Jack Ferguson, P-OF, Stevenson: It’s easy to see why Saginaw Valley State University signed Ferguson to play for its baseball program beginning later this year.
The senior second team all-state selection hit .438 with 31 RBIs, 39 runs scored, 53 hits and four home runs. On the mound, he sparkled with a 2.39 earned-run average.
“Jack had a great season on the field, on the mound and at the plate,” coach Rick Berryman said. “He was a major reason for our team’s success.”
Patrick Downing, OF, Plymouth: The senior was a go-to player all season for the Wildcats, whether at the plate, in the outfield or on the mound.
Downing batted .445 with five homers and 35 RBIs, clubbing a big three-run home run against Livonia Franklin to help clinch the KLAA South Division title.
He also posted a 5-0 pitching record, with a 1.45 earned-run average and 33 strikeouts in 33-plus innings.
“Patrick was a game-changer for us all year, providing clutch hit after clutch hit,” coach Jason Crain said. “He had a strong presence on the mound and rose to the occasion several times as a starter.”
His efforts landed him spots on the all-KLAA and all-district teams. Downing will play baseball at Concordia University.
David Vinsky, OF, Harrison: The junior center fielder set single-season school records with 61 hits and 16 doubles this year. He batted .484 with seven doubles and 33 RBIs.
He also had 18 stolen bases and scored 34 runs. Vinsky, who batted in the third spot, had 12 two-out RBIs and hit .583 with runners in scoring position.
As a pitcher, he was 4-1 with one save and a 2.16 ERA. He started five games, appeared in seven and worked 321/3 innings
“David had a great season and has had a great career thus far,” coach Pete Lamerato said of the three-year varsity player. “Sixty-one hits and 16 doubles puts him in a select group in the state, let alone the area.
“David is one of the best hitters I’ve been around, and he plays a very good center field. Pitching-wise, he was very consistent and had a great year on the mound. He’s a solid starter, an all-round great baseball player.”
Evan McMurray, OF, N. Farmington: McMurray started in center field for two seasons and was instrumental in the Raiders winning 20-plus games and contending for the OAA White Division crown each year. He moved to third base late in the last season and excelled there defensively, too.
McMurray batted .378 with nine doubles, two triples and two home runs. He also drove in 28 runs and led the team in every offensive category. He had an on-base percentage of .440 and scored 35 runs.
“He hit for average; he hit for power,” coach Mike O’Connell said. “He’s just a great kid, very coachable. I can’t say enough good things about him.
“He was our No. 3 hitter the last two years and was an all-round good player from every aspect – offense to defense to stealing bases. He was as close as it comes to a five-tool guy.
“Other guys may hit for a higher average than him, but Evan always came through when we needed a key hit to drive in the winning run.”
Alex Manasa, OF, Farmington: From the lead-off position, the junior center fielder batted .398 and scored 39 runs. He had 17 doubles, four triples and three home runs among his 53 hits. Manasa also had 18 stolen bases and 28 RBIs.
He was flawless defensively with 59 putouts, nine assists and zero errors. On the mound, he had six saves, 37 strikeouts and six walks in 231/3 innings. He also had a 2.63 ERA and 1.19 WHIP.
“He’s a tremendous player with tremendous speed,” coach Pete Finn said, adding he saw the ability Manasa had as a freshman and moved him to the varsity early that year.
“He has a great arm. He threw out a bunch of guys at the plate from center field. He works hard, comes to practice every day and has a great attitude. I think he can do a lot in the sport of baseball if he continues to work at it.
“He hits for power and average. He was our lead-off hitter, so he got us going in the right direction all the time. He definitely has a chance to play at the next level.”
Pete Carravallah, OF, Plymouth: Whenever the Wildcats needed a jolt of energy, Carravallah usually delivered, with a .441 average, .532 on-base percentage and 20 stolen bases.
The junior outfielder also played stellar defense as Plymouth tied a school record for victories and won division and district titles.
“Pete was a catalyst batting second in our lineup,” Crain said. “A vocal leader, Pete consistently grinded out great at-bats and put pressure on the opposition with speed on the base paths.”
Carravallah was named to the all-KLAA, all-district and academic all-district teams.
Josh Penn, SS, Salem: The senior shortstop was an offensive and defensive standout for the Rocks under first-year head coach John Wright.
Penn led the team in average (.409) and hits to cap off a superb third season on varsity.
“Penn’s just been solid like this all year,” Wright said following a game when Penn hit his first-ever varsity home run. “He hits the ball hard. The kid hits the ball harder than anybody I’ve really seen.”
One of four players who comprised Salem’s first group of baseball captains, Penn was named to the all-conference and all-district squads.
Tyler Brooks, 1B-P, Salem: The third-year varsity player pretty much did it all for the Rocks in his senior season.
On offense, he hit .390 to often spark rallies and was a strong performer as a starting pitcher, posing a 1.06 earned-run average in 59 innings.
