East Lansing — Orchard Lake St. Mary’s left no doubt about the best team in Division 2, putting on a dominating performance in the state-championship game with an 8-1 win over Grand Rapids Catholic Central on Saturday afternoon at McLane Stadium.
St. Mary's veteran baseball coach Matt Petry showed he was going to be aggressive from the start, sending his runners and playing small ball on its way to its second Division 2 state championship in the last five years.
No. 2 St. Mary's (34-9-2) — also the Catholic League champions — scored two runs in each of the first three innings to take a comfortable 6-0 lead.
That’s all freshman right-hander Brock Porter would need, going six innings and giving up the run on five hits and three walks while striking out seven.
Porter is not your typical freshman, throwing in the high 80s and already owning offers from Miami (Fla.) and Tennessee.
“I knew I’d get the ball four or five days ago when I had a meeting with Coach,” Porter saud. “I had been throwing well and he wanted to get me a start. I was a little nervous, but it was a blast. I just went out there and threw the best I could. My fastball was working well, but my off speed was helping me too. It was way easy after getting an early lead like that. I could just calm down and throw strikes.”
Said Petry: “Brock has thrown great for us. That was his first start in the playoffs, but he had three wins (in postseason) prior to today in relief. We had some rain delays where we couldn’t bring our starters back. We really couldn’t have made a bad decision whether we wanted to start Brock or Anthony Fett or Mikey Gall.
"We were confident in all of those guys, but we went with Brock.”
Junior left-hander Logan Wood, who is a Michigan commit, is the ace of St. Mary's staff, tossing a two-hit shutout in Thursday’s 10-0 semifinal rout of Muskegon Oakridge to improve to 10-0 while lowering his ERA to 1.16.
St. Mary's was motivated to get the job done and leave with the championship trophy after losing to Stevensville Lakeshore in 10 innings in a state semifinal last year.
“We mentioned it at the beginning of the year, you know unfinished business, especially how last year happened where we played a great game against Stevensville Lakeshore, 0-to-0 through nine and then to lose that one kind of stung a little bit," Petry said. "But we refocused and after the first week of the season we really didn’t mention it.”
St. Mary's struggled early in the season, going 7-9 in the first month before finishing with a 29-game (27-0-2) unbeaten streak.
Sophomore infielder Alex Mooney had a double, two-run single in the second and infield single in the fourth to lead St. Mary's 12-hit attack, which included a triple in the seventh by freshman Nolan Schubart, who has an offer from Michigan.
“He’s had a heck of a year, been our most consistent and best player all year and did an excellent job this weekend too, had six hits,” Petry said of Mooney, who also had three hits in the semifinal win.
Junior pinch-runner Kameron Arnold showed just how aggressive St. Mary's would be in the opening inning when he had the opportunity to get in the game. After Mooney’s one-out double, Harrison Poeszat followed with an RBI single to left and Petry sent Arnold in as a courtesy runner for Poeszat, his catcher.
Arnold went on to steal second, took third when the throw went into center field and came around to score when the outfielder hesitated to throw it in.
“They just put me in to pinch-run and that’s usually where I play my role, just get around the bases and try to score,” Arnold said.
“It felt really good to get the team going, put two up early.”
St. Mary's scored two more in the second when Cole Sibley singled, stole second and after Jack Mooney walked, Ryan DuSang followed with a bunt single to load the bases. After Dillon Kark bounced into a fielder’s choice with the third baseman throwing home to force out Sibley, Alex Mooney hit a two-run, two-out single to left for a 4-0 cushion.
St. Mary's increased the lead to 6-0 in the third, getting three more hits, including an RBI single by Jack Mooney.
Kark, who will play next year at Michigan State, took the mound in place of Porter in the seventh and got a double play ball to end the game and start a wild celebration.
“I saw the dogpile and it was pretty cool, but it kind of hurt,” Kark said of getting mobbed by his teammates after the win.