Nick Stoltz admitted it was a quick transition from basketball to baseball.
“There wasn’t much down time,” the Geneva senior said. “It definitely made it exciting.”
But Stoltz and his basketball teammates who play baseball didn’t mind getting to camp a little late.
The Eagles became the talk of the area with a Cinderella-like tournament run, reaching the Division II Lakeside District final, before falling to Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph 84-63 on March 9.
And Stoltz was a big reason why.
The 5-foot-11 senior ended his basketball career, averaging 17.2 points, 9.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 3.1 steals per game. He also became the school’s all-time scoring leader in January, surpassing Jay McHugh’s mark of 1,158 from 1977-79. Stoltz ended up with 1,327 career points.
“It’s definitely an honor,” said Stoltz, an honorable mention All-Ohio choice. “To be 5-11 and make it is definitely an honor. Most of my points were inside the 3-point line. I worked my butt off and was able to play early. It was a great way to end a four-year career.”
The Eagles also gelled at the right time. They were 8-8, then reeled off eight straight victories, including recording upset wins, as a sixth seed, over No. 3 Harvey (45-40) and No. 2 Lake Catholic (79-68) in a sectional final and district semifinal, to reach the school’s first district final since 2002.
“We scrapped with some teams,” said Stoltz, who had 21 points against VASJ.
First-year Geneva coach Eric Bowser appreciated Stoltz’s persistent effort and energy.
“He broke the 1,000-point barrier and broke the school’s career-point record while remaining a team player, rebounding and putting other teammates in a position to succeed by sharing the basketball,” Bowser said. “We will miss Nick and his determination next year for sure, but he has helped set a standard that our younger guys have now seen and will need to strive for to be successful.”
Just when the basketball season ended, Stoltz was on the diamond. But he had already made up his mind about next year. On Feb. 18, he tweeted his intention to join Baldwin Wallace for school and to play baseball.
“It was a tough decision between Baldwin Wallace and Marietta,” he said. “I fell in love with the BW campus. There’s talent already there. I’m looking to get a couple of rings.”
BW will look to repeat as Ohio Athletic Conference champions this season.
The Yellow Jackets return 22 letter-winners and two All-OAC athletes from last year’s squad that finished the season with a school-record 33 wins and tied for third at 11-7 in the conference, before winning the school’s first OAC championship since the 1985 season.
But first, Stoltz wants to get hardware at the high school level.
In his three years, Geneva has reached the district level three times. The Eagles advanced to the Division II Jefferson District final in 2016, before falling to Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin 9-0.
“Since I’ve been a freshman, I’ve wanted to win a district championship,” he said. “We have a lot of summer baseball talent and are looking for the younger kids to step up.”
Stoltz, a pitcher-outfielder, said it didn’t take long getting into baseball mode.
“Baseball is my No. 1 sport,” he said. “It’s like riding a bike.”
He has been getting plenty of practice on the diamond over the years, leading up to playing next year.
Stoltz has suited up for legion teams and, in the fall, spent a week in Jupiter, Florida, as part of the Under Armor team after being selected.
“I was in little league for a year and it’s been increasing every year,” he said. “It all adds up.”
Stoltz said the legion games, especially playing teams from across the nation with the Bruisers, enabled him to reach a higher level of pitching.
“We were competing against 19U teams,” he said. “We were facing kids at the college level. You can’t miss your spots.”
In Florida, Stoltz spent a week of eating, breathing and sleeping baseball from sun up to sun down.
“It was definitely a college experience,” he said. “The guys that coached us play semi-pro or pro baseball. I definitely learned what it takes to get to that level. They definitely teach you how to use your body, how to understand the game and to think a couple of plays ahead.”
Even though this is Stoltz’s last sports season at Geneva, he isn’t thinking that way. After all, one never knows. A basketball-type run is possible.
“As basketball came to an end, I told the guys ‘Don’t let this be your last night,’” he said. “That’s probably the last time I was going to play basketball competitively. I’m taking that same mindset with baseball. I’m not done until I’m done. I’ll figure out that part when it’s over.”