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May 21, 2013

NDP relishes opportunity to play at Comerica Park

By Mike Moore
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
Prep junior Mike Wayne rounds third base during the May 16 C-D Division title game. Prep played at Comerica for the first time since 2009.

DETROIT — His team was facing arguably the best in all of high school baseball.

A considerable underdog, Darren Audia and Pontiac Notre Dame Prep were also trying to do something the program hadn’t done in 16 years.

Stress and pressure were expectations, to be sure.

“But you know what — I told the kids before we got here that this was a day we couldn’t lose,” Audia said, standing on the infield at Comerica Park. “I mean, look around. Look where we are and the opportunity we had. Win or lose in this game, this day was a victory for all of us.”

For the first time since 2009, the Fighting Irish were at Comerica and playing for the Catholic League C-D Division title.

Facing a Madison Heights Bishop Foley team that had lost once all season — a 6-5 setback to Prep — eventually proved to be too much to handle for the guys in green and gold, who fell 8-2.

Prep actually out-hit Foley 9-5, but giving up eight walks proved costly.

“I said coming into the game that we couldn’t make many mistakes,” he said. “We didn’t have any major errors, but you can’t walk that many times.”

The Ventures broke a scoreless game with five runs in the third.

Prep answered with a pair in the fourth, but Foley (25-1) answered right back and extended the lead for good.

“I really like the way we played,” Audia said. “I actually thought we played loose and played well. We’re a very young team. I think we’ll be back here before too long.”

As for the experience and playing at Comerica?

“Once the loss wears off, this is something these guys will keep with them the rest of their lives,” Audia added. Prep (17-10) was seeking its first title since 1997. “It’s such a great experience. It’s an honor to be down here and be part of this.”

“It was unreal,” senior third baseman Nick George said. “We worked so hard to get here and to have this chance.”

George said the loss hardly took anything away from being on the field he was now set to exit.

“I mean, I’m standing on a major league infield, in the same spot as (Miguel) Cabrera,” he said with a smile. “It was so cool. It’s spooky how exciting this whole day was.”

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