Detroit — Pontiac Notre Dame Prep had a bumpy ride through the Catholic League baseball playoffs, but was peaking at the right time.
Yet Riverview Gabriel Richard posed a tough matchup in the C-D Division championship game at Comerica Park on Thursday, defeating Notre Dame Prep, 5-1.
Notre Dame Prep took an early 1-0 lead in the first thanks to a bases loaded walk by Kory Czajkowski, but it was all Gabriel Richard after that.
Gabriel Richard starting pitcher Jake Lipetzky was erratic early and struggled to find the strike zone, walking four batters in the first two innings. He settled down thanks to a pep talk from coach Mike Magier.
“I was a little nervous,” Lipetzky said. “My release point was off. (Magier) pulled me aside and talked to me in the dugout and said you’ve got to keep going, don’t give up.”
Magier admitted he almost pulled his starter after the shaky first inning, but Lipetzky turned it around nicely, allowing just one earned run and striking out seven. He walked just one batter after the second inning.
“I told him he’s got to work out of it,” Magier said of his pitcher’s rough first inning. “We were really close to pulling him. Halfway out there, I said we’ll give him one more hitter and he got it a groove.”
After taking down four-time defending champion Madison Heights Bishop Foley on Saturday in the CHSL C-D semifinal game, Notre Dame Prep coach Darren Audia said that confidence will continue to carry over into the state playoffs despite the loss.
“We started coming together right at the perfect time,” Audia said. “We were getting good pitching, we were getting good defense. Our offense was doing enough to help us win games. The magic just ran out today. I mean, I can’t complain right now.”
Czajkowski pitched 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, allowing just one hit and and striking out three for Notre Dame Prep (12-19).
Zach Swain and Josh Tufts each drove in two runs in the four-run fifth inning for Gabriel Richard (17-4).
Detroit Central 15, Detroit Denby 2 (5 inn.): DeAngelo Bell struck out nine in five innings while Robert Odgen had four RBIs with a single and a double and Devin Bell added two RBIs for Central (10-4, 5-3 Detroit Public Schools League).
Birmingham Seaholm 17, Harrison Township L'Anse Creuse 1
Detroit Catholic Central 21, Sterling Heights Stevenson 1
Detroit Country Day 15, South Lyon 3
Haslett 12, Portage Central 10
Farmington Hills Mercy 16, Ann Arbor Skyline 8
Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central 23, Portage Northern 4
Grosse Pointe South 18, Troy Athens 5
Okemos 18, East Lansing 8
Rockford 27, Lansing Waverly 0
Walled Lake Northern 14, Temperance Bedford 0
Connor Muldowney is a freelance writer
Detroit News staff contributed