By Bob Balgemann


He’s listed as Thomas Chance among those winning spring sports awards this year at Harlem High School.

Around the baseball field throughout his four years as a Huskie, he was better known as just T.J.

In his final season, T.J. Chance’s pitching arm and bat helped Harlem win the NIC-10 championship. Also as a team, the Huskies won more than 20 games for the first time since 2012.

His individual efforts led to his being selected as the conference’s most valuable player along with being a first team, all-conference choice.

He also was the team’s offensive most valuable player and a four-year varsity letter winner.

Chance was a starting varsity pitcher for most of his four years at Harlem. This season he compiled a 7-2 record overall, with a 1.56 earned run average (ERA). He struck out 52 batters in 41 innings of work, while only issuing 13 walks.

He was 6-1 against conference opponents with a 1.24 ERA. In 28 innings, he struck out 36 and walked 11. His only save came in a league game.

Offensively, he was one of his team’s most productive batters. He carried a team-leading .418 batting average with a team-best five home runs and tied fellow senior Brock Soter with 22 runs-batted-in, highest on the team. His .560 on-base percentage was second only to senior Chase Taylor, who compiled a .563.

In the conference, Chance batted .467, also tops for the Huskies, with four of his five home runs and 16 RBIs. He had an on-base percentage of .603, best on the team.

3 team captains

Captains for Harlem all were seniors: Aaron Cusimano, Cody Paholski and Soter. In all, seven Huskies were scholar athletes.

Cusimano was first team, all-conference and the Huskies  most valuable player.

As a standout pitcher he finished with a 7-1 record overall. He threw the most innings for Harlem, 77.6, and recorded a 1.71 ERA with 32 strikeouts with only 11 walks. He was a perfect 5-0 against NIC-10 opponents, pitching 45 innings and finishing with a splendid 0.93 ERA, best among the Huskies’ 11 throwers.

At the plate, he hit .282 and drove in 15 runs.

Paholski, another first team, all-conference choice, was the team’s catcher and, amazingly, he picked nine runners off base during the season. Most at Harlem believe that’s a new school record.

Offensively, he hit .347 with 11 RBIs and his 22 runs scored were second to Soter on the team.

Speaking of Soter, Harlem’s third baseman Soter was the team’s fourth first team, all-conference selection. He carried a .337 batting average with a team-leading 24 runs scored and 22 RBIs. He had the most at-bats for the team, 101, and compiled a .448 on-base percentage.

This was a senior-laden team with 10 graduating in May.

Other seniors and statistics are: Bryce Goodall, 333 batting average; Tyler Dietz, .329 hitter; Zack Jones, .317 batting average; Joey Parsons, .269 batter; Drake Sundstrom, .318 hitter; and Taylor Chase, .417 batting average.

Junior Jake Nimtz was in his third year as a varsity performer and he finished with a .274 batting average while scoring 22 runs.

As a left-handed pitcher, he posted a 5-2 record over 41 innings of work and finished with one save and a 3.07 ERA. His 46 strikeouts were second high for the season.

Ohers expected to be back next season are Jamie Bolanos, .231 batting average; Eric Steiner, .294 hitter; Jamie Balanos, .100 batting average; Tyler Cason, perfect by going 1-for-1 at the plate; and Logan Burbach, who was hitless in one trip.

Steiner pitched 14.3 innings for the varsity, with a 3.91 ERA. Burbach threw 10.6 innings, recording a 3.94 ERA. Another promising underclassman is Tacoma Kobayaski, who pitched four innings and had a 5.25 ERA.

Harlem finished head coach Doug Livingston’s final year with a 24-8 record. He retired after 24 years in coaching with his teams combining to win more than 300 games.

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