Weber Baseball Wraps Historic Season

Weber Baseball Wraps Historic Season

The Rams compiled a 16-8 regular season record and earned the school’s first GHSA postseason appearance.

This spring, the Weber Rams varsity baseball team made school history by punching their first-ever ticket to the Georgia state tournament // Photo Credit: Weber School Athletic Department
This spring, the Weber Rams varsity baseball team made school history by punching their first-ever ticket to the Georgia state tournament // Photo Credit: Weber School Athletic Department

Apparently, they picked a good year to renovate The Weber School’s baseball field.

This spring, as the Rams took the field at their recently overhauled new ballpark, one now equipped with a robust drainage system, light poles, new foul poles, wind screens, and scoreboard, they made school history, going 16-8 in the regular season – the program has never amassed this many wins in a season – en route to their first-ever postseason appearance.

“I feel like it’s an amazing accomplishment to make history like this and something everyone is proud of,” said Weber baseball head coach Alan NeSmith, a former player at Fayette County High School and Sandy Creek High School who has been coaching baseball at Weber for nine years, the first seven of which as an assistant before he got promoted last season. “Our goal this year was to make the state tournament, with the ultimate goal to win a championship.”

While the ultimate goal didn’t materialize — Weber got eliminated by Crawford County in the quarterfinals — its remarkable turnaround from the past few seasons, during which they posted a 25-32-1 record, to this signature season, the pinnacle of the program’s 17-year history, is nothing short of remarkable. And, as evidenced by the early rounds of the state tournament, Weber, which made the switch from the Georgia Independent School Association (GISA) to the  (GHSA) in 2017, was worthy of a postseason berth.

In the first round three-game series against Darlington, Weber bounced back from a Game 1, 11-4, loss to take the final two games behind Josh Wolkin’s complete game shutout in Game 2 and freshman Jeremy Wolf’s 4.2 scoreless innings in Game 3. In the winner-take-all game, first baseman Isaac Brody knocked in the game-winning run to seal the 5-4 series-clinching victory.

Brody, named First Team All-Region as a pitcher this spring, has been saddled by nagging injuries and didn’t take the mound in Round 1. Against Jasper County in Round 2, he only pitched one inning, but the deep Rams’ roster was able to compensate for their ace’s absence by timely pitching from Wolkin, Wolf, Elan Lieberman, and reliever Sam Rosenthal, who recently returned from UCL surgery last season, and closer Danya Naturman.

Then, there’s the imposing lineup which was cranking throughout the second round against Jasper. During Game 1’s, 18-14, slugfest victory, five different players, including seniors Joshua Greenspon and Rosenthal, slugged homers. On the flip side, throughout the Jasper series, which concluded with a Game 2, 8-6, Weber win – and really the entire postseason – the Rams flashed some serious leather around the diamond, highlighted by Brody’s web gem of an unassisted double play at first base.

Maybe the best part of Round 2 was that Weber was the series host, so the school’s community was able to come out in full force to catch a glimpse of the burgeoning program.

“That was by far the biggest crowd in my nine years at Weber,” said NeSmith. “We had fans lined up and down the first and third base lines and people sitting on the wall behind the bleachers. Even though it was Passover break, students came out and were also an amazing support for the team. For the first round, we had family members travel to Darlington to cheer for us, but through all of the playoffs, our coaches and players have gotten messages and calls from people giving their support.”

Meanwhile, NeSmith believes the support he and his coaching staff, which includes his son, have received from their upperclassmen has been instrumental in piloting the Rams during this banner year. In particular, the quartet of captains – Greenspon, who plays catcher, Wolkin (he plays all over the diamond, not just pitcher), second baseman/pitcher Rosenthal, and center fielder/pitcher Ethan Goodhart – has been an extension of the coaching staff over the past few months.

“My captains have been amazing,” Weber’s head coach raved. “They’ve all played huge roles in our success this year and are leaders on and off the field. This group of captains has really made our jobs easier as coaches because we can always rely on them.

“The biggest reason is the kids buying into the culture change that no one player is greater than the team. That has helped us move to the ‘We Are One’ mentality. The team really understands that we have to work together to be successful and that means working hard during the season and the offseason. It takes that type of commitment to make the playoffs and compete for a state title.”

One of the great things about the Rams’ run is that their string of sparkling performances has coincided with Atlanta Braves’ ace Max Fried rebounding in dominant fashion from an uncharacteristically bumpy start. It is, in fact, impossible to overstate just how much of a monumental impact Fried has had on young local Jewish ballplayers such as Weber’s.

“Max Fried has made a huge impact in my life because he has shown me that as a Jewish athlete, I can be anything I want to be,” said Naturman.

Added Brody, “The way Max Fried is able to dominate at the highest level of baseball as a Jew is so inspiring for me and many other young Jewish athletes. The way his confidence and game are never shaken by other people’s words and actions is truly so cool to watch. I aspire to be in his position one day.”

Lieberman wholeheartedly concurred by explaining that “Max Fried is not only an ace, but an inspiration and hero to any Jewish baseball player who has aspirations of playing at the next level.”

Hours after his Game 2 masterpiece against Darlington, Wolkin joined his teammates for a seder to honor the second night of Passover before settling in to watch Fried hurl his own complete game shutout against the Miami Marlins. It was a baseball — and cultural — experience he will never forget for the rest of his life.

“Seeing Max do this on the same day as me gives me hope — as Jews and especially Israel are under constant pressure in today’s media — to be able to show out on the baseball diamond and represent our people especially on a holy day like the second seder of Passover,” said Wolkin.

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