East Lansing -- When Richmond senior pitcher Zach Leach ran into trouble in the fifth inning, his thoughts drifted back to last season’s tournament run and to what his coach preached to the team this season.
Leach gave up the tying run that inning on a wild pitch but then settled down and tossed a complete-game four-hitter to lead Richmond to a 2-1 victory over DeWitt (23-11) in a Division 2 semifinal on Thursday.
Richmond (35-3), which has won 33 straight and is in the state title game for the second consecutive season, will face Mount Pleasant (31-8) for the title on Saturday at 9 a.m.
Last year’s experience proved valuable for Leach and his teammates in this semifinal.
“You learn how to deal with the crowd, the stressful moments and the mistakes,” Leach said. “I knew as soon as I let it go (it was wild). I thought after that I should have shook (catcher Evan Kratt) off and threw the fastball (not the curveball). I just had to forget about it.”
Leach got the next batter on a called third strike to end the inning.
Richmond regained the lead in the top of the sixth as Kratt singled with one out and scored on Dillon McInerney’s double to deep center.
Losing pitcher Sam Smith went all seven innings and allowed eight hits, striking out five.
Mount Pleasant 7, Richland Gull Lake 1: Sophomore Hunter Buczkowski pitched a complete-game five-hitter for Mount Pleasant in a Division 2 semifinal at MSU’s McLane Stadium.
Mount Pleasant, which won state titles in 2007 (Division 2) and 1996 (Class A), will play Richmond (35-3) for the title on Saturday at 9 a.m.
Mount Pleasant last played for a state title in 2008.
Mount Pleasant scored two runs in the first, third and fifth innings.
Dean Marais and Buczkowski led the hitting attack as each went 3-for-4. Marias had a double and two RBI; Buczkowski had three RBI.
Walter Graf went the distance for Gull Lake (31-9).