, a walk and a hit by pitch.
Denmark coach Jamie Corr said after the game that the team had given Ramanathan the nickname ‘The Assassin’ since you never see him coming, and once you realize he’s there, he’s already gotten you.
“This team believes in me,” Ramanathan said. “It feels good when a coach gives you a nickname. I wouldn’t be known as that if it wasn’t for everyone around me.”
To lead off the bottom of the first inning, both Nic Ferrer and Teddy Davenport bunted their way on base for JJ Corr to crush a home run over the fence to give Denmark an early 3-0 lead.
“I just try to pick a pitch that’s hittable and hit it hard,” Corr said.
With an early lead, Jamie Corr continued to call the style of game he wanted. He gave runners green lights to steal bases and called hit-and-runs or bunts to advance runners to scoring position.
“I want to teach these guys that baseball is a team game,” Corr said. “Everybody has a part to play for us to be successful and we’ve really bought into that as a team.”
Davenport and JJ Corr each finished the game 2-for-3 and Jake Myers went 3-for-3 with a double, two singles and a run scored. JJ Corr drove in four of Denmark’s six runs and Brody Wheeler drove in Corr on an RBI single in the third inning.
Despite finishing 12-6 in Region 6-7A play, Denmark finished the regular season with an overall record of 15-14. Jamie Corr credited much of their success in region play to coach David Smart scheduling a tough non-region schedule this season.
“These guys were battle tested,” Corr said. “We knew that these guys would know exactly what to do when they came to situations like this.”
Denmark knows that its hot play is going to have to continue through the Class 7A state playoffs. JJ Corr said that their successful region play has been largely in part to their bond growing throughout the season.
“We’ve got to make sure we play for each other every day rather than play for ourselves,” Corr said. “We’ve had it before, but this season we truly are brothers.”
Denmark will host Duluth, the fourth-seeded team out of Region 7-7A, next week in the first round of the Class 7A playoffs.