St. Joseph fell just short of its bid to play for a state championship as the Bears fell 6-5 to the No. 5-ranked Bay City John Glenn Bobcats in a Michigan High School Athletic Asosciation Division 2 baseball state semifinal game at C.O. Brown.
St. Joseph (32-10), which plays in the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference, led by four runs with two innings to play. But the Bobcats rallied, sending the game into extra innings where Bay City John Glenn’s Zach Olszewski played the hero, knocking in the game-winning run with a line drive hit to right field.
Olszewski also got the job done on the mound as the junior got a complete-game victory, striking out eight batters while allowing three earned runs.
“(Olszewski) is 9-1 on the year now and he’s just a bulldog for us,” said Bobcats head coach Jeff Hartt. “We knew St. Joseph could hit the ball and Zach got hit around a little bit in the first inning. But after that he settled down and took care of business. So he pitched a nice ball game and, of course, had the big hit, too.”
St. Joseph, winners of the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference’s West Division, were riding high after knocking off No. 1-ranked Gull Lake and Coldwater in the regionals and then Chelsea in the quarterfinals.
“We played a great schedule all year round to get prepared for this run and when we went up against Gull Lake. Nobody gave us a shot, but we knew we were going to beat them and that’s all you need to have is a little belief,” said St. Joseph head coach Eric Danapilis. “Today we had it, we just couldn’t close the deal.”
St. Joseph got to the Bobcats early as it scored three runs in the first inning on four consecutive two-out hits. Nicholas Lawrence got things started with a two-out single up the middle. The next hitter, Anthony Montoya roped a double down the leftfield line and Jacob Trumbley and Jacob Fratzke followed with back-to-back RBI singles.
The Bears picked up another run in the fourth when Fratzke scored on an RBI-double by Taylor Hatfield, making the score 4-0.
But Bay City John Glenn put on its rally caps in the bottom of the sixth as they came up with a huge inning, scoring four runs on two-out, two-RBI base hits by Brendan Seymour and Austin Dingee.
Both teams picked up one run in the seventh inning, making the score 5-5 to set up the extra innings.
In the bottom of the eighth Bay City John Glenn’s Aaron Martin reached on an error and advanced to second on a Brandon Vittitow sacrifice bunt, setting up Olszewski for the game-winning RBI.
“We’ll be back in a year or two,” Danapilis said. “It hurts when you lose like that, but the kids played their hearts out and that’s all you can ask.”
More Division 2
Grand Rapids Christian defeated Dearborn Divine Child, 4-0. Alex VandeVusse earned the win for Grand Rapids Christian, throwing five-plus innings, allowing just three hits. Taylor Pruis had two hits for Grand Rapids Christian, which improves to 35-5.
Warren DeLaSalle defeated Howell in one semifinal, 3-2. Kevin Carroll earned the win, pitching a complete game and scattering five hits while striking out six. Reed Carnagie had two hits for Warren DeLaSalle, which goes to 20-22-1.
In the other semifinal, Hudsonville defeated Saline, 4-3. Hudsonville scored two runs in the fourth inning to take the lead. Blake Hibbitts earned the win for Hudsonville, which improves to 32-5.
Madison Heights Bishop Foley defeated Saginaw Nouvel, 6-2, in one semifinal. Bishop Foley broke through for five runs in the second inning to take a lead it wouldn’t give up. Garrett Schilling earned the win from the mound, allowing two runs over seven innings. Schilling also drove in three runs for Bishop Foley, which goes to 37-3.
In the other semifinal, Lansing Catholic defeated Mancelona, 8-1. Lansing Catholic scored five runs in the fifth inning to take control in the game. Mike DeClarke earned the win, scattering five hits and allowing one run in six innings DeClarke also drove in two runs as Lansing Catholic improves to 31-6.
Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett defeated Rudyard, 15-3, to advance to the finals in a mercy-rule five inning contest. Connor Fannon earned the win for the Knights, who improve to 25-3.
In the other semifinal, Decatur defeated Muskegon Catholic Central, 3-2. Decatur scored two runs in the top of the seventh inning to rally for the win. J.T. Kowaski earned the win, pitching a complete-game two-hitter for Decatur which goes to 35-6.