Portland and Eaton Rapids have earned the top seeds in the 53rd annual Dean Shippey Capital Diamond Classic field that was announced Tuesday.
The field also includes Grand Ledge and East Lansing from the CAAC Blue, Haslett, St. Johns and DeWitt from the CAAC Red, and Potterville from the CMAC. Defending champion Lansing Catholic joins Portland from the CAAC White, and Charlotte joins CAAC Gold rival Eaton Rapids among the mid-Michigan area high school baseball teams selected by the Capital Diamond Classic committee.
The tournament opens with two games at Kircher/Municipal Park on Monday. Quarterfinals follow at Kircher/Municipal Park on May 21 and at Cooley Law School Stadium on May 22.
Portland (17-2) and Eaton Rapids (17-3) received byes to the May 22 quarterfinals.
“I’m pretty excited that our kids will have a chance to start right out at Cooley Law School Stadium,” Portland coach John Davids said. “Two of the better teams in the Lansing area (Lansing Catholic and DeWitt) will play before us (5:30 Monday at Kircher/Municipal Park). It’s a challenge, and we look forward to it.
“I think our kids are really confident. But it’s a big stage, a big arena. We have five underclassmen and one senior who didn’t play last year, and this is going to be a new experience for them. We have some kids who are going to have large eyes when they walk out there for the first time.”
Eaton Rapids will face the winner of Monday’s 7:30 p.m. contest between St. Johns (17-4) and East Lansing (14-8).
“It’s exciting for the kids and the community. It’s a great honor to be placed up there with Portland and other great teams,” Greyhounds first-year coach Rick Acker said. “Getting the bye helps us a lot, because we have a big conference (CAAC Gold) doubleheader with Mason on Monday. Getting to play on Thursday helps us with pitching. Pitching and playing good defense have been the keys to our success all year.”
In the May 21 quarterfinals at Kircher/Municipal Park, Haslett (15-6) faces 23-time Diamond Classic champion and 2013 runner-up Grand Ledge (17-7) at 5:30 p.m. before Charlotte (18-4) meets Potterville (15-5).
Diamond Classic committee members believe Potterville is either a first-time participant or is in the field for the first time since the 1970s. The State Journal was unable to reach current or former Potterville athletic staff who could confirm one or the other.
Next Wednesday and Thursday’s quarterfinal winners advance to the semifinals at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. on Monday, June 2, at Cooley Law School Stadium. The championship game, at the same site, will follow at 7 p.m. the next day.
Rain dates are June 4 and 5 at Kircher/Municipal Park.
Eaton Rapids went 7-1 and Portland is 5-1 against teams in the Diamond Classic field.
“I don’t think that there is a dominant team in the Lansing area,” Davids said. “If you look at the records, this is the tournament with the most parity in quite some time. There are four or five teams that can win this thing.”
The Raiders are coming off a sweep of Grand Ledge last Saturday in Grand Rapids.
“Last year when we lost to Grand Ledge (9-4 in nine innings in a Diamond Classic semifinal), it was a huge step for us, but the two wins this year validated our program,” Davids said. “Still, you’ve got to be honest. It fell where Grand Ledge had to throw their No. 3 and No. 4 (pitchers), and we had the opportunity to throw our No. 1 and 2. How your pitchers fall into place is either a huge advantage or huge disadvantage in those games, and we definitely had an advantage.”
Who pitches in Diamond Classic games is important as well, and it depends many times on who pitches as teams try to compete for league, district and regional titles.
“It just depends on how our district falls into place,” Davids said. “It looks like our No. 1 or 2 (pitcher) can throw that first game.”
The Diamond Classic semifinals will come just two days after May 31 district semifinals and finals.
“You have to give your kids the opportunity for a state tournament run,” Davids said. “But we’re not going to be making excuses if we’re throwing (our No.) 3 or 4 in the Diamond Classic semifinals. Those kids can pitch too, and we have to hit it and play defense and play the game.”
The other teams who make the semifinals may also be in the same situation.
“The playing field is open and fair,” Davids said. “Sometimes a break for the Diamond Classic is a loss in the districts, and sometimes you have the depth to overcome things like that, as teams in the past have.”
Staff writer Scott Yoshonis contributed to this report.
53RD ANNUAL CAPITAL DIAMOND CLASSIC
Monday, May 19, at Kircher/Municipal Park
Lansing Catholic (11-8) vs. DeWitt (12-9), 5:30 p.m.
St. Johns (17-4) vs. East Lansing (14-8), 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, May 21, quarterfinals at Kircher/Municipal Park
Grand Ledge (17-7) vs. Haslett (15-6), 5:30 p.m.
Charlotte (18-4) vs. Potterville (15-5), 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, May 22, quarterfinals at Cooley Law School Stadium
Portland (17-2) vs. Lansing Catholic or DeWitt, 5:30 p.m.
Eaton Rapids (17-3) vs. St. Johns or East Lansing, 7:30 p.m.
Monday, June 2, semifinals at Cooley Law School Stadium
Portland, Lansing Catholic or DeWitt vs. Grand Ledge or Haslett, 5:30 p.m.
Eaton Rapids, St. Johns or East Lansing vs. Charlotte or Potterville, 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, June 3, championship at Cooley Law School Stadium
Semifinal winners, 7 p.m.
NOTE: Rain dates are June 4-5 at Kircher/Municipal Park
DIAMOND CLASSIC CHAMPIONS
2013 – Lansing Catholic
2012 – Grand Ledge
2011 – Grand Ledge
2010 – Grand Ledge
2009 – Grand Ledge
2008 – DeWitt
2007 – Okemos
2006 – Grand Ledge
2005 – Holt
2004 – Charlotte
2003 – Grand Ledge
2002 – Grand Ledge
2001 – Grand Ledge
2000 – Holt
1999 – East Lansing
1998 – Grand Ledge
1997 – Grand Ledge
1996 – Grand Ledge
1995 – Grand Ledge
1994 – Grand Ledge
1993 – Grand Ledge
1992 – Grand Ledge
1991 – Sexton
1990 – Grand Ledge
1989 – Howell
1988 – Everett
1987 – Grand Ledge
1986 – Lansing Catholic
1985 – Waverly
1984 – Grand Ledge
1983 – Everett
1982 – Waverly
1981 – Grand Ledge
1980 – Grand Ledge
1979 – Harry Hill
1978 – Harry Hill
1977 – Everett
1976 – Waverly
1975 – Waverly
1974 – Grand Ledge
1973 – East Lansing
1972 – East Lansing
1971 – Eastern
1970 – Everett
1969 – Eastern
1968 – Eastern
1967 – Everett
1966 – Everett
1965 – Grand Ledge
1964 – Howell
1963 – Grand Ledge
1962 – Everett