East Lansing — Call it a victory lap.
Whatever one calls it, the postgame lap sophomore Matt Gushee took after he threw a complete game victory leading Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett into a state final for a fourth consecutive season is all part of his routine, and coach Dan Cimini isn’t about to mess with it.
University Liggett (24-8) scored at least one run in each of the first four innings and rode the right arm of Gushee (5-1) to a 7-1 victory over Reese (28-8) in a Division 3 semifinal on Friday at Michigan State’s McLane Stadium.
University Liggett will meet a familiar foe in the final, and that’s Decatur.
University Liggett won the Division 4 title in 2011 and last season, and lost to Decatur in the Division 4 final in 2012.
Gushee runs the lap for his mental and physical well-being.
“I do it to get some quiet time and to get some blood flowing in my arm,” Gushee said.
Whatever works, and it was working for Gushee on this day.
He walked just one and struck out two. He finished strong retiring the side in order in the seventh.
“He pounds the strike zone,” Cimini said. “He kept us in the game. We were going to make their pitchers throw a lot of pitches. We knew their lefthander (Matt Sahr) had thrown a lot of pitches recently. The game plan worked.
“One walk? That’s what we needed from (Gushee). He has the best stuff of all of our pitchers. He has a good grit. He has a good mental attitude.
“Getting those runs (early) was huge. We had to get on them. We had to keep pecking away.”
Gushee gave up a run in the second inning on two hits. After that no runner got past second base.
University Liggett had a plethora of baserunners and left 12 on. It had eight hits and two Reese pitchers combined on 9 walks.
University Liggett played small ball early as it had three sacrifices, one in each of the first three innings and led 6-1 after a three-run third.
Adam Fiema had two hits, two walks and two RBIs. Ian Clark also had two hits.
Sahr pitched on Tuesday in Reese’s quarterfinal victory and appeared tired. He walked six and gave up four hits in 2 2/3 innings.
Decatur 2, Gladstone 1, (8): Cody Huston hit a walk-off single and tossed a one-hitter as Decatur advanced to a state final for the second time in three years.
Decatur won the Division 4 title in 2012.
Huston’s two-out hit scored Carter Smith from second base.
The only hit Huston allowed was a one-out single by Justin Jurek. Jurek was later erased on a double play.
“It was my time to step up,” Huston said of his double. “We’re right where we expected to be. We have eight of nine (starters) returning for next year and we’re looking to get another (title).”
Decatur (24-6) scored in the fifth inning as Joby Kawaski doubled in Smith from first base with two outs.
Gladstone (29-5) scored in the seventh on a walk, a stolen base and error and a ground out.