NILES, Ohio (WKBN) – Just over four years ago, the Champion baseball team made history, winning the program’s very first state title.
Pitcher Drake Batcho and Catcher Michael Turner were two of the driving forces in helping the Golden Flashes bring the trophy back to the Valley.
“It was a blur, man,” Batch said. “That whole day was a blur. I loved it. It’s one of my best memories as a baseball player.
“Time flies. I feel like we just did it yesterday,” added Turner.
Their success in high school led them to the Division I college ranks.
Turner previously earned First Team All-MAC honors at Kent State, while Batcho took his 93 mile per hour fastball to Cincinnati. This year, they’ve been reunited as teammates with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers in the brand new MLB Draft League.
“It’s an awesome experience for sure, like you said,” Turner said. “Growing up here, I actually worked here when I was in high school. So, after the games I would come and watch and see some of the guys that have played here. Like, I watched Michael Brantley play here. So, to be able to put this uniform here on where some guys that were phenomenal players is really an honor in my opinion.”
“It’s a dream come true,” said Batcho. “Like you said, I’ve been to tons of these games growing up. I played here in high school, and played here in summer ball growing up as well. So, it’s good to be back home.”
But playing at home isn’t the ultimate goal. The purpose of the league is to help players make an impression on Major League scouts, in hopes of hearing their names called in the MLB Draft in July.
“This is the draft league for a reason. Everybody here has got the same goal in mind,” admitted Turner. “It is like that for college. But I think this is a select group of guys that are being seen as potential draft picks. So, I think, in the back of everybody’s mind, it’s to win, obviously. But, at the same time, it’s develop and show out in front of a lot of scouts that are here to see us.”
The Major League Baseball Draft begins on July 11.
“If I get my name called, that’s awesome,” Batcho said. “That’s obviously what I’ve been playing for. That’s what I dream of. But, I’m taking it one day at a time and enjoying every day.”