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MAY 21, 2014 • CJN-MMA • A7

Rocket baseball takes family approach to success By Mark D. Motz



Sister Sledge sang about it. The Pittsburgh Pirates adopted it. The McNicholas High School baseball team lives it now. Some 35 years after Willie Stargell and Pirates made “We Are Family” a baseball anthem, the McNick team is chock full of second-generation Rockets, many of whose fathers once played with head coach John Christmann. Christmann - a 1985 McNick grad - is a second generation Rocket himself; his mom is long-time school nurse Mary Anne Christmann, class of 1956. He enjoys the family atmosphere on his team. “It means a lot to me as a coach,” he said. “It’s eas-

ier to talk to the parents when they already know me, when they know what I’m about. It’s always good to have that kind of support from your baseball families.” Among the players, sophomore Ryan Byrne’s dad Bobby Byrne was Christmann’s classmate and teammate in baseball and football. Likewise sophomore pitcher Sam Browning’s dad is Mike Browning (’86). Sophomore pitcher Chris Clark is the son of 1984 grads Mike Clark and the former Linda Dulle. Senior Will Mehring, junior Logan Jacobs and sophomore Will Vogelgesang also have McNick grads for parents. (Full disclosure: Jacobs’ father Mike (McNick ‘87) was a teammate of your humble scribe on some of the

worst District 5 Knothole teams ever assembled in the 1970s. “He doesn’t get (his talent) from his old man,” the elder Jacobs said of his son earlier in the spring.) All have played key roles for the 2014 McNick team. Byrne is the everyday catcher. Browning leads the squad and is second in the Greater Catholic League Coed with an 0.86 earned-run average. Clark has 11 strikeouts in eight innings of relief work while picking up a pair of saves. Mehring hits .375 and is tied for the team lead with 16 runs batted in. Vogelgesang hits .344 and owns a teambest 12 stolen bases. Jacobs has become a reliable clutch hitter and aggressive base runner. He drove in the tying run

when the Rockets trailed Hughes 1-0 in the fourth inning during the opening round of the Division II sectional tournament May 13. He doubled in the go-ahead run his next time up in the sixth. He came home with an insurance run on Mehring’s hit in a 3-1 Rockets victory. “Your main thought is to sit back on the ball and hit line drives,” Jacobs said. “Only good things can happen when you hit line drives.” Jacobs started playing ball at age 6 and hit his first legitimate over-thefence home run as a sixth grader at Tealtown Park. The Union Township resident said he’s always loved the game. “I can’t even describe it,” he said. “It’s just fun. It’s a good place to escape. You don’t have to worry



about any drama, just go out and play and have fun. I like to take opportunities (on the bases) when

they’re there. I like to make those extra plays to get my teammates fired up.”

SIDELINES Midnight Madness fishing tournament

Milford High School senior Jack Noll - seated center recently signed his letter of intent to wrestle for Heidelberg University. Noll grappled at 160 pounds for the Eagles in 2013-14. Parents Jane and Scott Noll flank their son. In back from left are brother Grant Noll, Milford head wrestling coach Pete Babinec and sister Emily Noll.THANK YOU TO MILFORD HIGH SCHOOL

McNicholas High School junior Logan Jacobs drove in the tying and go-ahead runs in a 3-1 sectional tournament win for the Rockets May 13 against Hughes.MARK D.

Lake Isabella is hosting Midnight Madness fishing tournaments from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., Saturdays, June 21 and July 19. Anglers can cast a line from either boat or bank as they try to catch the biggest fish in the lake. While teams can weigh in as many fish as they want, they can only have six in their possession at any one time and only the six largest fish will be counted toward their total weight tally. The top three teams will win trophies and Great Parks’

gift certificates. Whoever catches the single largest fish of the evening will win a Bass Pro Shops gift card. The all-night Midnight Madness tournaments are open to solo anglers or teams of two. The entry cost is $40 per team, which does not include boat rental. Boats are available for $11.50 on a first-come-first-served basis. Registration begins at the Lake Isabella boathouse at 8 p.m., with a pre-tournament meeting at 9:30 p.m. Lake Isabella is at 10174 Loveland-Madeira Road, Symmes Township,

Ohio 45140. A valid Great Parks of Hamilton County Motor Vehicle Permit ($10 annual; $3 daily) is required to enter the parks. Armleder and Fernbank Parks are cooperative ventures with the Cincinnati Park Board; a Motor Vehicle Permit is not required. Visit or call 513-5217275.

Sand volleyball leagues

The Cincinnati Sand Volleyball Club, 837 U.S. 50, Milford, is now forming leagues. Youth and high school leagues run from June 2

through July 26 and are offered for third grade and up. Teams consist of six people, any mix of girls and boys. The college league session runs from May 29 through July 20 and is designed to fit in with most school schedules. The following leagues are now forming: Monday - grades 3/4, 5/6, 7/8 and high school; Tuesday grades 3/4 and 5/6; Friday - high school; Sunday - college. Call 831-4252, email or visit to register.

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