Detroit — Detroit Western International's Amedeo Apolloni capped his four-year varsity career in the Detroit Public School League with a dominating performance.
The senior pitcher shut down Detroit King with a complete-game, two-hit shutout in the PSL Mega Division baseball final Monday afternoon at Wayne State University, extending Western's league championship streak to eight years with a resounding 4-0 victory.
"We got a lot of pressure on us as seniors 'cause we haven't lost a PSL game in like 10 years," Apolloni said. "Every senior has a lot of pressure to keep that going, especially the PSL championship."
King amplified that pressure from the beginning as Anthony Ball led off the game with a walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. After he moved to third on a pitch in the dirt, King threatened to grab an early lead. But Ball was stranded when Apolloni got out of the inning with a strikeout and weak grounder.
Carlos Avina helped ease the tension for Western, blasting the second pitch he saw into the left-center-field gap for a leadoff triple. Two batters later, Anthony Gutierrez grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to score Avina and give Western a 1-0 edge.
Then in the second, Kavon Moore started the inning with an infield single and stole second with nobody out to give King another golden scoring opportunity. Much like the first, though, King was unable to cash in as Apolloni struck out the next three batters.
That started a string of eight straight King batters Apolloni retired until Moore hit a two-out, opposite-field single in the fourth. But Moore was stranded at second yet again after Apolloni bounced back with a strikeout to end the threat.
Western (20-9) doubled its lead in the bottom half when Enrique Sawicki drew a one-out walk and advanced to second on a balk. With two outs, Sawicki stole third and scored easily after the throw skipped past the third baseman and into left field for a 2-0 lead, which proved to be more than enough cushion.
Apolloni sent King down in order the final three innings and retired the last 10 batters he faced to keep Western's streak alive. He finished with 11 strikeouts and allowed only three men on base the entire game to improve to 6-3 on the year.
"I felt great. I had command, my curveball was working good and my fastball was on," Apolloni said. "I made some adjustments early. I ended up staying more closed and that's basically what I did."
Western added its final two runs in the sixth when courtesy runner Stephon Miller stole second and a throwing error allowed Anthony Gutierrez and Miller to score, pushing its lead to 4-0.
"It's getting more difficult (to keep the streak alive). But these guys make a commitment to the off-season stuff when I'm not around and those kinds of things make it easier, so when they come in prepared we just keep the ball rolling," Western coach Juan Sanchez said. "Eight straight is a reflection of the tradition that was going on before and I expect it to continue."
Not to be outdone by Apolloni, King sophomore pitcher Johnathan Darby kept his team in it, scattering three hits and four walks in five-plus innings.
"I knew Johnathan was going to come out, throw and attack the zone today," Sanchez said. "I think early on, everything we hit we hit hard and we hit it right at a couple people and it lulled our guys into a sense of comfort.
"I kept telling them every inning I didn't like the tone, I didn't like the pace of the game and that we were playing at their pace. We needed to play at our pace. ... I wasn't happy at all with the effort but the preparation I think that we do for games showed in the end here. They didn't get fazed and didn't let King's pace really affect them as far as the outcome of the game."
Moore was the lone player to record multiple hits, finishing 2-for-3 for King (11-9). He also gunned down three prospective base stealers.
"We missed big opportunities," King assistant coach Adam Bryant said. "We didn't get the bunt down and we missed a few signs early in the count which took the bunt away from us, too.
"We just didn't hit the baseball and we let their pitcher dominate us today. We got dominated on the mound."
Detroit Henry Ford 20, Detroit East English Village 4 (2 innings): Detroit Henry Ford used a six-run first inning and 14-run second to dethrone two-time defending league champ.
It was Henry Ford's first title under eighth-year coach Curtis Rogers.
"We met (East English) the last two years in the championship and they defeated us both times, so it's a good feeling to finally get one," said Rogers, whose team was making its fourth consecutive finals appearance.
Trevon Williams' two-run single and Deondre Phillips' two-run double highlighted Henry Ford's offensive outburst in the first. Then after East English got two runs back in the bottom half of the inning, Henry Ford took advantage of numerous East English miscues in the second to nearly bat around the order twice and blow the game wide open.
"Finally my guys started seeing the ball and hitting the ball well," Rogers said. "Once you put the bat on the ball, all you can do is wait till you get out."
Williams finished 3-for-3 with a triple, two RBIs and three runs scored, and Javonte Mitchell went 3-for-3 with two RBIs, three runs scored and a stolen base to lead Henry Ford (11-4). Darryl Champion gave up three hits and struck out two to earn the win.
The first six batters in Henry Ford's lineup combined to reach base 17 out of 18 times and score 17 of the team's 20 runs.
Curron Suttle-Neal went 1-for-1 with a walk, an RBI and a run scored, and Fred Jones went 1-for-2 with two steals and two runs scored for East English (10-2).