Any time city rivals Lakeview and Harper Creek meet in athletic events, fans expect lots of excitement.
The Spartans and Beavers didn’t disappoint on a sunny-yet-breezy Saturday in the 42nd Cereal City Diamond Baseball Classic at Bailey Park.
The two schools played their way into the tourney’s title game via early-round victories, and in the title tilt, Lakeview defeated Harper Creek 5-1 to defend it’s city crown (with this marking only the second straight year that the tourney featured only city teams).
The Spartans and Beavers were scoreless in the championship game until the top of the fifth, when Lakeview made it 1-0. The Spartans then scored three more times in the sixth and once in the seventh. Harper Creek’s lone run came in the bottom of the seventh.
“It was just a good game played by two good teams, and with the wind blowing hard like it was today, it was tough to get anything going against their starting pitcher (Joe) Stasa,” said Lakeview coach Jeff Sovern.
“But in the end, we got a couple of breaks, Jake (Lakeview shortstop Bivens) got us out of a mess in the bottom of the sixth when they had the bases loaded and he made just a great play to throw out their guy for the third out … and overall, I’m just proud of my boys. I’m glad we could come out on top.”
The Bivens play that Sovern referred to was a web gem. Bivens, headed to the University of Michigan next fall on a baseball scholarship, charged hard to his left on a grounder by Harper Creek’s Jeremiah Davis with two out and the bases jammed — and threw a strike to first baseman Jake Herbers that just nipped Davis at the bag.
“That play there, some other plays Lakeview made defensively — as well as some errors we made during the game and us leaving too many men on base — it all added up for us today. We just didn’t come through in certain situations today, and Lakeview did,” said Harper Creek coach Chad Dishaw, whose Beavers earlier this season split with Lakeview in SMAC East play (winning 3-1 and losing 4-3).
“But hey, that’s the way it goes some days. Both Harper Creek and Lakeview have great baseball programs, it was a great day for baseball… and the only thing I could wish for differently is if we had played a little better and took advantage of some situations.”
Lakeview (23-3) stranded two runners on base in the second inning off Stasa and two more in the third before breaking the scoreless deadlock in the fifth as Evan Eldridge had an infield single and moved to second on a throwing error. Eldridge was then sacrificed to third by Skyler Nichols, and came home when a ground ball by Bivens was misplayed.
The Spartans’ three-run sixth started when Camden Hames singled off Stasa, which brought on reliever Ben Sellen. After a fielder’s choice and a walk, Nate Jones hit an RBI single, and two more runs later came around on a single by Travis Snyder and an error.
Lakeview’s final run, in the seventh, was produced via an RBI single by the left-handed hitting Bivens.
Hunter Bost started on the mound for Lakeview, and tossed four shutout innings. Hames relieved to start the fifth, and pitched until he was hit on his right pitching arm on a line drive off the bat of the Beavers’ Noah Eckert to start bottom of the seventh.
Jones then came in from center field to pitch, and Harper Creek (10-10) got its run on an RBI infield single by Turner Shaw.
Lakeview made it to the title game by downing Pennfield 9-0 in its opener.
Harper Creek reached the championship showdown by defeating St. Philip 7-1.
Also, in earlier games, St. Philip topped Battle Creek Central 5-2, and Pennfield beat BCC 10-3.
For St. Philip in its win over the Bearcats, Blake Groat struck out 12 on the mound in seven innings; and at the plate, Zach Spiegla had a triple and an RBI, Hunter Haley had two hits, and with one hit each were Evan Hanna, Brendan Gausselin, Nick Hurst and Groat.
For the Tigers (10-8) in their loss to Pennfield, Gausselin went 5 2/3 innings on the mound and allowed six hits. Offensively, Gausselin, Hurst and Zach Nelson (RBI) had hits.
For BCC in its loss to St. Philip, Nick Cramer took the mound setback; and at the plate, Riley Cramer had two singles. In the Bearcats’ loss to Harper Creek, White was the losing pitcher; Jarred Miller had three singles and an RBI; and Gillum had a double.