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Ironton ‘72 champs enjoy reunion

Members of the 1972 Ironton Fighting Tigers’ state championship baseball team attending the 40-year reunion were: front row from left to right, John Zornes, Jeff Brickey, Scott Wylie, Jimmy Payne, Jerry Murnahan, Greg Spence and Bob Bayert; second row from left, head coach Mike Burcham, Fred Easterling, Rick Massey, Jim Tordiff, Steve Johann, Terry Mowery, Ricky Boykin and Gary Carrico. Absent were Mark Fairchild, Mke Rowe, Steve Massey, Greg Rogers, Jim O’Leary, Don Vencill, Dave Kriebel and Tom Castle. Deceased members are Tino Ball, Jeff Collins, Keith Parker, statistician Beryl Jenkins and coach Lou Parker. (The Ironton Tribune / Jim Walker)

By JIM WALKER

Tribune Sports Editor

 

It was a season to remember, and that’s just what the 1972 Ironton Fighting Tigers’ baseball team did.

Gathering for a 40-year reunion of the school’s only state baseball title, many members of the team reminisced about that magical season with head coach Mike Burcham.

“They were a great team,” said Burcham. “They were kids who wanted to run. They were kids who wanted to field. They were kids who wanted to pitch.

“Everybody picked everybody up. I remember (Bob Bayert) was mad because he didn’t get a hit in the last inning of the championship game when he hit a sacrifice fly. One of the players said, ‘Don’t you know what you just did? You knocked in the winning run.’”

Ironton breezed through the tournament by beating Wheelersburg 6-1, South Point 9-0, Sheridan 9-1 and Steubenville Catholic 7-3 in the regional finals.

In the Class AA state tournament, Ironton rallied in the top of the seventh inning to score five runs and win the semifinal game 9-7 over Columbus Bishop Wehrle, the defending state champions who had their entire team back.

“I remember the Wehrle people on the dugout ready to rush the field and we kept getting hit after hit. They were stunned,” said Steve Harvey, Ironton’s team chaplain who was a classmate of many Ironton players during 1972.

“They started celebrating early. We really gave it to (their fans). That was a lot of fun.”

In the state finals, Ironton again rallied with two runs in the top of the seventh inning to beat Solon 3-2.

Hard-throwing Jeff “Sticks” Collins went six innings and struck out 11. Jerry Murnahan — who pitched a complete game in the semifinals and also struck out 11 — pitched the seventh inning for the save.

Not only did Ironton rally in both state tournament games, but the Fighting Tigers got five runs in the seventh inning to win the regional title game against Steubenville Catholic.

“The thing about that team was there wasn’t an easy out in the lineup. We were down in the sixth and seventh inning of all (of our last) three games and our guys always believed they would win. This bunch never quit,” said Burcham.

“You have to have good players to win. Every coach there is will tell you the same thing. You don’t win without players.”

Shortstop Jimmy Payne said Burcham deserves to get some of the credit.

“He always gives credit to the players, but he was the reason we played to our potential and played with confidence,” said Payne.

Outfielder Ricky Boykin gave Burcham and all his high school coaches in football and baseball a lot of praise.

“The coaches taught me things that took me through life. It was a great experience. You really taught us how to be winners,” said Boykin.

In a championship season with a record of 29-3, there are plenty of season statistical records along with career marks.

Greg Spence had a 15-game hitting streak and Ironton’s 18-game winning streak to close the season remains a school record.

Ironton’s pitching staff had an impressive 2.68 earned run average, but was an amazing 1.485 in the 1973 season with Jerry Murnahan and Jeff “Sticks” Collins handling the bulk of the pitching. Murnahan was 8-3 and Collins 7-0.

Murnahan was 14-0 with six saves during the 1972 title season. Collins was 4-0 and Rick Massey 8-1 (15-1 in his career).

Murnahan struck out 132 batters in 88 innings and had four shutouts. He also owns the record for most career strikeouts with 322 and shutouts with nine. He had a 30-6 career won-loss record, the most career wins by any pitcher.

