Andrew Wright pitched a one-hitter, but it took a three-run rally in the sixth inning to lift Eaton Rapids to a 4-3 win over East Lansing on Thursday night.
The Greyhounds, who earned their first ever Dean Shippey Capital Diamond Classic victory, will return to Cooley Law School Stadium to face CAAC Gold rival Charlotte at 7:30 p.m. on June 2 in a semifinal.
“This game was truly a microcosm of our season,” Eaton Rapids coach Rick Acker said. “We battle, scratch and claw. Even at 3-1, I felt pretty good because we got some traffic on the basepaths and made some things happen.”
Blaine Milhelm’s second of three hits started the Greyhounds’ rally.
“I worked all week checking my swing because I’ve been in a big slump lately,” Milhelm said. “I slumped lower in my stance so I would stop moving my head so much.”
Acker was pleased for Milhelm.
“If there’s one guy I want at the plate, it’s him,” Acker said. “He’s a tough kid and a lot of fun to coach.”
A hit batter, three walks and an infield hit pushed the winning runs across the plate.
“We had some great at-bats that ended up in walks,” Acker said.
A walk by Wright, who had singled and was also safe on an error earlier, scored Milhelm.
But East Lansing, which had amassed 15 hits in a 13-3 Diamond Classic win over St. Johns on Monday, could only manage one against Wright.
“I was concentrating on throwing first-pitch strikes, and then the changeup came out of nowhere,” Wright said.
“I think he got stronger,” Acker said. “I went out in the fifth and checked on him. He said he was good, and he came back in the sixth with the eye of the tiger and said he was going to finish it.”
Wright said the Eaton Rapids win was “really big for our school. Last time I was here, when I was a sophomore, we lost our first game.”
Andy Petersmark’s single knocked in Tyler Gulick, who had walked, to put the Trojans ahead 1-0 in the second inning. They added two runs in the third on a single by Kaleb Eisenmann, two Greyhound errors and a wild pitch.
“We didn’t get the bats going tonight, and it’s a little disappointing because we made some mistakes that cost us, ” East Lansing coach Mark Pendred said. “But it was a good baseball game.”
Pendred was pleased with Trojans’ pitcher Benny Wood’s performance.
“The first five innings, he pitched pretty well,” he said. “He was around the plate all night.”
The East Lansing players look forward to playing at Cooley in the Diamond Classic, according to Pendred.
“It’s always fun to play here,” he said. “It’s a pretty big deal for us to get here and play. I just wish we had one more shot at it.”
Before Eaton Rapids meets Charlotte in a semifinal in a week and half, it has to compete in a tough Division 2 district that includes both Charlotte and Portland.
“We’re happy to move on, but now we’ve got to shift our attention back to Mason next Tuesday,” Acker said.