Utica Eisenhower senior pitcher John Fantauzzo delivers during a Division 1 regional semifinal contest with Birmingham Brother Rice June 9. The Eagles fell 6-4 to close out the year with a 19-14 overall record.

Utica Eisenhower senior pitcher John Fantauzzo delivers during a Division 1 regional semifinal contest with Birmingham Brother Rice June 9. The Eagles fell 6-4 to close out the year with a 19-14 overall record.

Photo by Erin Sanchez


Eisenhower baseball falls in regional semifinal

By: Timothy Pontzer | Shelby - Utica News | Published June 11, 2018

SHELBY TOWNSHIP — The baseball season for Utica Eisenhower came to a close June 9 with a 6-4 loss to Birmingham Brother Rice in a Division 1 regional semifinal at Lake Orion High.

“It was a great ride with a great group of guys,” Ike coach Steve Spisak said. “I just wish the ride lasted one week longer.”

After longtime coach Jason Gendreau stepped down from the helm of the program to take the same role at Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, Spisak filled the void on varsity. He had previously coached the Ike freshman and JV ranks for 13 years.

Spisak credited a large group of upperclassmen for making his first year a success. The roster was comprised of 12 seniors, 10 juniors and a sophomore.

“Having 12 seniors made the coaching staff’s job so much easier, and it laid the foundation for the junior class to get a head start heading into next year. I can’t thank the graduating seniors enough. We didn’t reach all of our goals this year, but a district championship means we had a very good year and battled every day to get better.”

During the playoff run, a pair of seniors led the way as pitcher John Fantauzzo threw 19 innings with two shutouts and 26 strikeouts. Second baseman Ben Mets had nine hits in 15 at-bats with two home runs and six RBIs. Fantauzzo will play at Saginaw Valley State University, while Mets will head to Kalamazoo Valley Community College.

“The Eisenhower baseball program showed they were a force today and in the future,” Spisak said. “We had 12 unbelievable seniors, but we also have 11 returning varsity players and a very successful JV squad that’s ready to put in work to prepare for next year.”

The Eagles finished the year at 19-14.

“By far, I am most proud of the fight in my guys,” Spisak said. “We fought, win or lose. We never backed down. In 33 games, there were only seven games when our opponent had more quality at-bats than us. That means we battled each and every at-bat. That’s all you ask for from a team.”

Ike clinched its first district title since 2015 with a 9-2 win over Rochester High June 2.

“We played our best baseball at the end of the (Macomb Area Conference) Red (Division) season and in the playoffs when it really matters the most,” Spisak remarked. “All 23 guys added something that this team needed, and I’d like to thank each and every one of them. The 2018 team accomplished a lot (by) winning a very difficult district. The expectations will be very high for the 2019 squad.”