Take a guy from the West Coast, throw him into a scenario of trying to pull an academic school out of a century of baseball dormancy and – presto – you get results.
Under the direction of second-year coach Coby Ginsberg, Hume-Fogg’s baseball team has achieveed some historic landmarks this spring.
Nashville’s oldest high school, founded in 1912 and located in downtown, had virtually no baseball tradition until recently.
With an 8-2 victory over East Lit in District 10-AA tournament last week, the Blue Knights clinched what is believed to be their first trip to the baseball regional tournament.
Much of the success can be attributed to Ginsberg, who has established a sense of belief and confidence in a program virtually dormant for years.
“It’s very exciting to see a bunch of guys work hard and realize their full potential as players,” Ginsberg said. “We’ve accomplished some things that a lot of people didn’t think was possible.”
Ginsberg has guided the Knights to a 24-11 record, also believed to be a school record for wins. They won the Best of Metro tournament last month, going 5-0, capped by a 3-1 win over Cane Ridge in the finals, another first.
Ginsberg, 38, is a graduate of San Diego State where he was an outfielder. He moved to Nashville where he worked as a technician for Fox TV-17 sports. He became an assistant at Hillwood High before he arrived at Hume-Fogg in 2011 with the motto “Attitude is Everything.”
“I realized I probably wasn’t going to go very far if I pursued professional baseball,” he said, laughing. “The job at Fox 17 opened up, then I got the job a Hillwood.”
His first Hume-Fogg team finished 14-13 overall, 6-2 in the district. The Knights have almost doubled the win total this season.
The program shares the Rose Park field with Belmont University for home games, which was also the site of their segment of the district tournament. The team even has its own website, humefoggbaseball.com.
“I think the sky’s the limit,” Ginsberg said. “We have just three seniors, and only two of them play much. And we have 12 juniors. We’re a young team.”
One of those juniors is pitcher Adam Wyse (8-1) the expected starter Monday at Goodpasture in the Region 5-AA semifinals. He also plays shortstop.
The two senior starters are catcher Isaac Weintraub, who is batting .500, and centerfielder Zack Lannan, who has stolen 43 bases. Weintraub has signed with Grinnell (Iowa) to play, while Lannan remains undecided about a college destination.
Sophomore righthander Justin Dodson also bolsters the pitching rotation.
Hume-Fogg beat David Lipscomb 5-3 earlier in the season before it lost a tough 3-2 decision to the Mustangs in the District 10-AA championship game Thursday. That forced the Knights into a region road game at Goodpasture Monday afternoon.
“We are going to have to play a virtually perfect game to beat Goodpasture,” Ginsberg said. “But we have played extremely well this season, and we’re going in with the mindset that we can win the game.”
A victory would be another first for a school that celebrated its 100th anniversary with a block party last week.
• Perhaps motivated by the season-ending knee injury sustained recently by leading hitter Brooke Robble, the Ravenwood cruised to the District 11-AAA softball championship. Haylee Greer allowed one hit as Raptors blanked county rival Brentwood 8-0 in the title game.
Ravenwood will host McGavock Monday in the Region 6-AAA tournament. Robble suffered a season-ending ACL injury in the final game of the regular season. Brentwood travels to Overton.
• Before they even stars their final high school football seasons, Ensworth back Corn Elder and Brentwood Academy wide receiver Jalen Ramsey are two of 12 fellow rising senior players from Tennessee who have been nominated to play in the 2013 U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
A committee of regional coaches nominates players for the contest, which will take place Jan. 5.
• Father Ryan, Brentwood Academy and Montgomery Bell Academy all their swept best-of three Division II-AA regional baseball series over the weekend and advanced to the Sectionals, which open Friday.
Ryan, which beat McCallie 2-0, travels to Memphis University School. Brentwood Academy, which knocked off Ensworth in two straight, goes to Chattanooga Baylor, and MBA, which won at St. Benedict, heads to Battle Ground Academy. The Sectional schedule will have two games Friday, with a third game, if necessary, Saturday.
Those winners advance to the state Final Four next week.
• Six Montgomery Bell Academy athletes signed with colleges last week at the school.
The rundown: Tim Bulso, rifle (Coast Guard); Palmer Campbell, tennis (Middlebury, Vt.); Adam Cornett, swimming (Tennessee); Will Narramore, track (High Point); Bryan Oslin, track (Princeton); Nathan Stinson, swimming (Naval Academy).
REGION TOURNAMENT SCHEDULES
Monday’s semifinal games
Hunters Lane at Franklin, 5:30 p.m.
Brentwood at Overton, 7 p.m.
Hume-Fogg at Goodpasture, 4:30 p.m.
Sycamore at David Lipscomb, 4:30 p.m.
Nashville Christian School at Cascade, 6:30 p.m.
Monday’s semifinal games
McGavock at Ravenwood, 5 p.m.
Brentwood at Overton, Whitfeild Park, 6 p.m.
M.L. King at Goodpasture, 4:30 p.m.
White House at Lipscomb, Burton field, 5 p.m.
Tuesday’s semifinal games
Cane Ridge at Ravenwood, 6:30 p.m.
Brentwood at Antioch, 7 p.m.
Cheatham County at Lipscomb, 6:30 p.m.
M.L. King at White House, 7 p.m.
TRACK AND FIELD
Class AAA Middle Region
At Kenwood: Tuesday, Wednesday – field event finals running prelims; Friday: Running event finals.
Class A/AA Middle Region
At David Lipscomb: Monday, Tuesday – field event finals, running prelims; Thursday: Running event finals.
DII Middle Region
At Montgomery Bell Academy: Tuesday, Wednesday – field event finals, running prelims; Friday: Running event finals.