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THB SPORTS AWARDS

Coach of the Year - Boys: Jeff Closser

Closser reaches pinnacle in 13th year

  • 1 min to read
Jeff Closser

Alexandria baseball coach Jeff Closser watches as his players gather for pregame introductions Tuesday at Victory Field. The Tigers defeated Southridge 4-3 for their first state championship since 1998.

Jeff Closser’s 13th season in charge of the Alexandria baseball program proved to be the charm.

The Tigers’ stunning rally during the state championship game against Southridge gave the school its first state title since 1998 and made Closser the 2019 THB Sports Awards Boys Coach of the Year.

Closser’s son, J.D., was a member of that championship baseball team 21 years ago, giving the family a dynasty of sorts some two decades apart.

For Closser, it was a championship long in the making.

He’s been meticulous in rebuilding the Alex program from the ground up, starting with the youth leagues.

The Tigers tore through the competition for 29 wins this spring, but the final one was the most surprising.

Alexandria trailed 3-0 in the sixth inning before Williams started a two-run rally with a one-out single. Junior Brayton Gaines drove in the Tigers’ first run with a single, and Metz scored on a wild pitch to make it 3-2.

That set up an improbable seventh inning that appeared to end when sophomore Kole Stewart swung and missed for Strike 3 with two outs. But the catcher couldn’t hold onto the ball and threw wildly into right field as Stewart raced to first base.

He wound up on second base and was driven home on a single by Morehead to center field. The Raiders again appeared poised to escape the inning when Williams hit a short fly ball to left field, but the hit dropped between two defenders and Morehead raced home with the winning run.

THB sports editor George Bremer has covered the Indianapolis Colts since 2010. He occasionally sports a beard that can rival Andrew Luck's, but he lacks arm strength and durability.

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