EAST LANSING – New Lothrop players and coaches will admit they’re not flashy, yet they get the job done. So it was business as usual Friday when the Hornets defeated defending Division 3 state champion Jackson Lumen Christi, 6-1.
“Instead of getting the big home runs or hits, we put a whole bunch of singles together for runs, just one run at a time,” first baseman Carter Hemgesberg said. “That’s how these games go now that we’re so far into it, and that’s why we’re going to keep going.”
Only one of the Hornets’ 10 hits went for extra bases, yet they put things together in an efficient fashion: eight different players contributed hits, four of the six runs came home from second on singles, and two of those were bloopers which barely cleared the infield.
“That’s part of what we work on: refuse to strikeout, put it in play and give yourself a chance,” New Lothrop coach Benjamin Almasy said. “A lot of those two-strike dingers were just reaching out and seeing what happens. That’s how we play. We don’t have enough bit hitters so we have to make do with what we have.”
The Hornets (41-3) strung their runs together, too, breaking open a tie game with two runs in the fourth and three more in the fifth.
“We saw a lot of strikes to the outside, we were just looking to drive the ball, and it paid off,” said third baseman Max Wendling, who drove runners home on two separate occasions. “Coach has been telling us all season when we get this deep in the playoffs, the pitching’s going to be tough and they’re going to be locating it down in the strike zone, both inside and out. That’s what we worked for and it paid out for us.”
It also helped that New Lothrop got a solid outing from senior Cam Pope, who went the distance and struck out six.
“We’re kind of a streaky team; we can have a one-run inning or maybe a six-run inning,” Pope said. “One of the innings we came out for three runs and that made it a lot less stressful (for me). Getting those three runs really helped. As soon as we get some runs, we’re trouble.”
Lumen Christi bows out at 25-14.
“Traditionally, our school is known for football and other things,” coach Phil Clifford said. “Our seven seniors have brought us here two years in a row and that’s a great accomplishment. I’m very proud of them.”