Liggett rolls into Division 3 baseball title game
East Lansing — Grosse Pointe University-Liggett took advantage of every opportunity in its Division 3 semifinal with Mason County Central Friday evening to advance to the title game with a 9-0 victory at McLane Stadium.
Liggett (31-4) will go after its third state title in the last four years when it plays New Lothrop (41-3) in the championship game at 5 p.m. Saturday. The Knights won a Division 4 title in 2013 and a Division 3 championship two years ago.
Liggett stole eight bases, many after walks (five) or hit batters (three). The Knights had their share of hits too, including a three-run double by sophomore outfielder Will Morrison to highlight a four-run second inning.
“I got a fastball, inside and got a good swing on it,” said Morrison who had four RBIs, including a sacrifice fly in the fourth to open a 5-0 cushion. “It’s a good feeling to get a lead like that for our pitcher and our defense, especially in a semifinal game to go to the state championship.
“We also wanted to come out and be aggressive, go out and go 150 percent and be aggressive early.”
Junior shortstop Connor McCarron and Morrison, who batted No. 1 and 2 in the order, each stole two bases.
Junior Jackson Walkowiak doubled and scored in the second, had an RBI single in the two-run fifth and singled again in the seventh for a 3-for-4 day.
Sophomore right-hander Anthony George (12-1, 1.70 ERA) earned the win with a four-hitter, striking out four while allowing one walk.
George settled down after getting out of a jam in the opening inning. He hit the first batter he faced, then walked the next and faced a bases-loaded, one-out situation. It was then that he received a visit from 13-year Liggett coach Dan Cimini to talk things over.
“I just went out and said, ‘Hey, take a deep breath, this is all fun, what we’re here for,’ he was just a little amped up and I wanted to calm him down a bit,” Cimini said. “Once we got the three runs he was golden.”
George settled down and got the next two batters, retiring them on pop ups to end the threat.
“I was overthrowing a lot and trying to do something that I’m not used to doing,” George said. “Pitching to contact is what I’ve been doing all year and keep sticking with that was big, getting out of that jam and then going ahead, too.
“With the defense behind me, you don’t need to go around trying to strike out every guy because you have guys like Billy (Kopicki), our freshman making diving plays at third, Connor at short, you have faith in those guys.”
McCarron was outstanding at shortstop, turning a pair of double plays. Freshman Billy Kopicki was busy at third, getting five assists and retiring three other batters on pop outs.
SATURDAY’S BASEBALL FINALS
All games at Michigan State University
Division 1: Warren De La Salle vs. Saline, 11:30 a.m.
Division 2: Holland Christian vs. Linden, 9 a.m.
Division 3: New Lothrop vs. Grosse Pointe Liggett, 5 p.m.
Division 4: Sterling Heights Parkway Christian vs. Portland St. Patrick, 2:30 p.m.