Coach Explains Incredible Streaks Of 87, 83 Straight Wins
High school baseball has been played for over 100 years. Prior to 2011, the three greatest winning streaks in prep baseball history were 68 by Bishop Molloy H.S. (Briarwood, N.Y.) from 1963-66, 70 straight by La Cueva H.S. (Albquerque, N.M.) from 2003-2005, and 75 in a row by Homer, Mich. from 2004-2005. The old record was shattered in 2011 as two high schools blew past the 75-win mark and currently have active 87 and 83 game winning streaks entering the 2012 season ó something never done in high school baseball history. Martensdale-St. Marys (Martensdale, Iowa) has captured 87 victories in a row over two seasons as the Blue Devils have won two consecutive state championships. Portsmouth (N.H.) High has won 83 consecutive games which stretches over four years and four state titles. Both programs have amazing stories on how they have strung together so many wins in a row with the hallmark being consistency, and Collegiate Baseball felt a closer inspection of both programs was warranted during this historic run by both schools. Both coaches reveal how they have accomplished it.
MARTENSDALE, Iowa. ó No baseball team in the history of high school baseball has won as many consecutive baseball games as Martensdale-St. Marys High School (Martensdale, Iowa).
At 87 straight wins and counting, the Blue Devils have been a model of consistency since Head Coach Justin Dehmer arrived four seasons ago.
The Blue Devils posted a 43-0 record in 2010 and a 44-0 mark in 2011. Only a handful of times was the streak in jeopardy.
"In the state tournament last summer, we were down 1-0 and wound up winning on a walk-off hit in the bottom of the seventh and won, 2-1," said Dehmer. "In the next round, we were down three going into the last inning and scored five runs as we went on to win, 5-4."
Dehmer recalled another game during the 2011 season where the Blue Devils were down three runs late in a game and rallied to win.
"There were definitely some times we were down three runs or one run here and there. But we also had our share of blowout wins."
During the 87 straight wins, the Blue Devils have scored 904 runs (averaging 10.4 per game), hit 225 doubles and belted 105 home runs while stealing 251 bases. In addition, the pitching staff recorded 754 strikeouts and only allowed 133 runs.
Dehmer played his high school baseball at Shadow Mountain H.S. (Phoenix, Ariz.). Then he played two years at Central Arizona J.C. for legendary Head Coach Clint Myers. After that, he went to Kansas State and finished his college playing career at Grand Canyon.
"I knew all along I wanted to get into teaching and coaching," said Dehmer. "Once my playing career was over, my wife and I made a decision to move to Iowa because thatís where my wifeís family is from. I started coaching immediately that first summer in Iowa. I was a JV/varsity assistant for a couple of years at a small school called Earlham H.S. (Earlham, Iowa). We played a great baseball program named Martensdale-St. Marys and never really did well against them. They had been a powerhouse for a long time with an Iowa Hall of Fame coach and great tradition with many appearances in the state tournament.
"I ended up being the head coach at Earlham for two more years. Then I took a job as an algebra and algebra II teacher at Southeast Polk H.S. outside of Des Moines, Iowa and didnít have a coaching job at the time since I resigned at Earlham. At about that time, the head coaching position opened up at Martensdale-St. Marys. I live about 10 minutes away from this school and knew this is where I wanted to coach. I applied for the job and was ultimately chosen as the new head coach."
When Dehmer started as the head coach four years ago, he had an extremely young ball club. Since the high school baseball season is during the summer, graduated eighth graders who are ready to be freshmen can play high school baseball. Technically, they can play varsity baseball on the high school level for five seasons.
"We were starting three graduated eighth graders my first summer at Martensdale-St. Marys. To be competitive with really young players is tough to do. There was a lot of learning and growing up that took place. We ended up going 19-12 that first season.
"The year before I took over, the team was 8-23. It was one of the worst years that our school had ever experienced as far as baseball. We had to start somewhere, and we had a good group of young kids. We looked to them to build on and grow with experience.
"My first two years with the program, we only had three seniors in the whole program. So we were extremely young. Those young guys got a lot of opportunities to play. In the process, we learned how to win and be competitive. Eventually we started knocking off teams that had been beating us."
Dehmer said that the summer of 2009 is when the team started coming together.
"We were 25-11 the second year I was there. I felt we had an extremely solid team that could compete on the state level. We got knocked off in the district finals and didnít get a chance to play in the state finals. After we lost that game, we were extremely disappointed. Many of the players felt we could have and should have won that district final game. But we didnít get it done. We committed a few errors in the first inning, and before we knew it, we were behind 6 or 7-0. We chipped away at their lead but could never come back all the way.
"And we havenít lost since with 87 straight wins. But it all comes back to that loss we had that fueled our guys to step it up a notch and work even harder."
More On The Streaks: Collegiate Baseballís Oct. 1 edition has detailed information on the coaching philosophy of Martensdale-St. Marys (IA) Head Coach Justin Dehmer. He delves into the intense practices his teams have, why tracking quality at-bats is so vital and his unique BASE2 philosophy. In addition, Collegiate Baseball explains how Portsmouth High (N.H.) went from a 30-game losing streak to 83 wins in a row over the last four seasons under Head Coach Tim Hopley. We also delve into his coaching philosophy and much, much more. To subscribe, call (520) 623-4530.