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June 16, 2012

Mistakes plague De La Salle baseball team in Division 1 final loss to Hudsonville

By Mike Moore
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
Guys on the De La Salle baseball team celebrate a run during the D-1 final. The Pilots fell to Hudsonville 9-6 in the game.

BATTLE CREEK — The magic ride ended one trick shy of the ultimate prize.

For some three weeks now, the Warren De La Salle baseball team defied the odds while marching through the Division 1 playoff bracket.

Entering the postseason with a 13-22-1 record, the Pilots saved their best baseball for the most important part of the spring, eventually landing in a June 16 final against Hudsonville High.

The Eagles refused to be the latest upset, though, and on the heels of a four-run sixth inning, beat De La Salle 9-6 to capture the first state title in program history.

“I’m real proud of the way we battled here today,” said De La Salle skipper Matt Cook, whose guys beat Howell High 3-2 in the semifinals, ending the season 20-23-1. “We got behind, then had to claw back. Then got behind again and had to claw back. It wasn’t our best game of the year, not by a long shot, but we fought and battled against a very good team.”

Each team scored once in the first inning. After Hudsonville got a run on a De La Salle error, the Pilots responded with an unearned run of their own in the bottom half of the frame.

Two singles and another Hudsonville error allowed De La Salle to take a 2-1 lead in the second, but the Pilots left the bases loaded, leaving Cook wondering what could have been.

“You never know, but if we get a couple more runs there, it probably changes their approach to the game,” he said. “That was tough to just get the one.”

The very next inning, Hudsonville’s Tyler Baar hit a mammoth, three-run home run to center field, and the Eagles took a 4-2 lead.

The Pilots responded again in the bottom of the inning, and with singles from Reed Carnagie, Dominic DiPuma and Joe Loria, and tied the game at 4-4.

A miscue on botched suicide squeezed allowed Hudsonville to take a 5-4 lead in the top of the fifth, and the Eagles added four more in the sixth.

De La Salle climbed back into the game thanks to a two-RBI single by Kevin Carroll in the sixth, narrowing the gap to 9-6, but saw the threat end on a diving play by Hudsonville first baseman Hunter Prince.

The Pilots finished the game with five errors, and only five of Hudsonville's run were earned.

“Against a team that good, you can’t make the mistakes we did and expect to win,” Cook said. “But again, the way my guys battled, here and all season, shows what kind of kids they are. I’m really proud of what they did.”

Hudsonville, which beat Saline High 4-3 in the semifinals, ends the year with a 32-10 overall record.

De La Salle was trying to become the first baseball team ever to win a state title with a sub.-500 record.
 

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