Battle Creek —Mark Evan Auk played the last two games of his high school career — and likely in his career — last weekend.
And he’s OK with that considering the mark he left.
Auk played four seasons for coach Dan Cimini at Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett, helping his team reach the Division 4 final the last three years — and winning last weekend.
But, Auk just happens to be one of the state’s best hockey players, and will focus on that sport moving forward.
He will, however, enjoy his last two games.
Like the semifinals, where he scored the lone run in a victory over New Lothrop.
And like the final against Beal City, where he was the starting pitcher and kept his team in the game with four scoreless innings, twice escaping bases-loaded jams.
But that’s wasn’t all for Auk.
His single with one out in the eighth moved Cole Zingas to third. Zingas would score on a throwing error.
And there’s more.
After Auk left the mound, he moved to center field. With Liggett clinging to a 3-2 lead, he made a diving catch of a short fly, avoiding a collision with shortstop Nicholas Azar to keep Beal City at bay.
“I thought I had some sort of chance to get there,” said Auk, who was playing deep to prevent extra-base hits. “I didn’t think I had it at first. Then I looked and had it in the webbing. Azar landed on me but he didn’t hit my glove. He got me on my (left) shoulder.”
So with baseball now in his past, Auk will focus on hockey.
A defenseman, Auk signed with Michigan Tech, but first will play for the Cedar Rapids (Iowa) RoughRiders of the United States Hockey League (USHL) beginning Aug. 25.
Tim McDonald knows a thing or two about pitching — he went 16-1 his senior season at Central Michigan.
So when you look at McDonald’s staff at Bay City Western, you could say his experience and knowledge has rubbed off.
*Brett Adcock, 12-0;
*Connor Foley, 8-0;
*Britton Ott, 8-0.
So, two one-run victories last weekend should come as no surprise.
“It’s a signature win, a signature year,” said McDonald, whose team defeated Sterling Heights Stevenson, 2-1, in the semifinals and Birmingham Brother Rice, 1-0, in the final.
Adcock beat Stevenson, while Foley topped Brother Rice.
“We threw Britton in the quarterfinal Tuesday (1-0 over Rockford),” McDonald said. “That set up the weekend. Connor’s a better pitcher than I was in high school. I was a power pitcher. He’s more polished.”
No time to quit
After Madison Heights Bishop Foley won the Division 3 title last season, there was speculation coach Buster Sunde would step down.
He didn’t. And after winning a third consecutive title, Sunde said he will return next season, when Bishop Foley loses two players to graduation and will be favored to win a fourth straight championship.
“I talked it over with my family last season and decided to stay,” Sunde said. “This is where I should be. My reward is seeing these guys experience success.”
Grace under pressure
Allie Havers (6-foot-5) had a dominant weekend, helping Mattawan win its second title in three years.
Havers, who will play basketball at Nebraska next year, outdueled Bay City Western’s Hannah Leppek, who entered the game with five straight shutouts over 34 innings.
“She’s a calming presence out there,” Mattawan coach Alicia Smith said. “Her senior leadership and her experience as an athlete performing under pressure was what really helped her and her teammates.”
On the right track
Many thought Tecumseh coach Jeff Nowak would be in a rebuilding mode in his first season.
Since winning titles in 2007 and 2008, Tecumseh had a bit of a downturn the next four seasons.
Not so fast.
“It’s my first year so I can’t comment on that,” said Nowak, whose team defeated Saginaw Swan Valley, 5-1. “I would call (this) a dream season, absolutely.”
Nowak loses senior Emily Maves, but an unbeaten JV team and experienced varsity players will keep things headed in the right direction.
“It feels really good,” Nowak said. “On paper, it might seem like easier wins than it was, but we battled.”
Dundee's Ewing fired up
Dundee’s Vanessa Ewing didn’t take kindly to coach Mickey Moody taking her out of the semifinals matchup against Allen Park Cabrini.
So, Ewing did everything she could to contribute in the championship game.
She had a three-run home run and shut out Unionville-Sebewaing in a 3-0 victory in nine innings.
“It motivated me to pitch better because I wasn’t about to get pulled,” said Ewing, who had 15 strikeouts. “This game is way too important.”
Rod Beard contributed