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COLUMBUS -- When the 21st century began, the Tallmadge baseball team had a reputation for being one of the best teams in the state every year.
The Blue Devils reached the state title game in 2000 and 2001, but they came up just a hair short of winning the most prestigious prize.
Tallmadge, which also reached the state title game in 1966 and 1996, finally got its elusive Division II championship in 2002 and looked poised to be a state powerhouse for years to come.
And then the Blue Devils hit an unexpected wall.
Tallmadge lost in the district semifinals one year later and hadn't been back to Columbus since.
Heck, the Blue Devils hadn't even made it to the Elite Eight since then.
Well, all of those so-called curses have been put to rest.
Tallmadge is standing on top of the mountain once again.
The Blue Devils won their second Division II state title in school history after earning a 4-0 victory over Dayton Chaminade Julienne. The Division II state title game took place June 3 at Huntington Park in Columbus.
Prior to 2017, Tallmadge (25-7) won just four district titles and was 0-4 in regional semifinal contests since its last trip to states.
This spring, Tallmadge captured a district title, bunted its way to the Elite Eight and did everything right to win a regional title and earn a berth in the state championship game.
Those accomplishments were certainly satisfying for Blue Devils' 14th-year head coach Kenny Linn, who guided a team with mostly underclassmen to a destination that was nonexistent for a number of years.
"This community loves the sport so much," said Linn, who was the head coach at Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary prior to joining Tallmadge. "I envied their program on the other side. I've been blessed to be part of this community for the last 14 years. The administrators and the kids believed in me."
For much of the postseason, the Blue Devils played from behind.
Not this time.
Tallmadge struck first, scored a few more runs later in the game and got a gem from Jared Burick.
The junior right-hander, who finished 10-1 in 2017, was absolutely dominant until he ran into some trouble in the bottom of the seventh.
Burick struck out five batters and threw just 80 pitches in 6-1/3 innings of work.
"It's awesome and unbelievable," Burick said. "We have a brotherhood that no one else has. We're so close. The juniors have been playing together since we were little."
Perhaps the butterflies might have gotten to Burick in the seventh as he walked two batters.
Fortunately for Burick, a certain hard-throwing teammate came to the rescue.
Junior right-hander Mikah McGlaughlin, who threw a wild pitch on his first offering, struck out the next two batters to finish the game and pick up the save.
The Blue Devils got their first run in the top of the first.
Junior shortstop Phil Glasser got things rolling with a single to right field. Glasser moved to second when junior right fielder Seth Gergely laid down a sacrifice bunt.
But Eagles' side-arming right-hander Ryan Peltier, who entered the game with a 9-0 record, got a crucial second out when he struck out junior third baseman Zach Boyd.
However, Tallmadge was hardly deterred, thanks to its starting junior first baseman.
Scott Seeker, who plans to continue his academic and baseball careers at the United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., smacked a chopper just past Peltier for a run-scoring single to center.
"I just wanted to win this for us," Seeker said. "It's incredible."
The Blue Devils, who have had a knack for falling behind and then rallying late throughout the postseason, got two more runs in the fourth.
Sophomore catcher Rich Eyre started things off with a single down the third-base line.
Glasser followed with a single to right and Gergely made it 2-0 with a sacrifice fly to center.
After a ground out, Seeker used some two-out magic again.
The standout junior, who also played for the Tallmadge football and basketball teams, ripped another run-scoring single to make it 3-0.
The Blue Devils got their last run in the sixth inning with -- you guessed it -- two outs.
After Peltier retired the first two batters, Tallmadge, like it has done throughout the spring, went to work.
Designated hitter Josh Taylor, the lone senior on the team, reached base on a single after his line drive went off Peltier's glove.
Burick followed with a single to left and junior second baseman Jake Rensel made it 4-0 with a single near the foul line in right.
Taylor, who scored on Rensel's hit, told Linn prior to the season that he had dreamed of winning a state title since he was six years old.
"It's a feeling of euphoria," Taylor said. "I never felt this in my life. I can't thank the junior class enough. This is a dream come true."
The four runs were more than enough for Burick, who used a fastball and a wicked off-speed pitch to stymie Chaminade Julienne throughout the afternoon.
He finished with five strikeouts and three walks.
"The bigger the game, the bigger he plays," Linn said of Burick. "He has shown that all year. He has been asked to pitch a number of games. He looked very relaxed and comfortable."
Burick also had stellar defense behind him.
Tallmadge did not commit an error and got a 4-6-3 double play in the fourth. Glasser also erased a sure base hit with a leaping catch to end the fifth.
"I still believe we have the best defense in the state," Burick said.
Things got a bit nerve-racking in the seventh as Burick delivered consecutive one-out walks.
McGlaughlin came in and immediately put two Eagles in scoring position when his first pitch went to the backstop.
However, McGlaughlin struck out the next two batters to end the game.
Chaminade Julienne finished with just two hits and was 0 for 8 with runners on base.
The Blue Devils had eight hits and were 5 for 8 with runners in scoring position.
Two years ago, Tallmadge reached regional play with a bunch of enthusiastic and energized young players.
Now grizzled veterans, those same players have turned the Blue Devils into Ohio's finest Division II team in the blink of an eye.
This could be the just beginning. Other than Taylor, everyone is expected to return next season.
"We'll be back here next year," Burick said.