In one of the biggest games the Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett baseball program had ever had, coach Dan Cimini called on his junior pitcher to face a two-time defending state champ that had already won 31 games.
Roughly two hours later, Alex Daar walked off the mound in Battle Creek having allowed one earned run while striking out nine in a 5-1 victory against Beal City High.
A day later, Liggett captured just its second baseball state title ever.
His performance on the mound in that 2011 state semifinal encapsulated Daar’s season.
A year later, not much had changed.
On June 25, one day before starting for the East squad in the 2012 Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association All-Star Game, Daar was named co-Mr. Baseball along with Holt High pitcher Justin Alleman.
“Honestly, this meant so much to me,” Daar, a Clinton Township resident said. “It’s a tremendous honor. I was in a bit of shock when I found out. When I got over the shock, I just felt so grateful for all the people who helped to make this possible.”
The award was easy to justify, though, especially considering the types of numbers Daar posted in 2012.
The Liggett grad finished the season with a 16-1 record on the mound.
In 98 innings, he had a 0.50 ERA, struck out 164 batters while walking just 26, and dealt three no-hitters and four one-hitters. Offensively, he hit .558 with four home runs and 43 RBI.
The lone senior starter for Liggett, Daar help guide the Knights back to Battle Creek before the season ended in a 4-1 loss to Decatur High in the D-4 final.
“He’s one of the best kids I’ve ever coached,” Cimini said of Daar. “He was very quiet, all business. He was one of those guys that led by example on the field, but was just as awesome in the classroom. I mean, he was everything you could want as a player.”
Asked what made Daar so dominant, especially on the mound, Cimini said simply, “he never walked anyone.”
“He pounded the strike zone,” the Liggett skipper added. “He attacked. He wanted to go out and face the best teams and best players on our schedule. He did an awesome job his whole time here.”
After transferring to Liggett prior to his junior year — Daar played two years of varsity ball at Chippewa Valley — he was 28-3 wearing red, white and blue with a 0.60 ERA.
“I don’t think the guys on the team realize just what he meant to us,” Cimini added. “They will next year, when he’s not here, but I don’t think they really even could yet. He was the glue that kept this team together. It’s going to be tough without him around.”
Daar said winning a state title was the best moment of his career at Liggett, but admitted a Mr. Baseball award was something he will never forget.
The hard-throwing right-hander said he is still deciding on college. He’s considering Hope College in Holland or the University of Michigan.
Daar said whether or not he continues his baseball career will play a large factor on where he goes to school.