Youngsters propel Orchard Lake St. Mary’s to state baseball championship

Orchard Lake St. Mary’s finished its season with a 31-game unbeaten streak en route to the MHSAA Division 2 state baseball championship, capping the season with an 8-1 victory of Grand Rapids Catholic Central to capture the title. (Photos by Wright Wilson | Special to Detroit Catholic)

University-Liggett, Brother Rice fall just short in title bids

EAST LANSING — Coming up just shy of a state championship in 2018 left a sour taste in the mouths of the Orchard Lake St. Mary’s baseball players.

But the Eaglets enjoyed the sweet taste of victory Saturday, defeating Grand Rapids Catholic Central 8-1 to win their fourth title in school history.

“To come back and win is pretty special,” coach Matt Petry said. “At the beginning of the year, we had three goals — it wasn’t to win ‘X’ amount of games — it was we want to win the Catholic League regular season, we did; we wanted to win the Catholic League tournament, we did; and we wanted to win the state championship, and we did.”

St. Mary’s returned the nucleus of the team that played eventual 2018 Division 2 state champion Stevensville-Lakeshore into extra innings in the semifinal, but it took the contributions of a couple of newcomers to put the Eaglets over the top this spring.

“Most of our guys were here last year and on a stage like that,” Petry said. “I thought Brock Porter, a freshman, and Nolan Schubart, a freshman, both came up pretty clutch today, and they were not on this stage last year. It was just being around those guys who were here last year.”

Petry said the young duo responded positively to team leadership from Dillon Kark, Harrison Poeszat and Jack Mooney (the team’s senior captains) as well as Logan Wood, Grant Henson and Alex Mooney.

Schubart was 2-for-3, driving in a run with a triple on Saturday, while Porter was the winning pitcher, allowing 5 hits over 6 innings, striking out 7.

Pandemonium erupts after Orchard Lake St. Mary’s records the final outs on a double play and wins the state baseball championship, 8-1, over Grand Rapids Catholic Central.

“I was just trying to throw my best and have my team behind me and just throw strikes whenever I could,” Porter said. “I was out there having fun with my teammates; I knew they had my back.”

The Eaglets scored two runs apiece in each of the first three innings, and that’s when the situation turned from jittery to fun, Porter added.

In addition, every member of the St. Mary’s batting order had at least one hit, while nobody struck out.

In Thursday’s semifinal, St. Mary’s had no trouble with Muskegon Oakridge in a six-inning 10-0 win, with Wood in command on the mound. The left-hander limited the Eagles to two hits in a complete-game effort. Wood threw strikes on 49 of his 66 pitches.

Alex Mooney broke the game open inning with a 2-RBI double in the fourth inning, when the Eaglets scored three times. St. Mary’s added four more in their next at-bat; Cole Sibley had the big hit with a triple that drove in two runs.

The Eaglets’ final record was 34-9-2. They started the year at 5-9, but put together a 31-game unbeaten streak lasting through the end of the season.

Homer shuts down Liggett in Division 3 final, 4-0

Grosse Pointe Woods University-Liggett coach Dan Cimini said Saturday’s championship pitting the Knights against Homer was “a great baseball game for six innings.”

Unfortunately for Cimini’s team, the damage was done in the first inning, when Homer crossed the plate four times to account for all the scoring in the game.

“They came out firing, and our pitcher really didn’t have his good stuff,” Cimini said. “Their team played with a ton of energy and made some really nice plays. I’m proud of these guys, but I’m also proud of Homer — they deserved it and did a great job.”

Billy Kopicki pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings in relief, yet the Knights were unable to make a dent in the four-run deficit.

“I thought their pitcher (Zach Butters) just pounded the strike zone and did a good job,” Cimini said. “We just didn’t get the big hits.”

University-Liggett reached the final via a 5-0 shutout of Gladstone on Friday.

Logan King hit a two-run home run to left field in the first inning, while Alec Azar carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning, only surrendering two safeties in a complete-game effort.

The Knights finished the year 24-10.

“Am I disappointed? Yeah. Am I disappointed in our team? Absolutely not,” Cimini said. “They made a phenomenal run; we’ve got a great group of guys, and we’ll be back again and be playing for another championship in the following years.”

Meanwhile, Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice saw its season end in Thursday’s semifinal round, falling 2-0 to Portage Northern in Division 1 play. While Brother Rice ace Tyler Sarkisian had a quality outing, surrendering just five hits, the Warriors could only manage three themselves against the Huskies’ Cam French.

The game was 0-0 into the bottom of the sixth, when Portage Northern scored twice. Nolan McCarthy’s triple scored Tyler Helgeson, and McCarthy later scored on a throwing error.

Bob Riker’s squad wound up 25-13.