Fifty eight years.
That’s how long St. Clair Little League has been in town for generations of kids to learn baseball, play games and share an overwhelming amount of memories.
There was just one notable the program never had – a state title.
That all changed on Thursday as the St. Clair 13U baseball team went into Taylor and walloped their way to the Intermediate Little League state crown, beating Tecumseh 11-0. That wide score wasn’t an oddity as they won by double-digits in all three of their state tournament games.
“It was incredible,” pitcher Max Gottler said. “We really weren’t expecting that. That Tecumseh team mercied us last year.”
Gottler didn’t let Tecumseh get anywhere close to the lead St. Clair started building in the first inning. By tossing seven strikeouts in five innings, Gottler put an exclamation point on the week that included just four total runs surrendered by St. Clair.
“He’s been dominant through the whole season,” head coach Bart Stockwell said. “He’s by far the number one. We have four main pitchers, and they’ve all been lights out.”
St. Clair also had an envious amount of riches at the plate, highlighted with a four-run fifth inning to make the game 9-0.
Joey Harwood went 3-for-3 with a walk in the title game, and Gottler went 3-for-4. Colton Dawson had a pair of hits with two RBI, and Brady Gleason gave St. Clair two hits as well. Austin Schweiger also chipped in with two RBI.
SCLL president Jamie Haslem, who played in the program as a kid, was on hand to see his son, Cam, and the rest of the team clinch the title.
“The support that each kid gives is incredible, whether they are in the game or not,” Haslem said. “No matter what they do, whether they hit a home run or strike out, they always cheer each other on.
“It’s the tightest group I’ve ever seen in sports.”
Lifting the trophy meant more than winning a few games against the state’s best competition – it also meant years of hard work are starting to pay off in trophies.
“We get into a gym in January,” Stockwell said. “And the kids wouldn’t be able to do that without the volunteers.”
Next up for the young ballplayers will be a trip to Kalamazoo for the Central Regional Tournament with state title winners from nine other states. The winner of the double elimination tourney will fly west to California for the Intermediate Little League World Series.
That tournament will get started for St. Clair next Friday, but for now the team will bask in earning the program’s first-ever state title.
“I will remember this for the rest of my life.” Gottler said.
Contact Matt Sheehan at (810)-989-6267 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He’s on Twitter @Sheehan_Sports.