Brooks, another Salem co-captain, earned selection to the all-KLAA and all-district teams.
Also a stellar player for Salem’s varsity boys basketball team, Brooks is looking to play college baseball at Division II Northwood University.
Brendan Wetmore, P-OF, John Glenn: The senior lefty had a spectacular final season as he earned all-conference, all-regional and all-district honors after posting a .355 batting average with 34 runs scored and 34 stolen bases.
Wetmore was a force on the mound as well, tossing the school’s first no-hitter since 1996 while striking out 78 in 66 innings with an ERA of 1.06. Wetmore has committed to play collegiate baseball at Wayne State University.
“Brendan did it all for us this season,” coach Lawrence Scheffer said. “He has been a tremendous leader for our team, both on and off the field.”
Adrian Reed, pitcher/shortstop, Franklin: Reed was one of the resurgent Patriots’ leaders wherever he was stationed on the diamond. He hit a robust .352 with an on-base percentage of .421.
A slick fielder, he displayed great range when he played shortstop and he was a mainstay on the mound, picking up four wins with a 2.98 earned-run average.
Reed’s ERA was a miniscule 1.50 until his season-ending relief stint in Franklin’s Division 1 district final loss to Dearborn, when he gave up six runs while pitching on just two days’ rest.
Andrew Hejka, 2B, Plymouth: A steady all-around contributor to the Wildcats’ success, the senior batted .368 and posted a .531 on-base percentage.
Hejka also proved to be a threat on the base paths with 20 stolen bases.
“Andrew has been our lead-off hitter for two years straight providing a spark at the top of our lineup,” Crain said. “Andrew always finds a way on base.”
The smooth-fielding second baseman, who will attend the University of Michigan, was named to the all-KLAA, all-district and academic all-district teams.
Vinnie Bakerian, SS, Garden City: The junior was a pitcher’s nightmare this spring as he raked to the tune of a .460 average. He delivered power in clutch situations, finishing with six doubles, two triples and a home run while scoring 24 runs and knocking in 20. Bakerian registered a phenomenal .602 on-base percentage and stole nine bases.
“Vinnie was our best player this year,” coach Steve Herman said. “He led us in hitting, as the statistics show. He also led us defensively, mostly playing shortstop and being our rock up the middle. He is a quiet leader, but a leader that everyone on our team and in our program would follow.
“Vinnie is a great young man and always represents himself well. I look forward to coaching him next season, one in which I strongly believe he has a great chance of being an all-state player.”
Trevor Friday, P, Harrison: As the No. 1 starter for the Hawks, Friday posted a 5-2 record and 2.16 earned-run average. He had 42 strikeouts and 22 walks in 42 innings.
Friday, who will pitch for Saginaw Valley State University next year, was often used as the designated hitter, too. He batted .277 with six doubles, 16 RBIs and 13 runs scored.
“Trevor had a great season on the mound, going up against number ones all season,” Lamerato said. “He battled and kept us in many games, defeating North Farmington twice (second time in the district).
“He was a true No. 1 pitcher. His fastball is a firm 86-87 mph with command. Trevor wanted the ball against the other team’s best all season.”
Kevin Anthony, P, Plymouth: One of the Wildcats’ senior leaders, Anthony made a huge impact on the team’s fortunes in 2015.
He was a stalwart on the mound, going 7-3 with a 1.28 earned-run average while fanning 47 batters in 60 innings of work.
“Kevin got the ball in almost all of our big games, consistently stepping up to take on strong opponents,” Crain said. “A composed pitcher, Kevin navigated his way to a great senior season against some of the stiffest competition.”
Anthony, who will go to Michigan Tech University, was named to the all-KLAA, all-district and academic all-district teams.
Vince Diaz, P-1B, Redford Union: Diaz was the most valuable player for the Panthers as they captured their second consecutive Western Wayne Athletic Conference Red Division title. A southpaw, Diaz chalked up a 7-3 record on the mound with one no-hitter an ERA of 1.23. Hitting-wise, Diaz chiseled out a .463 batting average with 20 RBI, five doubles and 30 hits.
“Vince was our workhorse all year,” coach Bob Miller said. “He pitched well and was our No. 3 hitter. Vince’s leadership on the field and with the younger players was a major reason for our team success this year.”
Gordon Ferguson, P-INF, Stevenson: The junior was a two-way standout for the Spartans, racking up a .404 batting average with 21 RBIs, 21 runs and 42 hits, while crafting a 7-2 record on the mound with an ERA of 2.21.
“Gordon really came into his own this season, with great play in the field, he pitched great and exceeded all expectations with his hitting,” Berryman said. “He was easily the most improved player at Stevenson.”
Nick Campbell, C, Farmington: The senior backstop was a three-year starter for the Falcons and was solid defensively with just two errors. He had 94 putouts and 15 assists.
A four-year starter, Campbell batted .356 with eight doubles and accounted for 23 runs. He had 34 RBIs and a .444 slugging percentage.
