Brother Rice rolls past Catholic Central to claim league title

By: Mike Moore | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published May 16, 2013

DETROIT — Playing in a venue like this never gets old.

Matt Ruppenthal can attest to that.

“But winning here makes it even better,” the Birmingham Brother Rice junior pitcher said after the 2013 Catholic League A-B Division championship game at Comerica Park.

For the second consecutive season, Ruppenthal took the mound at Comerica, and for the second straight season, the Warriors took home league’s top prize.

“I never like to look at the years together, but it was nice for some of our new guys to get the chance to play here, and some of our older guys have the chance to defend the title,” Rice coach Bob Riker said Thursday afternoon following the 12-2 mercy victory against Novi Detroit Catholic Central. “You always hope to put yourself in a position to be down here. And to win makes it even more special.”

Rice got going early, using some small ball to put runners in scoring position.

Ruppenthal then helped himself, ripping a two-out single to score the game’s first run.

The Shamrocks loaded the bases in the second and evened the game on a walk, but Rice bounced right back in the bottom of the third when Sammy Stevens plated a run with a single for a 2-1 lead.

The Warriors' big inning was the fourth.

After loading the bases, Stevens earned an RBI with a walk, and Bobby Cross brought two runs home with a single to left.

By the time the frame ended, Rice was up 6-1 and never looked back.

Catholic Central scored its second run in the sixth.

But in the bottom of the sixth, Freddy Jehle got Rice going with a triple and later scored on a John Garry single.

Garry reached the plate moments later when Plummer tripled to deep center.

Steven Ring drew a bases-loaded walk to make it 9-2, Nick Plummer drove in a run with a sacrifice fly, and then Alex Malzone ended the game with a three-RBI double to left.

Rice (22-9) won last year’s A-B title 6-0 against the University of Detroit Jesuit, and has now claimed the trophy four times since 2007.

Catholic Central was seeking its first title since 2001.

“It’s a big-time moment,” Riker added.

“It never gets old,” said Ruppenthal, who struck out two and allowded just five hits allowed. He pitched Rice to victory a year ago, as well. “You have a few more fans at the game than usual. You get to play in this stadium and in this atmosphere. It never gets old.”