FAIR HAVEN — Matt Carley’s tenure as Macomb Dakota baseball coach has been filled with lots of success.
The Cougars under Carley have won three Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 1 district championships in Carley’s four years with the team and has eclipsed the 20-win plateau the last three years, along with a 19-win season in 2011.
The Cougars, which finished second in the Macomb Area Conference Red Division, knocked off Port Huron High 9-3 May 31 at Port Huron to clinch a D-1 district title to go along with district titles in 2011 and 2013. Dakota’s season ended, though, in a 2-1 loss to Warren De La Salle in eight innings in a regional semifinal. The Cougars end the season with a 22-11 record.
“We had a great group of seniors this year, but we were young,” Carley said June 7. “If you watched the game, we made some young mistakes, especially a couple at the end that cost us. But (we) were in (the game).
“Being young, the nice thing about that is a lot of the kids will be juniors and seniors next year with a lot of experience under their belts.”
De La Salle took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning on a sacrifice fly. The Cougars tied the game at one in the top of the sixth inning with an RBI single by Tyler Riddoch.
Carley, after the loss, thanked his seniors for their efforts. Those seven players — Frank Maloney, Brendan Mangan, Joe Oberliesen, Phil Gacki, Andrew Manduzzi, Zac Hines and Riddoch — came into the program at the same time as Carley. In that talk, Carley told his players to think about the good things they did in 2014.
“We tried to stay positive,” Carley said. “It’s tough. These kids play at a very high level. I think we got a lot out of this group. We could’ve gotten a little more out of them, though.”
Dakota has 14 players from its regional roster who will be eligible to return next season, including junior pitcher Cole Sanderson, who pitched a complete game in the June 7 loss.
“Cole is such a tough kid. He’s a competitor and a good player,” Carley said. “He gets to come back next year, and that’s great. It’s tough to lose a game he pitched so well.”
Carley is expecting another solid season from everyone who returns.
“You want to compete for a MAC Red title. You want to win a district title. You want to win a regional title, and you want to see what happens from there,” Carley said. “Our expectations are always high.”