East Lansing – Nate Budziak continued his postseason success on the big stage of McLane Stadium Thursday afternoon, tossing a three-hit shutout to lead Grosse Pointe South to a 10-0 state semifinal win over Midland.
Grosse Pointe South (32-12) will play the Woodhaven-Birmingham Brother Rice winner in the Division 1 state championship game Saturday at 11:30 a.m.
Budziak, a 6-foot-1 senior left-hander, was perfect through three innings, striking out four. He went on to strikeout seven without allowing a walk in the six-inning game, giving up a single to Jeff Landis with one out in the fourth, a single to Jerry Bringard in the fifth and another single to Tim Hackbarth in the sixth to improve to 6-1.
“I basically just came out here and I knew that it just takes the same mentality every time I pitch, just come out and give everything you’ve got because I knew this was going to be the last start of my career,” said Budziak, who missed a month after breaking the tip of his thumb on his pitching hand while sliding into home in a game against rival Grosse Pointe North in April.
“The energy of our team has been unstoppable all year and I really think that’s what carried us more than anything. When I see all my teammates just getting hyped and liking what they see, it makes me want to do even better.”
Budziak said locating his fastball was a key to his performance.
“I had pretty good velocity, my fastball was working and I was locating it pretty well,” said Budziak, who has been clocked in the mid-80s. “I wasn’t getting all the calls on the corners. I mixed the curveball and slider in there, didn’t throw too many changeups, but mostly fastball location is what worked.”
South coach Dan Griesbaum had high praise for Budziak.
“He’s just been unbelievable lately,” said Griesbaum, who is now in his 35th year as South’s head coach, trying to lead the Blue Devils to their first state title since 2001. “He was out for a month after breaking the thumb on his pitching hand. He just came back about three weeks ago and he was lights out in districts, lights out in regionals and lights out here, shutouts each time.”
South reached Midland starter Garrett Willis for two runs in the top of the second, aided by a pair of errors. Cameron Mallegg and Jacob Hinkle singled in the inning and Joseph Naporano had a sacrifice fly.
South put the game away with an eight-run sixth when its first nine hitters reached safely. Willis was lifted after giving up a leadoff double to Conor McKenna, hitting Steve Cavera and then allowing an RBI single to Giovanny Lutfy, the No. 9 hitter.
Mallegg led South’s 14-hit attack with a double and two singles while Naporano, Hinkle, Lutfy and Anthony Dermanulian each had two hits.
All semifinals and finals at MSU
Grosse Pointe South 10, Midland 0
Woodhaven 7, Birmingham Brother Rice 3
Final: Saturday, 11:30 a.m.
Stevensville Lakeshore 3, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 0 (10 innings)
Saginaw Swan Valley 3, DeWitt 1
Final: Saturday, 9 a.m.
Gladstone vs. Madison Heights Bishop Foley, 2:30
Riverview Gabriel Richard vs. Schoolcraft, 5
Final: Saturday, 5
Gaylord St. Mary vs. Beal City, 9 a.m.
Unionville-Sebewaing vs. St. Joseph Lake Michigan Catholic, 11:30 a.m.
Final: Saturday, 2:30 p.m.