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May 8, 2013

Lake Orion takes aim at long playoff run with beefed-up rotation

By Mike Moore
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
Nick Vogelmeier rounds third base during a recent game. The Dragons were 11-3 at press time.

LAKE ORION — With the fields drying out and schedules gradually getting back on track, the general fear amongst many baseball coaches in the area is finding enough arms to sustain what is sure to be a wild finish to the regular season.

Of course, skippers can call on their top guy in the rotation, and many have a solid No. 2 to fall back on, but few have depth beyond that to carry through league doubleheaders and weekend events on a consistent basis.

Andrew Schramek does.

“It’s almost like the rain was an advantage,” Schramek, the Lake Orion coach, said with a laugh last week. “A lot of teams will use one or two guys to get you through league play, then find ways to take part in the weekend. But we have four solid arms. Our feeling is if we score four runs in any game, we have a great shot to win.”

Winning is nothing new for the Dragons, who were 30-8 last spring, before falling to Hartland High in a Division 1 regional final.

A good portion of that team returned in 2013.

At press time, the guys were 11-3 overall and 6-2 in the Oakland Activities Association Red Division, tied for first place.

The defense has been great, and the offense has found ways to generate runs all year.

But the difference has been on the mound.

“We have three D-1 guys that have been looked at and offered scholarships, and a sophomore that’s going to be great for us,” Schramek explained. “This whole team is strong, but pitching is always an advantage.”

Senior left-hander Nick Deeg anchors the group, again.

At press time, he was 3-1 with a 0.61 ERA.

Junior lefty Brad Schanzer was 3-0, with a 0.50 ERA, while junior Josh Bays was 2-1 with a 2.50 ERA and sophomore Ken Guldi was 1-2 with a 2.70 ERA.

“That group is what gives us an advantage, come playoff time, as well,” Schramek said. “Every team has that top guy, so anybody can beat anyone. But with the depth we have, it’s something we like.”

He was quick to credit the rest of the team, too.

Schramek is working with a veteran group; many have spent three or four years with the varsity club.

“We enjoy the way they all play,” he said. “They’ve been around enough. … There are times I’m at third base or in the dugout, and I’m just watching and enjoying what they can do. I look at it and say, ‘These guys would do just fine if us coaches didn’t even show up.’”

The solid play, the strong pitching and a lineup of hitters who are getting stronger by the game has fueled the same set of expectations the Dragons set every spring. It has also led the squad to the No. 2 spot in the latest coaches association poll.

“We want to win the league and win the last game of the year,” Schramek said. “There are plenty of good teams out there, teams that have great rosters, but we have the pitching and we have the offense. It’s a matter of being consistent and finding some guys at the bottom of the lineup to contribute at the key time. If we do that, you have to like what we have (come playoff time).”

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mike Moore at mmoore@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1038. Twitter Follow Mike on Twitter.