Detroit, Rochester, Rochester Hills
Rochester High baseball falls in state quarterfinal
The Falcons ended the campaign winning 17 of their last 22 games
Rochester High senior infielder Matt Hawke prepares a throw to first during the D-1 state quarterfinal June 13. Hawke is one of 10 seniors graduating from the Falcons.
Posted June 13, 2017
DETROIT — For the second straight spring, the Rochester High baseball team saw its season end at Wayne State University.
The Falcons fell 9-5 to Northville High in the Division 1 state quarterfinal, wrapping their campaign at 30-12.
"This is a tough way for everything to end," Rochester coach Eric Magiera said. "Looking back, we had a great year, but we obviously wanted a different outcome today."
Magiera believed the familiar confines of Ernie Harwell Field - the same venue Rochester competed in the quarterfinal last year - benefitted his club early on. The Falcons opened the contest with three runs in the top of the first.
"We came out here and there wasn't a lot of nerves, we were able to come out and just play baseball," Magiera said. "Last year, we were starstruck by everything, but this year you could tell we were focused."
That early jump caused Northville (29-10) to make a pitching change, turning to junior Jonathan Michalak. The right-hander dominated Magiera's lineup, at one point retiring 13 straight batters.
"Once they switched it out, he was getting the fastball by us, and we couldn't catch up with his curveball," Magiera said. "He was hitting his spots and had sharp off speed. We weren't striking out, we just weren't barreling it up. Once we caught up with him, it was too little too late."
Rochester could not light up the scoreboard again until the seventh, putting two more across the plate against Michalak. Magiera was hoping his club could repeat what it did in the regional final June 10, an eight-run seventh-inning rally against Brother Rice.
"We thought for a second we might have a little magic left in the tank there," Magiera said. "We're lucky that we can rattle together runs pretty fast, but they closed it down."
The Falcons tallied seven hits in the contest, a low mark by Magiera's standards. His team also committed four errors, several of which allowing Northville to extend innings and tack on runs.
"Thats really not normal for us, and it's unfortunate that it showed in this game," Magiera said. "You work your butt off to not have those problems, but every once in awhile that happens to you. We haven't had a bad performance like that in quite awhile, and it definitely cost us today."
The loss marked the end for 10 Rochester seniors, a group that Magiera praised extensively. The class helped the Falcons earn at least 20 wins each of the past four seasons.
"I really couldn't be prouder of these guys, this senior class has done so much for us," Magiera said. "They've really helped us to turn this program around, the success would not be possible without them."
One of those seniors, center fielder and leadoff hitter Thomas Loftus spoke through tears after the game. He lamented the loss but was proud of what he and his fellow upperclassmen accomplished during their tenure.
"We've been pulling it out all year, especially last weekend, and we really thought we could get it today, never giving up hope or faith when we started the rally," Loftus said. "The seniors have been together for so long, most of us have been on the team for the past three years and play summer ball together. We knew we could be something special, it was good to see how it came together the past couple years."
A commit to Saginaw Valley State University, Loftus is excited to keep tabs on his alma mater, firmly believing they can continue building on the success his class had.
"We knew how important that leadership was, we were so tight-knit and loved playing with each other," Loftus said. "We put a good base down for the lowerclassmen, and I really think they can do some special stuff next year."
His skipper agreed.
"These guys were not just players for us, but also coaches and role models for our program," Magiera said. "I can't say where we're going to be next year, but I can say that we have a team that will be able to go out there and play with just about anybody because of the way these seniors set things up for them. They left an amazing impact."
About the author
Timothy Pontzer is a sports reporter who covers Oakland and Macomb counties for the Shelby-Utica News, Macomb Chronicle, Troy Times and Rochester Post. Pontzer has worked for C & G Newspapers since 2016 and is a proud graduate of Oakland University.
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