Petry and Eaglets have trio of pitchers that could lead to success in ‘14

By: Mike Moore | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published April 16, 2014

 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Drake Titus makes a catch in the infield in a game earlier this season.

Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Drake Titus makes a catch in the infield in a game earlier this season.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

ORCHARD LAKE — With teams finally climbing out of hibernation, and actually experiencing outdoor baseball, the general consensus in the season’s earliest stages is how pitching usually has the upper hand on hitting.

“When you spend weeks hitting in a cage, it takes some time to get accustomed to the real thing,” Orchard Lake St. Mary’s coach Matt Petry said last week. “It’s pretty common to see pitchers have the advantage early on.”

But if things go as Petry plans, his trio of arms will have that same advantage all spring.

Coming off a 24-16 year in 2013, which included an extra-inning loss to Richmond High in the regional final, the Eaglets brought back a good portion of the roster.

But as Petry explained, none may be more important than his top three starting pitchers, a trio that holds the key to some pretty lofty standards in Orchard Lake.

“They give us a chance to win every time they take the hill,” Petry said. “They’re going to be the guys that lead us.”

The three pitchers are seniors Conor Bowers and Joe Giacalone, and junior Greg Loukinen.

Bowers and Giacalone were the team’s No. 1 and No. 2 a year ago, and “Greg worked very hard from last year until now to put himself in the spot he is (in),” Petry explained.

Asked how he’d line them up as far as his ace, and beyond, Petry said, “I don’t think we have to do that. They could all be our ace, so to speak.”

Entering an April 9 doubleheader against Dearborn Divine Child, St. Mary’s was 3-3 on the young season.

The Eaglets swept the University of Detroit Jesuit in a doubleheader, got swept by Birmingham Brother Rice in a pair of close games and split a doubleheader with East Grand Rapids.

In a victory against East Grand Rapids, Giacalone and Loukinen combined for a no-hitter.

“The way all three of them can change speeds and throw strikes is their strength,” Petry said.

In the season’s first 33 innings, the trio combined to walk just seven batters.

“They put the pressure on the other teams. They won’t beat themselves,” the coach added.

So if the pitching does its thing, the season’s ultimate success may hinge on how quickly the offense can get going.

In St. Mary’s three losses so far, the team combined to score all of five runs.

“We know it’s going to take some time,” Petry said. “We have some guys at the top of the lineup who have done pretty well so far, but we need the rest of the order to come around, too.”

And if they do?

“This is a team that can contend for a Catholic League title, or at least put ourselves in a spot to play in the final,” Petry said. St. Mary’s hasn’t won a league title since 1992, when the team defeated Detroit St. Martin De Porres 3-1.

“Then, you get to the state tournament, and pitching always gives you a chance,” he added.

Aside from the strong pitching, and the potential to have the team’s best season in a while, Petry has a little more riding on this year.

“I’ve been looking forward to this team for a while,” he said. “It’s my fourth year, and this season has always been in the back of my mind. These are the guys that came up with me, and in my mind, this could be a very special year.”