Only Phil Murnahan — Jerry’s older brother — has more shutouts in a season with five. Phil — clocked in the upper 90 mile-an-hour range — had three no-hitters in 1968.

Phil Murnahan and Jimmy Williams are the only pitchers to fire back-to-back no-hitters in a season.

Collins owns the school’s only perfect game. It came during his senior year in 1974.

Team leaders in 1972: Jimmy Payne runs scored, Spence batting average, Steve Massey times at bat, Parker home runs, Bob Bayert runs batted in and best fielding percentage of any starter, and Kriebel most times on base and triples.

Spence and Payne tied for second in home runs.

Ironton ran wild all season. The Fighting Tigers stole 130 bases in 140 attempts. Terry Mowery, Steve Johann, Fred Easterling, Jeff Collins and Jerry Murnahan were never thrown out stealing and Ricky Boykin was thrown out just once.

During the tournament run, eight of the nine starters hit a home run.

 

Ironton Fighting Tigers Baseball

1972 Season Results

Ironton Opponent Pitcher W-L

Ironton 17 Cranbrook (Mich) 3 Murnahan

Ironton 5 Huntington, W.Va. 4 R. Massey

Ironton 6 Delaware 9 Fairchild

Ironton 6 Wooster 4 Murnahan

Ironton 11 Big Walnut 1 R. Massey

Ironton 9 St. Joseph 0 R. Massey

Ironton 4 Mansfield Malabar 3 Murnahan

Ironton 6 South Point 3 O’Leary

Ironton 6 Wellston 0 Murnahan

Ironton 4 Portsmouth 2 R. Massey

Ironton 4 Gallipolis 2 Murnahan

Ironton 2 Logan 6 R. Massey

Ironton 5 Waverly 0 Murnahan

Ironton 3 South Point 4 Carrico

Ironton 3 Athens 0 Murnahan

Ironton 6 St. Joseph 4 R. Massey

Ironton 27 Coal Grove 3 Carrico

Ironton 15 Mansfield Malabar 6 Collins

Ironton 7 Lexington 0 O’Leary

Ironton 2 Jackson 1 O’Leary

Ironton 9 Chesapeake 2 Murnahan

Ironton 9 Meigs 0 Collins

Ironton 10 Russell, Ky. 7 R. Massey

Ironton 3 Russell, Ky. 2 Murnahan

Ironton 6 Ashland, Ky. 3 R. Massey

Sectional Tournament

Ironton 6 Wheelersburg 1 Collins

Ironton 9 South Point 0 Murnahan

District Tournament

Ironton 9 Sheridan 1 Murnahan

Regional Tournament

Ironton 11 Bellaire 1 Murnahan

Ironton 7 Steubenville Catholic 3 Murnahan

State Tournament

Ironton 9 Col. Bishop Wehrle 7 Murnahan

Ironton 3 Solon 2 Collins

Record: 29-3 (18 wins in a row (school record)

 

1972 Class AA State Tournament Linescores

Semifinal Game

Ironton 012 010 5 = 9 14 2

Wehrle 013 030 0 = 7 7 0

Jerry Murnahan and Dave Kriebel. Bill Doughton and Bob Mantle. W-Murnahan (K-11, BB-4, ER-6). L-Doughton (K-5, BB-3, ER-9). Hitting-Ironton: Jimmy Payne 1-4, Bob Bayert 1-4, Dave Kriebel 2-3 rbi, Greg Spence 2-3, Keith Parker 3-4 rbi-2, Ricky Boykin 2-4 rbi-3, Jim Tordiff 2-4 rbi, Jerry Murnahan 1-4 rbi-2; Wehrle: Jerry Mahen 3-4, Bill Doughton 2-4 rbi-3, Bob Mantle 2-4 rbi.

Ironton Scoring

2nd Inning: Spence flies to center, Parker singles, Boykin singles, Tordiff singles (rbi), Murnahan strikes out, S. Massey walks, Payne ground out.

3rd inning: Bayert grounds out, Kriebel singles, Spence singles, Parker singles (rbi), Boykin fielder’s choice (rbi), Tordiff lines out.

