Detroit — While rain delayed the start of Friday's Catholic League C-D Division championship game for more than an hour, it didn't dampen Madison Heights Bishop Foley's bid for its fourth straight title.
Senior Nate Grys roped a three-run inside-the-park home run in the third inning and Bishop Foley never looked back, cruising to a 4-2 victory over Riverview Gabriel Richard at Comerica Park.
"Anytime you can win (the title), it's a great feeling. It's what we play for," first-year Bishop Foley coach Justin Robinson said. "When I was an assistant, I think it took us three years before we finally got our first one in 2012. So to do it right now, it's an awesome accomplishment."
Bishop Foley sophomore left-hander Justin Campbell turned in a complete-game performance, giving up five hits and two walks to go along with 11 strikeouts, which included working out of a couple early jams.
In the bottom of the first, Gabriel Richard (19-3) loaded the bases with one out after Jacob Hanoian hit a single, Zach Loewengruber drew a walk and Jake Lipetzky reached on a slow roller to the shortstop. But Campbell bounced back to get a strikeout and pop-up to keep Gabriel Richard off the board.
Then in the second, Gabriel Richard threatened again with runners on the corners and two outs before Campbell's third strikeout ended the inning.
After being retired in order through the first two innings, Jacob Thomas and Cam Horwath both reached base on walks to give Bishop Foley runners on first and second with one out. And Grys didn't let the opportunity go to waste, driving the ball into the right-center gap and hustling around the bases for a stand-up, three-run inside-the-park home run to give Bishop Foley a 3-0 lead.
"My first at-bat (Lipetzky) got me with a curveball, so I'm thinking he's probably going to come back with it," Grys said. "He threw it in the dirt and next pitch I knew he'd come to me. I got that fastball and made sure I pushed it to the right side of the field to get those runs in."
Gabriel Richard answered right back as Josh Blaszczak led off the bottom half of the inning with a walk and stole second. Lipetzky followed with an RBI single to right field and advanced to second on the throw home. Two batters later, Lipetzky was able to race home and score on Josh Tufts' sacrifice bunt down the first-base line to cut Bishop Foley's lead to 3-2.
But Bishop Foley (18-6) tacked on another run in the fourth after a throw down to first ricocheted off Horwath, allowing Michael Ryan II to score from third to make it 4-2.
From that point on, it was all Campbell as he retired 12 out of the final 13 batters he faced over the final four innings, including 11 in a row to close out the game.
"At the start of the game I felt good but my stuff really wasn't there," Campbell said. "I was just trying to find it and I was leaving pitches right over the plate for them to hit. After they scored a couple runs I told myself that I got to get this and then I just mentally shut it down."
Lipetzky finished 2-for-3 and allowed two hits, seven walks and four runs to go with eight strikeouts over four innings for Gabriel Richard, which was making its first Catholic League finals appearance since 2008.
"I thought we had a lot of energy early on and we seemed to lose some toward the end," Gabriel Richard coach Mike Magier said. "Moral of the story is we walked too many guys and we didn't get key hits when we had guys on base."
James Hawkins is a freelance writer