Game Of A Lifetime For Perrysburg's Borer


Bruce Hefflinger
PBR Ohio Senior Writer

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Game Of A Lifetime For Perrysburg's Borer

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Luke BorerPERRYSBURG - It has been a week since Luke Borer did something that nobody in the history of high school baseball has ever accomplished.

The Perrysburg junior has been a popular interview since hitting a home run cycle on April 15 against arch-rival Anthony Wayne.

“It’s been crazy,” Borer admitted. “I’ve probably had 15 interviews since Monday. It’s been hectic, but I’ve enjoyed every bit of it.”

There have been stories on Yahoo and in USA Today. Twitter and instagram have spotlighted the four-home run game by the uncommitted junior. In addition to local newspaper and television interest, there was also an interview with the Cincinnati Reds broadcasting network.

“This means a lot,” Borer said. “It’s a representation of all the hard work I put in during the offseason.

HOME RUN CYCLE

The 6-0 175-pounder, who is the 62nd ranked player in Ohio’s 2020 class, gave a small glimpse of what was to come hitting the second pitch of the game for a home run over the center field fence.

A blast to left for a three-run homer followed in his second AB before a pop out on plate appearance number three.

The third home run came on Borer’s next trip to the box, a two-run shot to left-center field.

Then came the dramatic fifth at-bat for Borer. With the bases loaded, he walked to the plate as fans and teammates looked on with anticipation.

“I knew it was an opportunity for a grand slam … to achieve what I did, but I also wouldn’t have been surprised if they intentionally walked me since it was a close game,” Borer reflected.

His teammates were watching with excitement.    

“I don’t remember the first pitch, but we were all up against the fence with eyes wide open,” remembered teammate Nathan Ball. “When he hit it there was no question. It was the best hit of all of them. After that it was chaos. The adrenaline was insane.”

It was a moment that Borer, obviously, will never forget.

“I remember thinking this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Borer said about what went through his mind as he was rounding the bases. “I probably will never experience this again.”

Borer did have one more at-bat in the game with the bases full, but popped out in his sixth and final plate appearance. That certainly did not lessen what Borer accomplished, especially in the eyes of his head coach.

“To be honest, when Perrysburg and Anthony Wayne play you never know what you’re going to get,” Perrysburg mentor Dave Hall said. “We were just trying to score runs. It just so happened that every time he hit a bomb it gave us a little cushion. The last one made it a 12-run lead but they cut it to eight and had the bases loaded. If not for a diving catch in the outfield by (Cam) Githens they’re down five and still batting.

“So what Luke did wasn’t just fun to watch, what he did was in pressure situations. If Anthony Wayne isn’t scoring all those runs, it’s over in five. But with the wind blowing out, no lead was safe. The home runs were not only unique, they scored runs we needed.”

HISTORIC DAY

Borer is reportedly just the third baseball player to ever hit for a home run cycle, the others taking place at different levels of play - one in the minor leagues (Class AA Arkansas Travelers’ Tyrone Horne in 1998) and one in college (Florida State’s Marshall McDougall in 1999 during a six-home run game). In February, it was done in college softball by Danielle Gibson of Arkansas.

“At the time I didn’t realize how rare it was, but after the fact I found out it was just the third time in baseball history and I was part of the game,” noted Ball, a senior standout for the Yellow Jackets. “Being able to experience it first hand was unbelievable.”

Borer overshadowed a game of a lifetime for Ball, who was a perfect 6-for-6 batting in the game to tie a state record for hits in a contest.

“It doesn’t matter to me,” Ball said about being overlooked on Borer’s big day at the plate during a 22-14 Perrysburg victory. “He had 10 RBIs, we probably wouldn’t have won the game without him. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be getting this publicity.”

Borer most certainly appreciates Ball, as well as his Perrysburg teammates.

“Nate deserves as much credit as I do, he tied a state record,” Borer said. “All our teammates knew what we both did and gave us a lot of attention of which I really appreciate.”

Doing it against Northern Lakes League rival Anthony Wayne, last year’s Division I state runners-up, made it even sweeter.

