Birmingham Brother Rice's Josh Anschuetz makes a throw June 12 in a Division 1 quarterfinal at Wayne State University.

Birmingham Brother Rice's Josh Anschuetz makes a throw June 12 in a Division 1 quarterfinal at Wayne State University.

Photo by Donna Agusti

Late rally propels Brother Rice to state semifinals

The Warriors sent 13 batters to the plate in the sixth, collecting five hits and nine runs

By: Timothy Pontzer | C&G Newspapers | Published June 12, 2018


DETROIT — A change in mindset led to a change in fortune for Birmingham Brother Rice baseball.

Down 2-0 to Northville High in the sixth inning of a Division 1 state quarterfinal June 12, junior Tito Flores stepped to the plate. WIth two on and nobody out, Flores intended to bunt.

"(Flores) told me he was bunting. I told him, 'Screw that, you're one of the best hitters we've got. Swing away right now,'" Rice coach Bob Riker said. "It's their team but sometimes I have to interject. I'll be honest with you, a little angel in my ear that's not in the dugout told me to swing away. That really wasn't my call, but it worked out."

Flores delivered with a double, notching two RBI to tie the game.

"I just am thankful to Coach Riker for giving me the opportunity. We changed it last minute," Flores said. "That was something special and unimaginable. I'm a big believer in God and all the glory goes to Him."

On the diamond belonging to the Wayne State Warriors, the Warriors of Brother Rice continued the rally. Seniors Reese Trahey and Mac Menard earned walks to load the bases. A strikeout posted two outs on the scoreboard as junior Jake Riem entered the box.

Riem batted a bloop single to score two more. Freshman Will Shannon singled to bring home Menard. A hit batter loaded the bases again with senior Gabe Sotres executing a bunt to score another.

"My guys were overly aggressive at the plate," Riker explained. "I have a great group of seniors. They liked to be around each other and they embrace the younger guys and teach the tradition at Rice. They showed up when we needed them."

Flores found himself batting for the second time in the inning and once again came through. The junior cleared the bases with a triple, capping off the nine-run inning which saw seven score with two outs.

"We put something together and it was just a great inning," Flores said. "It was a magical game, definitely one of the best ones I've ever been apart of. We always feel that were in the game no matter what."

Riker praised Flores for his two hits in the inning but pointed to the overall lineup for the offensive explosion.

"I've seen it before (from Flores). He's a catalyst," Riker said. "He's been great all year. The guys getting on in front of him are the ones that make the deal. Tito was able to finish the deal. He picked us up but those other guys got on to get things started."

Flores agreed.

"To be honest, it's a team game," Flores said. "I can't win a whole game by myself. It's like being a puzzle piece where each guy tries to fit. I'm just happy I was able to do my part."

The Warriors closed out the contest in the top of the seventh, earning the 9-2 victory and advancing to face Brownstown Woodhaven in the semifinals at 5 p.m. June 14 at Michigan State University.

"I can't explain how we did it," Flores said. "It's just the game of baseball itself. We're hoping to keep this rolling and win the whole thing.

Riker believes this year's group has a chance to finish the journey.

"These guys play together and they've got great leadership," Riker said. "The best team doesn't always win in sports. We won the state title in 1992 and we didn't even make the Catholic League playoffs that year. It takes a team that comes together and gets hot and goes on a roll. This team shows up early and stays late. We've created a tradition at Rice and a program that the guys want to be part of. They never want to leave the field or the clubhouse. They believe in each other. We've talked all year long about trusting in each other and believing in yourself. We go hard from the very first pitch. These guys are even keeled and are able to play with adversity. To get this far, you have to have a little luck too."

Call Sports Writer Timothy Pontzer at (586) 279-1107. Follow Sports on Twitter @CandGSports.