“Nik started a bunch of games as a freshman, and he has really grown and developed,” Finn said. “He’s good with his feet. He’s a really agile guy behind the plate. He holds the target well for the pitchers.
“He was a really good receiver and blocker. He gets a lot of strikes called that a lot of catchers don’t. He knows how to handle the glove at the very end of the pitch.
“He’s been fantastic for us for four years. Nik was always very enthusiastic about learning the position. He’s not a very big guy, but he grew over the years into that job. We’re going to miss him a lot.”
COACH OF THE YEAR
Jason Crain, Plymouth: In his second season as head baseball coach for the Wildcats, Crain presided over a team that tied a school record for victories (27).
Plymouth captured the KLAA South Division crown and followed that with the program’s first-ever district title. The Wildcats ultimately were ousted by No. 1-ranked Saline in a regional semifinal.
According to Crain, a standout at Canton who played at Alma College, a nucleus of excellent seniors enabled the Wildcats to deliver a consistent, all-around brand of baseball.
“I’m most proud of the foundation this team has put in place,” Crain said. “This senior class won 52 games over the last two years and has set the standard for future teams. After reaching the regionals … (players who will return in 2016) know and understand that the expectation is to return there and continue to build on what the previous teams started.”
Having stellar pitchers such as Kevin Anthony, Patrick Downing, Cameron Stella, Josh Sulak, Owen Spryszak and others didn’t hurt.
“Our pitching was great,” Crain said. “Day in and day out, our pitchers gave us a chance to win.”
Crain and assistant coaches Scott Niemiec and Beau Adams successfully instilled the mindset of “consistently putting pressure on the other team. We talk a lot about competing on every pitch, staying focused and mental toughness. All the players are talented. It is the little things in each game that will make the difference.”
He added that the dedication and coaching of Niemiec and Adams were instrumental in Plymouth having such an outstanding season.
Another factor was how the team battled against top non-KLAA opponents, “which helped us stay focused in every game and let us play in pressure situations against great teams and players all the time.”
Crain, 42, lives in Northville with his wife Melissa and four boys: Matthew, 14; Luke, 11; Ben, 11; and Andrew, 5.
Jack Ferguson, sr., Stevenson
Patrick Downing, sr., Plymouth
David Vinsky, jr., Harrison
Evan McMurray, sr., N. Farmington
Alex Manasa, jr., Farmington
Pete Carravallah, jr., Plymouth
Josh Penn, sr., Salem
Tyler Brooks, sr., Salem
Brendan Wetmore, sr., John Glenn
Adrian Reed, jr., Franklin
Andrew Hejka, sr., Plymouth
Vinnie Bakerian, jr., Garden City
Trevor Friday, sr., Harrison
Kevin Anthony, sr., Plymouth
Vince Diaz, sr., Redford Union
Gordon Ferguson, jr., Stevenson
Nik Campbell, sr., Farmington
Brian Martin, frosh., John Glenn
Frank Carlin, jr., Stevenson
Nick Romanauski, sr., Canton
Brett Kramer, sr., N. Farmington
Seth Hubbard, sr., Plymouth
Cameron Stella, jr., Plymouth
Nick Sprosek, jr., Canton
Brandon Gillen, sr., Salem
Mike Slater, sr., Ply. Christian
Tyler Harnos, sr., Wayne
Nick Montroy, sr., Garden City
Travis Kidd, sr., Garden City
Ryan Menifee, jr., Clarenceville
Alex Darden, jr., N. Farmington
Ravi Mahanti, sr., Farmington
Ryan Coucke, sr., Farmington
Tommy Williams, jr., Harrison
Nico Janigian, sr., Harrison
Rob Copciac, sr., Churchill
Jordan Williams, sr., Luth. Westland
Jared Fish, jr., N. Farmington
COACH OF THE YEAR
Jason Crain, Plymouth
Canton: Scott Bazner, Noah Spencer; Plymouth: Jared Merandi, Josh Sulak, Cory Burnette, Owen Spryszak, Kyle Wolter; Salem: Griffin Shiminski, Shane Prevo; Ply. Christian: Will Crecelius, Josh Slater, Tanner Hay, Austin Andres, Nick Andres; Churchill: Steve Szymanski, Jon Hovermale; Franklin: Tyler Camp, Kolby Dewhirst; Stevenson: Chris Tanderys; John Glenn: Zach Croft, Noah Damian; Wayne: Jimmy Herdon; Luth. Westland: Brandon Ruelle, Kory Barikmo; Farmington: Dan Carty, Collin Finn, Lance Lovett, Artie Bentley; N. Farmington: Will Buraconak, Joey Gignac; Harrison: Jared Char, Nick Bell; Clarenceville: Matt Drain, Nick Bisaro; Garden City: Matt Kindred, Tyler Kelly; Redford Union: Jacob Gagnon, Tommie Lewis; Thurston: Bobby Snell, Austin Benoit.