De La Salle baseball continues improbable journey to Battle Creek, upsets Hartland 7-0 in quarters

By: Mike Moore | Warren Weekly | Published June 12, 2012

MADISON HEIGHTS — Legitimately, or maybe just superstitiously, Matt Cook admitted his nervousness entering a June 12 quarterfinal in the Division 1 baseball playoffs.

“I thought we used up all our swings (in the regional round),” Cook said of his Warren De La Salle baseball team, which won a regional title thanks to 27 runs scored in two games June 9.

His nerves were calmed early against Hartland High, though, as the Pilots crossed home plate five times in the top of the first inning on their way to a 7-0 victory and spot in the D-1 semifinals in Battle Creek.

“Shocked right now,” Cook said after the win, just moments before being doused with a bucket of ice water. “If you told me a month ago we’d be in this position, I don’t think anyone could have envisioned it.”

A 2-14 team at one point in the year, De La Salle opened the game with a walk and then four consecutive singles.

The big hit of the opening frame came with one out, as senior Joe Loria ripped a two-RBI double.

De La Salle added another run in the second and one more in the third.

That was more than enough offense for senior Nick Ciaramitaro, who was simply dominant on the mound, allowing just four Hartland hits while striking out four.

“I felt like I came into the game with a good mindset and just stayed focused throughout,” Ciaramitaro said. “Getting five runs certainly helps, but I still had to go out and throw strikes.”

De La Salle, now 19-22-1, faces Howell High at noon June 15 on Morrison Field at Bailey Park in Battle Creek.

Asked about the game, Cook smiled saying, “I just have to let these guys do what they’ve been doing. I’d hate to change too much right now.”

De La Salle is heading back to Battle Creek for the first time since winning a D-1 title in 2009.

The D-1 final is set for 12:30 p.m. June 16 at C.O. Brown Stadium.

Foley still alive
In Division 3 action at Adrian College, Bishop Foley kept its title defense alive with a 1-0 victory against Hillsdale High.

“We left 11 men on base, while they didn’t have a guy past second base. So it was kind of a weird game,” Foley coach Buster Sunde said.

Foley scored the game’s only run in the first inning.

Luke Ortel led off with a single, stole second and then scored on a Brett Sunde single.

“It wasn’t pretty, but some days this is what the game’s about,” Buster Sunde added. “We just told the kids we had to come out, enjoy the energy and take care of what we can.”

Foley, now 39-3, heads back to Battle Creek for the third consecutive year and faces Saginaw Nouvel at 4 p.m. June 15 at Nichols Field.

“We don’t know anything about them right now,” Buster Sunde said of the semifinal. “We’re going to prepare, take lots of batting practice, and hopefully, find a few more timely hits.”

The Division 3 final is set for 6:30 p.m. June 16 at C.O. Brown Stadium.

A chance to defend
Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett also kept its title defense going June 12, scoring five early runs and then hanging on for a 5-3 victory against New Lothrop High in a Division 4 quarterfinal at Novi High.

“It was another good win,” Liggett coach Dan Cimini said. “That was a scrappy team that was tough to beat. We weren’t great, but we got a strong pitching performance and hit when we had to.”

Fresh off a 10-strikeout performance in the regional final, senior Alex Darr struck out 11 in the quarterfinal.

Liggett, now 24-3, faces a Rudyard High team that resides in the Upper Peninsula at 10 a.m. June 15 at Nichols Field.

The June 16 D-4 final is set for 9:30 a.m., also at C.O. Brown Stadium.