5th Inning: Bayert grounds out, Kriebel home run, Spence singles, Parker hits into double play.

7th Inning: Payne singles, Bayert flies out to center, Kriebel walks, Spence walks, Parker singles (rbi), Boykin singles (2 rbi), Tordiff pops out, Murnahan singles (2 rbi), S. Massey grounds out.

Wehrle Scoring

2nd Inning: Bob Mantle single, to third on an error, Randy Craycraft strike out, Mike Yoli squeeze bunt (rbi), Pat Bates strike out called.

3rd Inning: Mike Trucko fly out, Jerry Mahen single, Gary Metzger single, Bill Doughton home run (3 rbi), Larry Wolf walk, Mantle double, Craycraft strike out.

5th Inning: Mahen singled, Metzger sacrifice bunt, Doughton double (rbi), Wolf walk, Mantle triple (2 rbi) but thrown out trying to score, Craycraft hit by pitch, Yoli fly out.

Championship Game

Ironton 100 000 2 = 3 5 2

Solon 000 011 0 = 2 5 0

Jeff Collins, Jerry Murnahan (7) and Dave Kriebel. Phil Francis, Jim Eden (7) and Bob Waldron. W-Collins (K-11, BB-0, ER-2, H-5). Save-Murnahan (K-1, BB-0, H-0). L-Francis (K-2, BB-6, ER-3, H-4). Eden K-1, BB-0, H-1. Hitting-Ironton: Jimmy Payne 2-4 rbi, Bob Bayert rbi, Dave Kriebel 1-4 rbi, Keith Parker 2-3; Solon: Jim Eden 1-3, Bill Rosticil rbi, Bob Waldron 1-3, Mark Beltauski 1-3, Bill Renz 1-3 rbi, Rick Polhemus 1-3.

Ironton Scoring

1st Inning: S. Massey walk, Payne strikes out called, Bayert flies out, Kriebel doubles (rbi), Spence grounds out.

7th Inning: Tordiff walks, Murnahan (pinch-hit) sacrifice bunt, S. Massey walks, (Edens relieves Francis), Payne doubles (rbi), Bayert sacrifice fly to right field (rbi), Kriebel strikes out called.

Solon Scoring

5th Inning: Bob Waldron single, Mark Beltauski single, Skip Schulze ground out to 2B, Bill Renz double (rbi).

6th Inning: Phil Francis strike out, Chris Bando safe on an error, Jim Eden double (rbi), Bill Rosticil fly out to right, Waldron fly out to center.

7th Inning

Beltauski foul pop out to catcher (Kriebel), Schulze safe on error, Renz strikes out, Rick Polhemus flies out to centerfield (Spence).

(NOTE: Ironton scorekeeper was Beryl Jenkins)

 

1972 Ironton Fighting Tigers Roster

No. Player Pos. Ht. Wt. Gr.

22 Steve Massey 3B 5-11 175 Sr.

10 Jim Payne SS 5-10 150 Sr.

23 Bob Bayert 1B 5-10 150 Sr.

44 Dave Kriebel C 5-11 170 Jr.

20 Greg Spence CF 5-09 145 Jr.

6 Keith Parker LF 5-11 170 Jr.

30 Ricky Boykin RF 6-00 200 Sr.

25 Jim Tordiff 2B 5-11 160 Sr.

9 Jerry Murnahan P 5-11 175 Jr.

11 Jeff Collins P 6-05 180 So.

12 Rick Massey P 6-03 210 Jr.

40 Gary Carrico P 5-11 165 Sr.

5 Jim O’Leary P 5-10 150 Sr.

14 Steve Johann 3B 5-10 150 Jr.

17 Tino Ball C 5-10 160 Jr.

42 Greg Rogers RF 5-11 170 Sr.

16 Mike Rowe INF 6-00 150 Sr.

24 Jeff Brickey INF 5-06 140 Fr.

Head Coach: Mike Burcham

Assistant Coaches: Lou Parker, Tom Castle

(Note: First 9 players listed were the batting order)