BATTLE CREEK — One year later, and not much has changed.
Sure, there’s been some roster turnover, new names and new faces thrust into new roles, but in the landscape of Division 3 baseball, Madison Heights Bishop Foley remains supreme.
On June 16, from C.O. Brown Stadium in Battle Creek, the Ventures defended their 2011 state title, getting a two-run home run from senior Brett Sunde in the bottom half of the first inning and eventually cruising to an 8-2 win against Lansing Catholic.
“I’m so happy for these guys,” coach Buster Sunde said after the win. “There’s so much work that goes into this, so many hours of practice and so much we demand out of them. To get here and earn this shows that it’s all worth it. That’s where my satisfaction comes from, seeing them earn something like this.”
Foley got things going right away, jumping on the board thanks to Brett Sunde’s deep shot to left field.
“That was huge, to get out to an early lead,” Buster Sunde said of his son’s home run. “Brett has seen maybe two inside fastballs all season, but when I saw that pitch coming, I had a feeling he’d be able to do something with it.”
“I kind of knew as soon as I hit it,” Brett Sunde said smiling. “It was pitch I like, and I got a good swing on it.”
The Ventures added to the lead in the third inning when sophomore Garrett Schilling ripped an RBI single and later scored on a single by senior Brian Bayliss, who also earned the win on the mound after allowing six hits and striking out eight.
Lansing Catholic scored once in the fourth and once more in the fifth, but every time the Cougars rallied after that, Bayliss was able to work out of it.
Foley added four more runs in the bottom of the sixth.
Senior Luke Ortel lined a single to right, scoring senior Brad Jones, and then freshman Nathanial Grys scored on a wild throw from the outfield a few batters later.
Ortel eventually scored on a Billy Malak single, and Schilling plated the final run on sacrifice fly.
The Ventures finished the game with 11 hits, but more importantly, got good swings when needed most.
“When we left 12 runners on base in the quarterfinals, we saw how close things could really be,” Buster Sunde said of a 1-0 victory against Hillsdale June 12. “I thought the key today was our approach at the plate. We took good swings when we had chances to make things happen.”
Ranked No. 1 in D-3 from the onset of the season, Foley ends the year with a 38-3 overall record that also includes a Catholic League championship, won last month at Comerica Park.
The Cougars, who won their only baseball championship in 1996, end the year 31-7.