DeWitt defeated Grand Ledge twice during its fast start to the season.
The Panthers will get another shot at the Comets because they defeated Portland 5-2 in a Dean Shippey Diamond Classic quarterfinal on Thursday night at Cooley Law School Stadium. DeWitt will face Grand Ledge at 5:30 p.m. on June 2 at the home of the Lansing Lugnuts.
Sam Smith pitched six innings and started a four-run second inning with a single for the Panthers.
“He’s a veteran pitcher who has thrown a lot of innings for us,” DeWitt coach Alan Shankel said. “He did a great job tonight keeping them off-balance and digging down deep when he got into a little trouble.”
Smith finished 2 for 3 at the plate.
“Sam’s been double trouble for us this year,” Shankel said. “He’s our leading hitter. He really squares the ball up well. He’s added a lot of strength in the offseason that has made him a special hitter.”
Justin Stylgles knocked in the first two DeWitt runs with a double.
“In the second inning, he roped one down the line that was huge,” Shankel said. “That broke the ice, and let everyone know we could swing it against (Portland pitcher Andrew Click).”
Click faced just three Panther batters in the first, third, fourth and fifth innings.
“He got the ball up in the second inning, and they took advantage of it,” Portland coach John Davids said. “He was throwing hard, and they got the bat on the ball and hit it in the hole.”
The Raiders’ Auston Brandt hit a double and an RBI single in his first two at-bats, before narrowly missing a home run to left field.
His final at-bat was a game-ending double play.
DeWitt’s Chris Lowe fielded Brandt’s shot.
“We just recently inserted him there at third base,” Shankel said. “Chris Lowe’s done a great job for us. He started two really big double plays for us late in the sixth and seventh innings.”
So Portland, the top seed in the Diamond Classic, was narrowly eliminated.
“That’s baseball. It comes with the game,” Davids said. “We didn’t play that poorly, but they played better tonight.”
Shankel is pleased the Panthers, who beat Lansing Catholic 7-4 on Monday to reach the quarterfinals, will advance to the Diamond Classic semifinals.
“It’s special to get there, and know that you’re one of the last four in the Lansing area in this prestigious tournament,” he said.