Detroit — Warren De La Salle took advantage of Orchard Lake St. Mary’s wild pitching to earn a 15-8 comeback victory in the Catholic League A-B Division baseball championship game Tuesday afternoon at Comerica Park.
It was St. Mary’s which took advantage of De La Salle senior right-hander Nino Puckett’s tough start to take a 7-0 lead in the opening inning.
Dillon Kark crushed a three-run homer to highlight the first inning to put OLSM in position to win its first A-B Division championship, coming close multiple times before, including 40 years ago against Brother Rice.
But, OLSM’s pitching couldn’t get the job done.
How bad was OLSM’s pitching? De La Salle scored 10 runs in the top of the fifth to take a 15-8 lead and had just two hits.
DeLaSalle received seven walks and had two batters hit by pitches in the inning, also receiving a two-run single by Toledo-bound Kyle Jones for a 10-8 lead, and a two-run single by MacArthur Graybill five batters later — after a hit batter and three straight walks — for a 15-8 cushion.
“It was a crazy game, definitely one of the craziest innings, never saw anything like it,” said Jones who tripled and scored in the second, walked and scored in the third and singled and scored in the fifth. “I was just looking for something good to hit and he gave it to me on the first pitch and I took advantage of it.”
Sophomore Anthony Marcon started for OLSM, giving up three runs in the second, including an RBI single by Jacob Badalamenti, an RBI single by Ben Hyndman and an RBI walk by Mississippi State-bound Bryce Bush.
OLSM coach Matt Petry used three pitchers during that pivotal fifth inning. Alex Borowski walked the bases loaded to start the inning.
He was relieved by junior Dean Sigler who hit the first batter he faced, then walked in another run before getting Max Gordon to ground out before Jones’ two-run single.
Then, after hitting a batter and walking two more, Sigler was relieved by Kent Madak, who walked the first batter he faced, No. 9 hitter Hunter Broski, before giving up the two-run single to Graybill.
Badalamenti, who helped De La Salle win the Division 2 football championship, was outstanding in center field. He made a diving catch in the third to take an extra-base hit from Kark, then gunned out Grant Henson at third in the fourth after picking up Cole Sibley’s single to end another threat.
“It was a good win for our team, we’re on a roll,” said Badalamenti, who will play next year at Wayne State.
“We just had to continue to play our game (after the 7-0 deficit). I knew we were confident at the plate. We didn’t get that many strikes, but when we got them we put it in play.”
On his defense: “I love playing center field, like to use my speed and it was great to play here (Comerica Park). I had a great jump on it (Kark’s drive), not many people thought I’d get to it but I knew I would. Then, on the throw, it was picture perfect. I had to get it right where I needed it, too, almost hit the runner, but didn’t so it worked out.”
De La Salle’s championship was its first A-B title since 2011, ending Birmingham Brother Rice’s run of six straight league championship.
And, it looked like it would be OLSM’s first A-B championship early when Carter Macias and Alex Mooney had back-to-back singles before Kark deposited Puckett’s pitch into the left-field bullpen, more than 360 feet away.
Puckett, who earned the win in the 2016 Division 1 semifinal and a save in the state title game, failed to get through the first inning.
He got just one out after Kark’s homer, then walked two straight, had a batter reach safely on an error and walked another before being lifted.
Macias, a senior third baseman, collected a second hit in the bottom of the first when he hit a two-run double off of reliever Western Michigan-bound Easton Sikorski to open up a 7-0 lead.
Sikorski settled down and gave up just one more run the rest of the way.
“Going in we knew they were a good hitting team and they got out on us early,” Sikorski said. “As soon as I came in my main goal was to just try and get them to hit into outs instead of hitting into the gaps and it worked out so we got the W.”
Birmingham Groves 5, Farmington 4: Ari Sherman pitched three scoreless innings in relief to pick up the win, Connor Bradbury went 2-for-4 with a winning, two-run single in the sixth, and George Cutler hit a two-run home run for Groves (19-8). Deven Mahanti went 2-for-3 with two RBI and a double for Farmington (18-9).
Romeo 4, Utica Eisenhower 2: Matt Stelgraeve douybled in a two runs in the first inning and Kaden Stively allowed two runs in six innings for Romeo. Trevor Walters drove in a run for Eisenhower (14-12).