District 9 Tournament at Kalamazoo Central
For the fifth time in six seasons, the Portage Northern baseball team has claimed a district championship. The Huskies topped eighth-ranked Mattawan 6-2 in the semifinal Saturday, followed by a 9-1 victory against crosstown rival Portage Central in the championship. The Mustangs made the final thanks to an 8-0 semifinal win against host Kalamazoo Central.
“It’s hard to say the greatest group of kids I’ve ever had, because I’ve had such great kids through the years,” said Portage Northern head coach Chris Andrews. “This is a special group. This group of seniors has stepped up with their leadership. The most selfless team I’ve ever had, for sure.”
Back on Tuesday, the Huskies were one out from elimination at St. Joseph, but rallied for a 10-7 win. On Saturday, Portage Northern used two complete games on the mound and stellar defense to advance to the regional round.
Portage Northern 6, Mattawan 2
Portage Central 8, Kalamazoo Central 0
Portage Northern 9, Portage Central 1
Gull Lake won the District 10 championship with wins over Battle Creek Lakeview and Jackson.
Gull Lake 4, Battle Creek Lakeview 3
Gull Lake 10, Jackson 1
*statistics were not reported
District 48 Tournament at Sturgis
Sturgis defended its own turf well, securing the District 48 title with wins over Three Rivers and Vicksburg.
Sturgis 12, Three Rivers 2 (six innings)
Powered by a dominant performance from starting pitcher Brecken Stewart, Sturgis rallied with some late-inning offense to pull away from Three Rivers, 12-2.
Sturgis trailed 1-0 headed to the fifth inning, where Three Rivers was able to expand its lead with a run in the top half of the fifth. The Trojans answered with three runs in the bottom half of the frame. Drew Murphy opened things up with an RBI single, with two outs. Stewart then reached on an error, and Korbin Whitcomb came through with a double, driving in two runs.
In the sixth inning, Sturgis exploded for nine runs, thanks to six hits, four walks, and one hit batsman. Steward and Sam Leck both doubled in the inning, with each hit bringing in a pair of runs.
Brayden Bathgate had 2 RBI for Sturgis, while Jake Abbs, Murphy and Tony Harper brought in one run each.
Three Rivers opened the scoring with a run in the first inning. Leadoff hitter Richard Scare reached on an error and ultimately advanced to third base. He scored shortly after, on a based ball. From there, Stewart would settle in, not allowing another run until the fifth inning.
Stewart was efficient, needing only 64 pitches to get through six innings of work. He had a pair of strikeouts, and allowed two runs on three hits – neither of the runs were earned runs.
Ashley Manansala had the lone RBI for the Wildcats, bringing in a run in the fifth inning. Parker Elefritz had the third hit for Three Rivers.
W- Brecken Stewart: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K
L- Carter Minger: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K
Vicksburg 3, Harper Creek 2 (eight innings)
In the semifinal matchup against Harper Creek, Vicksburg came away with two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to sneak away with the 3-2 win.
The game was tied 1-1 going into extra innings, and Harper Creek took the lead with one run in the top half of the eighth inning.
Caleb Conklin reached base on an error, leading off the inning for Vicksburg. Trevor Pryson reached on a bunt, and Conklin advanced to third. Cole Mallery hit a sac fly to tie the game. After a fly ball out, Nick Swope was intentionally walked to move the winning run to second base. Ryan Verner made Harper Creek pay for that decision, coming through with a ground ball single to left field, bringing in Pryson for the winning run.
Adam Henderson had a strong day on the mound for Vicksburg, going 7 1/3 innings, with 11 strikeouts. Henderson allowed two runs on six hits, and issued two walks.
Conklin had an RBI for Vicksburg, opening the scoring in the third inning.
Sturgis 5, Vicksburg 2
In the final, Sturgis held off a late rally, besting Vicksburg by a score of 5-2.
The Trojans took an early lead, scoring two runs in the bottom of the second inning, despite not having a hit. Avery Cleveland opened the inning with a walk, and Tony Harper reached base on an error after laying down a bunt. Sturgis put the sacrifice bunt on again, as Parker Stevens laid one down to advance the runners to second and third. A ground ball from Sam Leck then scored a pair, aided by an error from Vicksburg second baseman Mike Tultz.
Sturgis scored three runs in the bottom of the fourth inning, pushing its lead to 5-0. Jake Abbs brought in a run with a double to left field. Brayden Bathgate brought in a pair on a single to center field, and was thrown out trying to extend the play at third base to end the inning.
Vicksburg had a busy sixth inning, when the Bulldogs got on the scoreboard on a single from Nick Swope. Vicksburg had the bases loaded with one out, but a ground ball led to a fielder’s choice, with the out coming at home plate. Swope singled, and brought in two runs. Garrett Ketelaar singled to load the bases back up, but Abbs took over on the mound for Sturgis, and coaxed Austin Bresnahan into a pop up to end the threat.
Vicksburg out-hit Sturgis 10-8, but five errors and three walks issued played a significant role in the game. Starting pitcher Joey McCowen allowed five runs, but only one of them was earned, while allowing eight hits and issuing three walks over six innings of work.
