WEST BLOOMFIELD — The joy was palpable, a flooding of emotions, the release of years of frustration all at once.
When the final out was finally recorded, players poured from the dugout, students in the crowd high-fived, and parents embraced in the stands.
And this was after a predistrict win.
When the West Bloomfield High baseball team upset Brother Rice in a May 29 Division 1 playoff opener, they had reason to celebrate.
But there was also a need to regroup.
“We enjoy this now, and then it’s back to work with a good practice,” Lakers coach Eric Pierce said following the 9-7 victory. “There’s a lot of good baseball still to be played.”
He needed his guys to come back to Earth, so to speak, and finish what was started.
And they did.
Two days later, West Bloomfield cruised past Southfield-Lathrup 11-1 in a district semi and then crushed Seaholm 11-5 to claim the district title.
“It was great — it was something this program needed badly,” Pierce said. “We’d been so close so many times, but to finish the game and finish the district was something we needed. It was one of the biggest goals we had.”
The crown was the first for the Lakers since the 2007 team reached the state quarterfinals.
Rice had won the district every year since then.
“Our pithing maybe wasn’t as sharp as it has been, but we made every play. We stayed aggressive on the base paths and took the game to our opponents. That’s when we’re at our best.”
The Lakers (23-10) took part in the Hartland High regional June 7 against Northville High in a game played after press time.
Win or lose in the regional round, though, the 2014 season, more specifically the district title, was something Pierce said this team will remember.
“This has been a great year, a year that started a little slow until we got our rhythm,” Pierce said. “If you look back and see how far they’ve come, and look at the strides we’ve made, I think we’re one of the best teams in the state when we play at our best.”
Check back to our website for the latest playoff coverage, including an update on West Bloomfield’s journey in the D-1 tournament.