George Rogers Clark baseball coach Matt Ginter likes what the future holds for his program.
Ginter, a former major league pitcher and standout at the school, guided the Cardinals to a 20-14 record in his first season as coach. Clark, which won the 10th¿Region title and advanced to the state tournament for the first time in school history last season, lost to Bishop Brossart 2-1 in eight innings in the regional semifinals last week in Mount Sterling. The Mustangs defeated Harrison County in the regional final less than 24 hours following the narrow victory over Clark at Whitaker Field.
Ginter said the key to his team’s success this season was his confidence in the players.
“You’ve got to be able to relate to the players and talk to them,” he said. “They have to want to play for you. That’s the thing. The respect has got to be there and hopefully with my background, the respect was there and these kids, I think, learned a lot and overcame a lot. Some of these kids didn’t play a whole lot (last year) and became starters. They took it and ran with it.”
Ginter’s squad lost their first seven games, but recovered and went 20-7 to close out the season and won seven of their last nine, including six in a row before the season-ending loss to the Mustangs. Ginter added that the team’s early setback to superior competition led to his team’s success during the final two months of the regular season. Clark, which split a pair of games against Bourbon County, defeated the Colonels 5-3 to win the 40th District Tournament at Cardinal Field two weeks ago.
“(The kids) battled back and we played an extremely tough schedule,” Ginter said. “We’ll get a little break this summer and play a little summer, ball, hit it again and start working out in the fall. These kids learned a lot about baseball and think their baseball IQ is getting better. That’s what I told our juniors. we had a great group of seniors to pass the torch and (show them) how to play the game and respect the game and do what you’re supposed to do.”
Five of Clark’s 14 losses were against teams who will be competing in the state tournament beginning today at Whitaker Bank Ball Park in Lexington. Clark lost to 11th¿Region winner Woodford County twice (4-3 and 12-2), Powell County (8-6) and Pikeville (5-1) in the Hazard Invitational.
The Cards defeated 16th Region winner Ashland Blazer 12-2 in the Spectrum Graphics Classic at Mason County High School.
“I’ve told them all year, we’re three plays away from being one great baseball team,” Ginter said. “A¿play here or there and we’re there. I think it’s been a great stepping stone for this year and the years to come.”