Lansing Catholic heard the chatter that it didn’t belong as part of this year’s Diamond Classic field.
It wanted to prove a point, and succeeded in making it Monday.
The Division 3 No. 9-ranked Cougars got strong pitching and fared well at the plate while opening the annual tournament with an 8-1 victory over DeWitt at Kircher Municipal Park.
“This means a lot,” said Riley Creamer, who earned the pitching win for Lansing Catholic. “I think we were kind of considered to be one of the ones that were not supposed to be in this, but winning today showed that we should be in here.”
The win sends Lansing Catholic to Thursday’s quarterfinal against Grand Ledge in what will be a matchup of the last two teams to win the Classic. Grand Ledge has won the tournament five of the last six years, which includes last season. Lansing Catholic won the Classic in 2013.
Lansing Catholic swept Grand Ledge earlier this month as part of a recent stretch where its played well.
“We started out the season pretty slow and I didn’t know how good of a season we were going to have,” Lansing Catholic junior Nic Olson. “We’ve really turned it on here. I think we’ve won eight out of our last nine and that’s something to be proud of. We’ve come out here and we’ve earned those wins.”
Olson was one of the players that helped the Cougars earn the win Monday, reaching base four times and drive in two runs.
Lansing Catholic got contributions from its entire lineup Monday as every starter reached base. Jake Szombati had two doubles and drove in a run, while Max Zemke, Rob Ruiter, Drew Pence and Nate Wolf also each drove in a run for Lansing Catholic.
The Cougars broke the game open in the fourth inning, scoring five runs while chasing DeWitt starter Will Nagel from the contest.
That proved to be plenty of offense for Creamer, who kept the DeWitt hitters off balance.
“I thought we got a great performance from our pitcher on the mound,” Lansing Catholic coach Andrew Smith said. “I know DeWitt is a great hitting ballclub and they put up some runs on us Saturday when we played. I was really pleased with the performance we got defensively and the bats showed up today.”
The Panthers got their lone run with two outs in the seventh on Chris Lowe’s RBI single.