East Lansing — Frank Klamerus slugged a two-run double to highlight a big sixth-inning comeback to spark Riverview Gabriel Richard to a 5-2 victory over Schoolcraft Friday evening in a Division 3 state semifinal at Michigan State's McLane Stadium.
Freshman right-hander Alex Thole was cruising along, holding a 2-0 lead for Schoolcraft and retiring the first batter in the sixth before his defense fell apart.
First, Kevin Tuttle singled, then moved around to third on Niko Maloney’s bunt that Schoolcraft’s catcher picked up and threw wildly to first. Hayden Burke then reached safely on an error to shortstop, scoring Tuttle and Maloney and Burke scored on Klamerus’ one-hop double off the left-field fence.
“That was absolutely amazing, just knew our bats would wake up,” Klamerus said of the sixth-inning outburst. “I got a fastball and I got all of it. It felt great. I’m so happy for this team. We’ve worked so hard.”
And Gabriel Richard (28-3) wasn’t done, although Thole’s day on the mound was following Klamerus’ drive. Pinch hitter Hayden Flynn greeted reliever Dalton Adams with a two-run single up the gap in right-center to open up a 5-2 cushion.
“It felt awesome to get my name called; dream come true playing in the state semifinals, then actually getting the hit,” Flynn said. “I told my coach I was going to hit the first straight one and drive it in the gap. It was the first pitch, right down the middle, about belt high, just perfect to drive.”
Klamerus started and tossed four scoreless innings before Schoolcraft senior Austin Edwards single-handedly broke the scoreless tie in the top of the fifth.
Edwards, the No. 9 hitter, had a two-out single, then manufactured a run by stealing second and third before scoring on the catcher’s throwing error.
Sophomore Cole Atkinson replaced Klamerus with two outs in the fifth and walked two, including one that forced in a run for a 2-0 cushion. Atkinson got the next batter, with the bases loaded, to ground out to third to end the inning.
So, what was Atkinson’s mindset when he came in, especially since he was a midseason call up off the JV team.
“Bulldog, came in with a 1-0 game, knew I had to keep it close,” Atkinson said. “I didn’t want to give up that run, but still. I just had to shut them down and wait for our bats to wake up.”
Gabriel Richard coach Mike Magier had high praise for Atkinson, who improved to 5-0 (1.52 ERA).
“He’s a JV player who we called up and he’s played really good for us down the stretch,” Magier said. “I thought that he had two pitches that were right around there, 3-2 we’d have our guy swing at that pitch quite honestly, thought the zone got squeezed a bit there (bases loaded walk), but he did his job, just huge there to keep us close. Really, he’s been lights out for us since he was called up.”
Atkinson sent Schoolcraft (22-12) down 1-2-3 in the seventh to hand Gabriel Richard the win.
And, Gabriel Richard — without a senior on the roster — will face Catholic League rival Madison Heights Bishop Foley in Saturday’s 5 p.m. championship game, with ace Matthew Silka (6-0, 0.91 ERA) on the mound.
Baseball semifinals results
All semifinals and finals at Michigan State
Final: 11:30 a.m. Saturday
Saginaw Swan Valley 3, DeWitt 1
Final: 9 a.m. Saturday
Riverview Gabriel Richard 5, Schoolcraft 2
Final: 5 p.m. Saturday
Beal City 7, Gaylord St. Mary 3
Unionville-Sebewaing 5, St. Joseph Lake Michigan Catholic 1
Final: 2:30 p.m. Saturday