“One hundred percent,” Borer quickly responded when asked about the accomplishment meaning more against their league foe. “It was a close game throughout and definitely something special doing it against our number one rival ... and getting the win.”

HAVING A BALL

Nathan BallWatching Borer’s performance while pounding out six hits of his own is about as good as it gets according to Ball, a senior who was not even on the varsity a year ago but who now has a scholarship to play at Youngstown State.

“This year has been a dream come true,” admitted Ball, a 6-2 175-pounder ranked 110th in the state’s 2019 class. “I was on the varsity for three or four games last season but made an error on the base paths. I was the winning run on third but misread a ball to the outfield. I was sent back to the JVs after that.

“It was really hard to overcome, but there was nothing unfair about it. I had a lot of friends that had a similar situation as me and they quit. But I love my teammates and I loved the sport too much to quit. I just worked hard to get myself in the lineup and I’m doing pretty well.”

More like pretty great.

The left-handed hitting Ball is currently second on the Yellow Jackets in batting with a .452 average, trailing only - you guessed it - Borer, who is hitting at a .489 clip. Recruited as a pitcher, the southpaw is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 21.2 innings of work allowing eight hits and 10 walks while striking out 25.

Not bad for someone overlooked until the summer.

Ball’s first Prep Baseball Report event was the ACME/Legion Showcase where he was judged to have one of the Most Projectable Arms (along with Borer, who also was on the list for Best Swing). Participation in another PBR event followed shortly after as college interest began to develop.

“They saw me pitching at the PBR Unsigned Senior Showcase at Wright State,” Ball reflected about Youngstown State. “They sent me a text and wanted to know where I was in the recruiting process. I went to a camp there and I struck out all five batters that I faced. They invited me back for a visit, took me on a tour and a presentation and gave me an offer.”

Quite a ride for someone who was just hoping to be on the varsity for his senior year.

“Coach Hall does evaluations after every summer telling each player where they are at and where they need to get better,” Ball said about his high school coach. “He ranks everything from one to five with five being you should be a major league player and one meaning you’re really struggling and it will be tough to make the team. I had a four in speed but everything else was a one or two.

“But that just made me feel that I have to work harder to make the team. It’s all translated out well.”

Hall, a member of the Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, admits to being impressed with the improvement that Ball has made.

“He struggled for three years,” Hall said of Ball. “He’s always had the physical tools, it’s just been a matter of putting it together mentally. He’s done a 180. He couldn’t throw strikes last year and this year he’s handling tough situations.

“Some players are late bloomers,” Hall continued. “Some can walk in as a freshman and play and for some it’s a process. He’s not the first and he won’t be the last. It says something about his character, not wanting to give up. It’s a great attribute to have.”

ENJOYING THE MOMENT

While Ball has committed to college, Borer is still in the recruiting process. His recent performance has just added to those showing an interest in the potential two-way prospect.

“Most of those that have been in contact wrote me a note and said congratulations,” Borer said of the response he has received since the four-homer game. “It also peaked the interest of a few new ones.”

Where Borer ends up is still unknown.

“It’s going well right now,” explained Borer, a shortstop as well as pitcher. “I’m not saying who exactly until I announce it, but it’s moving along pretty well. I’m not sure of a timeline, but I definitely think it will be before the end of the year.”

As for the prospects of pitching or playing in the field, Borer is open to either.

“It’s different with each school,” Borer said. “I’m open for both, or just hitting or being a PO. Whatever they want, I’m okay with.”

That decision, however, is far away at the present time. For now, Borer was happy to enjoy helping his team win another game while staying atop the Northern Lakes League standings.

“I congratulated Nate and he did the same,” Borer said. “We’re pretty good friends and excited for each other. We’re both looking to keep it up. Right now we’re one-two in the league in hitting. We’re always competing but it’s friendly competition. We’re pushing each other to be better.”

Sharing those shining moments with family brought even more enjoyment. That was the case for Borer in meeting up with his parents following the game.

“What a great moment,” Borer said. “We’ve been through a lot together and they’re so proud of how far I’ve come. I don’t remember what was said, they both just hugged me pretty hard. What a moment that was.”

Everybody that witnessed the game said the same thing.