EAST LANSING – It’s not often one hears “chaos” and “best moment of my life” in the same sentence, but that’s how Montana Essian describes winning a state title.
The Sterling Heights Parkway infielder got the final force-out at second base and immediately realized he was at the bottom of a championship dogpile.
“I don’t know what happened, it was crazy, everyone was jumping on everybody,” said Essian, who got spiked in the melee and had blood dripping from his finger. “It was an incredible feeling, I would not trade it for anything. It was awesome.”
Parkway’s offense was just as awesome, amassing 13 hits in a 10-3 rout of Portland St. Patrick. Eight different players hit their way on base while seven batted in at least one run.
“All postseason we were hitting the ball real hard, and we’ve been getting hot, hitting doubles through the gap, and getting the small-ball. It’s just great,” said catcher Austin Fuller, who was 2-for-2 and scored three runs.
Fuller started off three different Eagle outbursts: he had a leadoff single in a five-run second inning, doubled to deep left and scored in the third, and walked and scored in the fifth, when the game was well in hand.
“Offensively, getting off to an early start has been our key the whole week, especially,” Parkway coach Rich Koch said. “Tuesday (in the quarterfinals) we got out to an 8-0 lead after two innings, (Friday) we were off to a 4-0 lead after one, and today it was 5-0 after two innings, and that’s huge. It allows the guys a chance to settle in and not press too much.”
The Eagles batted around in the second, plating five on five hits. The head start made it hard for St. Patrick (23-8) to battle back.
“We had a couple of opportunities to dent it, I don’t know if we ever had the opportunity to take back the lead. We had the bases loaded with one out, a guy on third with one out,” Shamrocks coach Bryan Scheurer said. “We knew we had to chip. We’re not an explosive, explosive team, and we left those opportunities out there early.”
Koch, in his sixth season with Parkway, said his team has made several deep playoff runs recently, and one day the Eagles (23-11-1) were bound to put it all together.
“The last two years we’ve felt like we had state championship talent, but talent doesn’t win games,” he said. “You’ve got to show up, you’ve got to bring the energy every game, and these guys — from game one of districts to game seven today — just played fantastic.”
This was the first state title of any kind for the small faith-based school which was created 10 years ago by the merger of Warren Bethesda and Warren Zoe Christian.
“That’s the first time we have ever won as a school,” Fuller said. “We’re glad to bring it home, and I can come back and say, yeah, I was on that team.”