As we prepare for the 2024 state championships at Victory Field this coming weekend, we thought it would be a good idea to look back at one of the greatest high school teams in Indiana history.  There were not many teams that finished a season undefeated, but the 2005 Brownsburg Bulldogs were one of those teams.  Luckily, we have hall of fame coach Pat O'Neil who guided that Bulldog team who gave us an insight on how the season went.  The IHSBCA website asked coach O'Neil to put down his thoughts on the 2005 season so the rest of us could get a little insight on that team.

So, from the words of Coach O'Neil lets learn about the 2005 Brownsburg Bulldogs.

“Put a lime in the Coke you nut and get the job done!”  These are the words of wisdom I gave to our pitcher senior Lance Lynn in the top of the 7th inning versus Evansville North in the state championship game.  The Bulldogs were up 6-2 going into the 8th.  Next thing I know it’s 6-4, no outs, bases loaded and the #3 batter is due up.  Time out, I hollered!  I went to Lance as infielders converged for a pep talk.  Screw that! I talked reality and focusing on one pitch at a time.

I asked Lance, how do you feel?  He responded, “I’m good coach.”  I calmly said, “no your not.”  “The ball is in your hand and this kid got a double on you in the 1st inning.”  So, stick to the game plan, get a strikeout and then a double play.”  “Put a lime in the coke and get the job done!”.  I slapped him on the butt and jogged off praying.

So, as I’m sitting in the dugout signaling to our catcher, Austin Nichols our big All-State, All-American, Mr. Baseball Lancy Lynn stares in for the signal with determination and challenges the tough #3 hitter and strikes him out on 3 pitches.  Next up, the cleanup hitter.  First pitch and he grounds it to our sophomore shortstop T.J. Baumet, tough hop, gathers it, flips to senior Cory Dragstrem who relays to sophomore Drew Storen, double play.  Game over! The Bulldogs win 6-4 and the 4A state championship.

As my great friend and mentor, hall of famer Ken Schreiber told me afterwards laughing, “Irishman, your butt was squeezing tight in the 7th.”  I said yours would too you old german.  After losing in the state finals in 03’ and 04’, we deserved this.  Of course he responds, “He never lost 2 in a row at the state finals.  This is why I love this man, RIP.


In baseball there are many sayings, but the ones I remember most are:

  1. The more you learn and understand the game, the more you appreciate and enjoy it.
  2. Program comes first

I as a coach tried to incorporate this mentality to every program I’ve been associated with.  When I was named the head baseball coach of Brownsburg in late July of 2000, I believed the Bulldog program was a diamond in the rough.  Some talent at the start for sure, but I wanted to be the next LaPorte in Indiana high school baseball.  Therefore, the personality of the coach will be the personality of the team.  A program is not a one year success.  It needs to be consistently ranked in the state, nationally, have media coverage and have players moving on to play D1 baseball.

Our 2001 team led the way to making Brownsburg a program to wreckin with.  #1 in the state and top 10 in the nation.  Pretty good start I’d say.  We went from having 30 future dogs in the summer camps to having over 100, plus another 100 at the holiday camp in December.  I believe we made baseball fun and players saw this and wanted to be a part of it.

Losing the state finals in ‘03 to McCutcheon was tough.  Senior all-state catcher Sean Gaston was our leader who bled purple.  Feisty, senior LF Kyle Freeman was a dog and catalyst.  In ‘04 we lost 3-1 to Lawrence North.  Tough defeat against a senior laden team.

So, in 2005, we are now senior laden along with baseball rats in juniors outfielders Gary King and Kyle Hammontree.  Mix in  sophmores Drew Storen, T.J. Baumet and freshman Jeff King (all players going on to play college baseball) and it was a good combination of talent.  Lynn and Storen will make the show (MLB) and have success, and I can’t forget our 8th grade batboy Tucker Barnhart (now playing for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Former 2X gold glove winner).  This group of kids worked together to bring home that championship and pride to the Brownsburg community.

