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De La Salle baseball punches ticket to state final with 3-2 win against Howell

June 15, 2012

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Guys on the De La Salle baseball team wait for Dominic DiPuma (1) to reach the plate after he hit a towering sixth inning home run.

BATTLE CREEK — Matt Cook and his Warren De La Salle baseball team were never supposed to be here to begin with.

So, what’s one more day?

The Pilots continued their magical playoff run  in the Division 1 semifinals June 15, getting a timely home run from Dominic DiPuma and a dominant pitching performance from Kevin Carroll in a 3-2 win against Howell High.

“We’re having a blast right now,” Cook said moments after the win. His team was 2-14 at one point this season but will now play for a Division 1 state championship at 12:30 p.m. June 16 at C.O. Brown Stadium against Hudsonville High or Saline High. “Nobody expected us to be here, but here we are.”

The Pilots broke a scoreless tie in the top of the fourth inning when senior Reed Carnagie led off with a double, advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and then scored on a Joe Loria single.

Carroll led off the fifth inning with a single, and his courtesy runner, Matt Beam, scored moments later when Carnagie ripped a double to right-center.

A throwing error in the bottom of the fifth gave way to Howell’s first run of the game, but in the top of the sixth, DiPuma launched a towering shot over the left-field fence.

Howell (30-11) scored once more in the sixth, but was shut down in order by Carroll in the seventh inning.

The senior right-hander allowed just four hits and struck out six while improving to 7-2 this season from the mound.

“Kevin is our workhorse,” Cook said. “He’s our No. 1, our go-to guy, and today he went out and did what a good senior does in games like this.”

As for starting the season with just two wins and now being one victory shy of another state title?

“You know, we believe in playing baseball a certain way, and these guys never let being 2-14 affect them,” Cook said. “They stuck with it and believed things would turn around.”

According to MHSAA Communications Director John Johnson, De La Salle, now 20-22-1, would be the first sub-.500 baseball team to win a state title. They last won a state baseball title in 2009.

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