Unbeaten Lake baseball hands Wilker special milestone

By: 
Mark Griffin

The spring of 1985 was an exciting time for Greg Wilker.
In the same year, you could have gone to see the Live Aid concerts in London or Philadelphia, bought a movie ticket for $2.75, or watched as Michael Jordan became the NBA Rookie of the Year. That was the year Wilker took over as the head baseball coach at Lake High School.
“I coached the jayvee team in 1983 and ‘84,” Wilker recalled. “Bob Brough was the varsity coach and he had been there for several years. He had a couple of young children and was ready to get out (of coaching) for a while. There was an opening there and I was the next man up. I was fortunate to take over a good program at a young age. Bob had some really good teams previously. He got back into coaching with me five or six years later as my JV coach. He had a great baseball mind.”
Thirty-five years after landing the job, Wilker is still the coach at Lake. Last Saturday, his Flyers hammered Wauseon, 20-2, giving Wilker his 600th career victory. The Flyers beat Elmwood, 5-0, on Monday to improve to 7-0 and 1-0 in the Northern Buckeye Conference.
Wilker’s record stood at 601-344 and counting, prior to Wednesday’s game against Genoa. He was three wins shy of becoming the 16th winningest baseball coach in Ohio High School Athletic Association history. Wilker, 57, said his players knew he was one win from No. 600, so they went out and scored nine runs — all with two outs — in the first inning against Wauseon to put the game away early.
“I don’t pay that much attention to the numbers,” Wilker said. “That’s more important to the kids and it’s nice for the program. I told my assistant coaches I was glad to get it out of way before league play. A big crowd was there and it was a beautiful day.”
Wilker taught business at Lake for 35 years before retiring last year, and he’s coached the offensive and defensive lines for the football team for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2014.
Under Wilker, the Flyers have won nine league/conference championships, 21 sectional titles, six district titles and one regional title. His 2001 team lost to Youngstown Ursuline, 6-1, in the Division III state semifinals.
“We had an outstanding team,” Wilker said. “We had nine seniors, nine juniors and a sophomore, the most (players) I’ve ever carried on varsity. That group just had a passion for the game and they were very competitive.”
Wilker has coached several children of his former players over the years, and he made sure to praise his current assistant coaches for “making this a lot of fun, because we really enjoy working together.”
Wilker’s varsity assistant is former Elmwood player Dory Boggs, who has been with the program since 2004, and former Lake players Mike Kohlhofer and Brandon Maze. Kohlhofer, who played on Lake’s 1985 team, and Maze have been on the staff for three years.
“The big thing about kids, as long as you show you care about them, kids are kids,” Wilker said. “They know my entire staff cares about them, not just about wins and losses. They want them to become better young men.”
Wilker is high on this year’s team, which features four seniors who will play college ball next year. Catcher Dawson Delventhal will play at the University of Northwest Ohio-Lima, second baseman Harry Jackson is going to Lourdes University, right fielder/pitcher Luke Walsh is headed to Davenport University in Grand Rapids, Mich., and pitcher/left fielder Jacob Boelkens will play at Bluffton University.
“We have quality kids and we’re very fortunate,” Wilker said. “A lot of these kids we have now, I coached their fathers years ago and they know what the program is about. I really like the quality and character of the kids. We’re very athletic and we run very well. We play good defense and they like playing baseball, and it shows.”
Lake entered Wednesday’s game with a .396 team batting average, led by Jackson, who was hitting .577 with 15 RBI. Dawson Delventhal was batting .500, followed by junior pitcher/left fielder Bronson Medley (.435, 10 RBI), sophomore center fielder Jaxon Delventhal (.429), junior first baseman/DH Brendan Zink (.412) and senior pitcher/first baseman Austin Fouty (.400).
Junior shortstop Scott Mackiewicz, a returning starter, is just coming back from pulled leg muscle.
Senior Jacob Boelkens, who also plays left field, is Lake’s top pitcher. Boelkens, who struck out 11 in the win over Elmwood, is 3-0 with a 0.36 ERA, 23 strikeouts and only one walk.
“He has outstanding control,” Wilker said. “He has one walk in 19 innings and he throws three pitches for strikes, which makes him very tough in high school.”
 
       

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