East Lansing — Six weeks worth of magical play disappeared in one half-inning for Grosse Pointe South on Saturday.
Bay City Western scored three runs in the top of the first inning and never lost the lead, or the momentum, and completed a historic season by defeating South, 6-2, in the Division 1 final at Michigan State’s McLane Stadium.
Western (38-7) is the first team from Division 1 or Class A to win back-to-back state titles.
Western became the third school to sweep the softball and baseball titles in the same season. The softball team defeated Portage Central, 4-2, on Saturday.
South (27-18) was the surprise team of the tournament that started on May 27. This wasn’t supposed to be its year, but about a week before the tournament coach Dan Griesbaum turned to his closer, Jimmy Menchl, to be the ace of the staff and that move turned an ordinary season into a memorable one.
Menchl was the winning pitcher in both regional games and in Tuesday’s 2-0 quarterfinal victory over top-ranked Sterling Heights Stevenson.
Menchl got the start against Western but wasn’t nearly as effective as he was against Stevenson. He had an 0-2 count on leadoff hitter Jason Clark but Clark singled. Carson Eby singled and both scored on Justin Gorr’s double. Gorr then scored on Hunter David’s single.
“The first inning set the tone,” Griesbaum said. “Getting behind was tough. You can’t take anything away from Western. They’re well-coached. They were the best team today.”
Menchl lasted four innings and gave up all six runs.
His counterpart, Jason Clark, was on his game. He retired the first 12 batters, gave up two runs in the fifth, then retired the final eight in order.
Clark, a sophomore, pitched a three-hitter, striking out five and not walking a batter.
This was the first game in the tournament in which Western allowed more than one run, and the first time it gave up an earned run.
“This makes us more of a baseball school, a sports school,” Clark said. “Our school is a franchise. I came out loose. This is the best feeling I had in my life. People doubted us early in the season. I had complete faith in my team.”
Western lost 10 seniors to graduation after last season. It had just four seniors and eight sophomores on this year’s team.
“(Clark) played Pony League last year at this time,” Western coach Tim McDonald said. “Getting those three runs was huge. It was a team effort. We had quality at-bats in that first inning. We can coach our butts off but they have to execute.”
Of Western’s 11 hits, three were bunt singles. Clark had three hits and Gorr had two to lead the way.
Trailing 6-0, South scored twice in the fifth. James Fishback hit an RBI triple and scored on Jacob Stone’s single.