Sturgis utilized three different pitchers, with Sam Leck getting the win. Leck pitched three shutout innings, allowing five hits while finishing with five strikeouts. Brecken Stewart pitched 2 2/3 innings in relief, allowing both Vicksburg runs. Abbs finished the game on the mound, allowing one hit and no runs over the final 1 1/3.
Leck had 2 RBI for Sturgis, as did Brayden Bathgate. Abbs went 3-for-4 with a double and drove in one run.
Trevor Pryson had three hits, including a double, for Vicksburg. Caleb Conklin went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles.
Sturgis moves on to face Stevensville Lakeshore in the Regional 12 semifinal on June 9.
W- Sam Leck: 3.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K
L- Joey McCowen: 6.0 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 2 K
District 79 at Comstock
For the fourth-straight season, the Schoolcraft baseball team is a district champion.
The Eagles (17-11) laid claim to the District 79 title with wins over Parchment and host Comstock, as pitching ruled the day for Schoolcraft.
“Both pitchers threw extremely well today, and we played good defense behind them,” said head coach Larry Phelps. “Pitching, defense, and timely hitting.”
Schoolcraft 10, Lawton 0 (five innings)
In the semifinal matchup with Lawton, Schoolcraft threw freshman pitcher Alex Thole on the bump, and he delivered.
Thole threw five shutout innings, had five strikeouts, and allowed only three hits. Thole jumped up early in the count often, as 15 of the 18 batters he faced saw a first-pitch strike.
The freshman admitted to being nervous before the game, but was quick to get acclimated.
“Once I got dialed in, it’s just baseball,” Thole said.
“Just trying to hit spots and throw strikes.”
Thole did that well, throwing 45 of his 52 pitches for strikes.
“Alex being a freshman, that’s a lot of weight on his shoulders going into a playoff game,” said Jack Hunt. “I think he did an amazing job stepping into that.”
Offensively, the Eagles started slowly, but eventually backed up their freshman pitcher with an eight-run third inning that blew the game open.
“(Lawton) threw a pretty good pitcher at us,” said Phelps. “I think the second time through the order we started to get on him. We’ve got some people who can run, so once we can get on base we’re able to steal some bases and try to push the pace a bit.”
Connor Nutt went 2-for-3 with a double, 2 RBI and two runs scored to lead the Eagles. Wyatt Adams, Mark Shaink, Jack Hunt and Austin Edwards all added 1 RBI each. As for moving runners along, Schoolcraft did have three stolen bases, as Adams, Edwards and Jett Gott each swiped a bag.
W- Alex Thole: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K
Comstock 3, Parchment 1
In the second semifinal matchup of the day, strong pitching propelled Comstock into the finals with a 3-1 win over Parchment.
Jared Plane pitched a complete game, allowing one run on five hits, while issuing two walks and totaling seven strikeouts.
Both teams finished with five hits, but Comstock was able to move runners along, led by Jack Kendall who had 2 RBI. TJ Reilly had 1 RBI and a double. Eric Miller reached base three times, hitting a single and drawing a pair of walks.
Comstock scored all three runs in the third inning. With two outs and a runner on first and second, Reilly poked a double to left field, scoring one run. Kendall followed that up with his single to right field, scoring two runs.
Parchment (20-13) got its first run on the board in the seventh inning, when Cameron Esman hit a two-out single, bringing in Josh Appelgren. With two on, Plane got Vinny Yado down on strikes to end the game.
W- Jared Plane: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K
L- Jacob Bielski: 4.1 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 8 K
Photos by Corey Rhodes
Schoolcraft 7, Comstock 1
In the final, Schoolcraft starting pitcher Mark Shaink found himself in an early hole.
The big right-hander fell behind in the first inning, as JT Reilly drove in an RBI to give Comstock an early 1-0 lead. Shaink would shake it off and cruise the rest of the way, leading Schoolcraft to the 7-1 win.
“He had a real nice day,” Phelps said of Shaink. “He’s just a bulldog on the mound. Strong, can throw forever. He struggled a bit early and had to weather the storm. He just bulldogs his way through it.”
Shaink finished with a strong line, as he went 6 2/3 innings, being pulled on pitch count before being able to finish the game. Shaink threw 107 pitches, had nine strikeouts, and only allowed one run on five hits.
“It’s nice to know your defense can back you up out there. As long as you throw strikes, the defense will do the rest,” Shaink said.
“Just trying to throw strikes and let the defense work. Get ground balls.”
Offensively, Schoolcraft wasn’t overwhelming, but they did rack up 11 hits, including a solo home run from Shaink, and a double from Dalton Adams. The Eagles had four players with 1 RBI each, and had three runs aided by Comstock errors.
Schoolcraft held a 2-1 lead after four innings, then added one run in the fifth, three runs in the sixth, and another run in the seventh when Shaink hit his solo shot to left field.
For the Eagles, two solid performances in a district tournament show how far they’ve come in their season-long battle with obtaining consistency.
“This season has kind of been a struggle, trying to maintain balance with pitching and hitting, and having consistency,” Hunt said. “Today, everybody showed up. We all kind of came together…playoff baseball is about coming together.”
