AVON, OH (WOIO) - If you hear a few extra cheers for the Lake Erie Crusher's starting pitcher Friday night, it's not just because he's one of the leaders of the team -- he's a hometown hero.
"I'm excited to be here," said Steve Hagen.
After spending some time away, Hagen, a righty, has come home to start for the Lake Erie Crushers.
"I did, but I never expected to be here. I'm fortunate enough to get the opportunity," Hagen said.
Hagen grew up playing baseball in Brecksville, idolizing his favorite Indians.
"Watching the Indians in the 90s was a ton of fun, I just love that whole team," Hagen said.
Now, he's the one his family and friends go to the ballpark to watch. He says his mom doesn't miss many games.
"She loves it! She gets to come out all the time. She sees all my starts. I love having her out here," Hagen said.
The team last won a championship in their opening year in 2009. The squad is hoping this is the year they bring the trophy back to northeast Ohio.
"Nobody plays for second place. Anything short of a championship would be a disappointment in my eyes," said team manager Cam Roth.
Roth says with Hagen on the mound, they have a real chance.
"We're obviously shooting for a championship," Hagen said.
Team owner Tom Kramig says it's a home run every time Hagen starts.
"It is so cool to have a guy who grew up here, followed the Indians, knew about the Crushers. His family comes out to every game, buddies come out to every game," Kramig said.
As for Hagen, he's just ready for the season to get underway.
"We open up against Joliet. We hope to have a good showing of fans," Hagen said.