As I finish the write-up about the 2005 Brownsburg Bulldogs season, I’d be remiss to not mention a few people and groups.  To our athletic director Bill Titus who hired me even though the past two years I was the Covington High School head softball coach.  His leadership, support and friendship will always be remembered.  To our AD secretary Joy Ayers, truly the best in caring and assistance.  To the families, players, field maintenance and assistant coaches, none of our success can happen without your efforts and positive support.  Lastly, to the left field junkies.  Always there supporting the players and the program.

Some people say that anyone could have coached this 2005 team.  I just laugh because they have no clue what it takes to run a program.  When I was hired, the community's little league  teams were playing in the Little League World Series.  The attention, accolades, awards were daily.  Twelve year olds telling them how great they are, getting privileges other twelve year olds are not getting.  Jealousy steps in from parents, grandparents, students and teachers.  These players lived through this all through high school.  

Alcohol, drugs, girls were constantly out there, but these boys stayed focused and were not deterred.  The Indianapolis Star newspaper named our 2005 team the “Best Ever” in the state of Indiana.  2005 started with a bang in Mooresville winning 14-0 as “Superman” senior CF Sean Veza and Lynn hit home runs.  Next up was Tri-West who was defeated 14-4 in 5 innings.  Senior Alex Hendrickson, a great leadoff hitter, combined with freshman Jeff King for the victory.  Then bitter rival Avon, another 5 inning victory as Drew Storen pitches a gem and All-State 3B senior Nick Shipley, Lynn and Veza hit bombs.

As the season progressed , we had to stay healthy and eligible.  Always checking on players grades, talking to each player about off the field shenanigans and temptations.  We had to keep them focused on the overall prize.  My assistants Phil McIntyre, Rick Thompson, Brian Burr, Brian Stayte, plus our trainer Dave Jessup were perfect for the program and helped keep the ship on course.

We also played in the Hoosier Crossroads Conference, which is the most competitive conference in the state.  The amazing coaches, great facilities and professionalism can’t be matched.  By playing in such a conference helped prepare us for the tournament run.  Those conference foes contributed to the success of the 05’ team.  One of the biggest conference matchup against Lafayette Harrison and 6th round MLB pick, Josh Lindblom.  We won 3-0 as Lynn struck out 18 and threw a no-hitter.  The next night we played Harrison again at home.  We scored 3 runs in the 6th/7th for a come from behind victory 7-5 as Storen and Snyder handled the mound and Baumet and Shipley launched home runs.

The Bulldogs actually came from behind to win in 11 games throughout the season. Luck is only good once in a while.  Heart, attitude, effort amongst all teammates is the answer. We used four main pitchers that year.  We went with Lance Lynn as our number one and senior Matt Snyder (who could’ve been #1 on most other teams), sophomore Drew Storen and freshman Jeff King.  All pitchers were competitors and winners, I guess that was why we were 35-0.  

No onto the tournament.  Sectional finals at Avon, first inning, Lynn sprains his ankle backing up home plate, steps on a bat.  Oh my God, I was thinking.  However, our amazing trainer Dave Jessup taped Lance up and he finishes the game victoriously.  True Grit! And a Sectional title.

In regionals we are home vs. Lafayette Harrison and Lindblom.  Packed house, 10 deep outside of the fence, tension and excitement is in the air.  Lynn vs. Lindblom, both throw 90-94, best pitchers in the state and close friends meet again.  First inning, Sean Veza launches a grand slam home run just over the centerfield fence and the place goes crazy.  Bulldogs win 6-3, whew!

Semi-sate up in South Bend at Coveleski Stadium.  Beautiful, we defeated Carroll 10-0.  Big one up next vs. my alma mater the LaPorte Slicers.  Bam, Lynn hits a towering homerun over leftfield that landed on the church roof.  Hammontree and Shipley hit bombs and the Bulldogs win 7-1.  What could be better than beating your old team, the program I wanted Brownsburg to be like.

Oh, now we must win the state championship!  In front of a packed Loeb Stadium (not Victory Field this year).  We did it!  We did it with hard work and togetherness while having fun playing America’s favorite pastime.

Remember, in tough times, “Put a lime in the Coke, and get the job done!”