Metro DetroitMay 13, 2014
Catholic League baseball finals features a pair of solid matchups
By Mike Moore
C & G Staff Writer
Brother Rice’s Preston Pilat (22) celebrates with his teammates during a win against De La Salle. Rice is seeking its third consecutive Catholic League title.
The Catholic League baseball finals are set for Comerica Park, and the 2014 schedule certainly isn’t lacking any star power.
It even comes with a pretty cool twist.
For the third straight season, Birmingham Brother Rice will compete in the AB Division championship, and for coach Bob Riker, seeking a third straight title isn’t the only thing he’s looking forward to.
“To have a chance to coach against a former player is special,” Riker said of his team’s game against Matt Petry’s Orchard Lake St. Mary’s squad. Petry played for Riker in his time at Rice. “This is why I continue to coach and be a part of this. To have a player like Matt, and see what he’s done with St. Mary’s, and now get to face him for a championship, means a lot to me.”
“It’s probably not a big deal to the kids, but for me, it’s something cool,” Petry said of facing his former skipper. “It makes this whole experience a little more special.”
The teams will square off at 12:30 p.m. on May 15.
In the semifinals, Rice trailed Dearborn Divine Child 3-2 in the fifth inning before roaring back for a 7-3 victory.
Rice beat Novi Detroit Catholic Central 12-2 in last year’s final and beat the University of Detroit Jesuit in the 2012 title game.
“It’s nice to get back there again,” Riker said. “I can’t remember too many teams I’ve coached that went three straight times. But to go there and play in a park like that, it’s something these kids dream of. It will be a lifelong memory for these guys.”
St. Mary’s beat Warren De La Salle 7-2 in its semifinal, earning the program its first trip to Comerica since a 12-2 loss to Rice back in 2007.
“It’s a huge deal for these kids, especially the seniors,” Petry said. “These guys came in with me, and to go through this whole process of turning the program around, especially with the five that have been on varsity four years, is pretty cool.”
The teams have met four times already this season, with Rice winning every contest.
“I think that plays against us,” Riker said. “When you’re a high school kid and you beat a team four times, it can take that edge off. A new day can be a new ending. We can’t be too confident or overconfident.”
Riker said senior Matt Ruppenthal will get the start on the mound for the third consecutive year.
“Matt is a great pitcher, and we know that,” Petry said. “Any mistakes he makes, which will be few and far between, we have to take advantage of it.”
In the CD Division championship, set for 10 a.m., Madison Heights Bishop Foley and Pontiac Notre Dame Prep will play against one another for the second season in a row.
Foley is seeking its fourth consecutive league title after last year’s 8-2 victory.
For Prep and coach Darren Audia, 2014 is all about redemption.
“To get back there and have another shot at them is huge,” he said. “I think, last year, the goal was to get there and about the experience. This year, the goal is to go and win.”
Foley, playing in its fifth straight league title, beat Allen Park Cabrini 8-4 in the semis.
Prep beat Royal Oak Shrine 9-0, but is 1-3 against the Ventures this season.
“They haven’t seen our No. 1 or No. 2 pitcher yet, so that could be the difference,” Audia said. “They have good pitching, too, so we have to hit. And last year the errors really hurt us. We have to be strong defensively, as well.”