“(There’s a) huge difference between even a month ago to where we are now,” Hunt added. “Everything is just falling into place. It just took a little bit longer than most teams.”
A year ago, Schoolcraft made a run all the way to the state semifinals, but had to replace 11 seniors from that team.
“Definitely coming into this year, we had a lot to live up to,” Hunt said. “We lost 11 seniors, that’s a lot of weight on us. We have a bunch of guys who had never even played varsity baseball. That just makes it so much sweeter.”
Schoolcraft will take the next step with a June 9 regional semifinal matchup with Buchanan. Suddenly booming with confidence, the Eagles are optimistic they can continue to make a run.
“We’re pretty confident. It’s all coming together now,” Shaink said. “We’re starting to hit, starting to make plays in the field. We trust each other out there to make plays.”
W- Mark Shaink: 6.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 5 BB, 9 K
L- Kyle Moore: 3.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K
District 80 Tournament at Bronson
Homer 8, Constantine 0
Constantine was held to one hit during an 8-0 loss to Homer in the District 80 semifinal round.
The lone hit from the Falcons came from Kolin Jones, who singled.
Homer was limited to seven hits, but also drew seven walks. Homer opened the scoring with a run in the second inning, and built a 4-0 lead after four innings. Homer then scored four runs over the final two innings.
W- Roth: 5.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 5 BB, 7 K
L- Jacob Derda: 3.0 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 6 BB, 3 K
District 115 Tournament at Kalamazoo Christian
A dominant season from Hackett Catholic will carry on to the regional round, as the Irish won the District 115 championship on Saturday.
The Irish (26-4-2) opened tournament play with a 5-2 win over Kalamazoo Christian, and toppled Lawrence in the finals, 11-3.
Hackett Catholic 5, Kalamazoo Christian 2
Trailing 1-0 through three innings, Hackett got its offense going, and scored at least one run over the final four innings, en route to the 5-2 win over Kalamazoo Christian.
Joe Carr played a predominant role in the win, making an impact on the mound and at the plate. Carr started and pitched all seven innings for Hackett, allowing two runs on seven hits. Carr also led the Irish with 2 RBI. Brenden Warner and Garrett Warner each added an RBI for Hackett, which had only six hits, but also drew seven walks.
With the game even at 2-2 after five innings, Hackett took the lead in the sixth inning when Garrett Warner drove in Carr on a sacrifice fly to center field. In the seventh inning, Hackett added a pair of insurance runs on a 2-RBI single from Carr.
Michael Moralez and Travis Pease each drove in a run for Kalamazoo Christian. Moralez had a pair of singles, as did Elliot Lemmer.
W- Joe Carr: 7.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K
L- Michael Moralez 2.0 IP, 1 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 2 K
Lawrence 15, Kalamazoo Heritage Christian 0
No statistical information was reported.
Hackett Catholic 11, Lawrence 3
Strong pitching and a late offensive surge helped secure the district title for Hackett, during the 11-3 win over Lawrence.
Leading 3-0, Hackett saw its lead cut to one when Lawrence scored two runs in the top of the fifth inning. The Irish responded with one run in the bottom half of the inning, then broke things open with a seven-run sixth inning to take a commanding lead.
Starting pitcher Keaton Ashby went the distance for Hackett, allowing three runs (one earned) on three hits. Ashby had six strikeouts, and did allow three walks.
Andrew Widger led Hackett in hits, going 3-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI. Eric Wenzel and Garrett Warner each drove in two runs. Ashby helped his cause with an RBI, while Stephen Kwapis and Brendan Warner each drove in one run as well.
Hackett drove in 12 hits collectively, and only left three runners stranded.
The Irish will travel to Decatur to face the host Raiders in the regional semifinals on June 9.
W- Keaton Ashby: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K
L- Dylan Matheny: 6.0 IP, 12 H, 11 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 7 K
District 111 Tournament at Climax-Scotts
Climax-Scotts 8, Battle Creek St. Philip 5
St. Philip led 5-2 in the bottom of the fifth and the Panthers scored three runs to tie the game. Climax-Scotts came up with three more runs in the sixth for the victory. Zach Tullis was the winning pitcher, allowing three hits with eight strikeouts.
Nathan Vickery finished with three hits, 1 RBI and two stolen bases, and Brock Borden had two hits and 3 RBI. Tullis contributed two hits (one double), 1 RBI and three runs scored. Dylan Butler finished with two hits and three runs scored.
Climax-Scotts 9, Bellevue 3
Jake Lane tossed five innings in the victory with just one hit allowed. He struck out four batters with no walks. Bryce Wetzel earned the save with one hit and three earned runs allowed. He logged five strikeouts for the Panthers.
Brock Borden registered two hits and 3 RBI, Andrew Elenga hadtwo hits (one double) and 1 RBI, Bryce Wetzel chipped in one hit (home run) and 2 RBI, and Zach Kienast added two hits.
District 114 Tournament at Decatur
Decatur 14, White Pigeon 0
Marcellus 4, Howardsville Christian 2
Decatur 9, Marcellus 0
No statistical information was reported.