Baseball

Published April 11, 2012

LAKE ORION — There’s been five runs allowed in the first four games, and in those first four games, there were three wins.

Solid pitching is hardly unique to baseball coaches when it comes to laying out the key to any successful team.

But when Lake Orion High skipper Andrew Schramek talked about that particular attribute, he referred to it as a strength, not a key.

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Published April 11, 2012

ST. CLAIR SHORES — After the Cougars made it to the regional round of the 2011 state playoffs, Macomb Dakota second-year baseball coach Matt Carley has his sights set on a deep playoff run in 2012.

“I can’t say I wouldn’t be disappointed if we didn’t get back there,” Carley said of his team, which went 19-12, 4-6 in the Macomb Area Conference Red Division. Of the 18 players on the current roster, nine were a part of last year’s regional qualifier.

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Published April 9, 2012

ROYAL OAK — There’s a sense of confidence about the team, and there are plenty of reasons for it.

There’s an offense that expects to score some runs; a defense that sees itself as a well-oiled machine.

Then there’s a pitching staff that was solid before the MHSAA changed any rules on the bats, but now hopes to take full advantage of it.

But most of all, as Royal Oak High baseball coach Chris Lau and a few of his guys explained, the confidence being felt here this year comes from a combination of talent and team work.

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Published April 3, 2012

ROYAL OAK — While there may never be a suitable answer as to whether or not momentum can carry over from one season to the next, guys on the Royal Oak Shrine baseball team have no problem believing it does.

And why shouldn’t they?

The Knights didn’t exactly hit the ground running last year, but from the midpoint of the season on, few were better in Division 4.

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Published March 30, 2012

MADISON HEIGTHS — When the spring of 2011 ended, Brett Sunde and Luke Ortel were basking in an unrelenting Battle Creek sun, tears and dirt smudged across their faces while the celebration of a state title carried on around them.

Some nine months later, the Madison Heights Bishop Foley seniors and the rest of the baseball team are set to embark on a task some consider more daunting than what was accomplished last year — defending the title.

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Published March 28, 2012

MADISON HEIGHTS — After losing seven players from last year’s team who’ve gone on to play at the college level, Madison Heights Lamphere baseball coach Adam Wooley isn’t ready to call the 2012 campaign a rebuild.

“We’re pretty young in spots, but the good thing about this team that I’ve seen in the early stages is that these guys are focused on the high school baseball process,” Wooley said.

“We had some guys last year who might have been looking ahead to college. This group is more cohesive.”

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Published July 8, 2011

MADISON HEIGTHS — For six innings, Dan Zuchowski labored.

For six innings, he did exactly what was asked and gave his team a chance at a pinnacle of success it had never known before.

Three batters hit by pitches suggested his location was a bit off, but when that big pitch was needed — when the bases were loaded and pressure was mounting — he came through.

And when he was asked to take on another role, he did that, too.

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Published June 28, 2011

BATTLE CREEK — On March 15, it officially began.

Everything made possible now originated way back then.

There would be countless hours of work, some of it seemingly tedious.

There would be weekends spent in a batting cage reviewing the simplest aspects of a swing. Other days, on the field behind the school, battling ground balls on rain-soaked dirt.

The belief and hope all along was that this would be worth it.

On June 18, it certainly was.

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Published June 23, 2011

BATTLE CREEK — If there was pressure, they never showed it.

If tension was mounting, cooler heads prevailed.

If there were any thoughts of this magical season slipping away on the final day, well, the Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett baseball team wasn’t going to stand for it.

Sure, the Knights trailed for nearly six full innings.

Sure, they had plenty of chances that resulted in runners left on base, but Dan Cimini stressed all season that his team was the best Division 4 had to offer.

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Published June 15, 2011

This was a journey nobody could have ever scripted.

This was a road with more potholes and detours than a Michigan freeway in summer.
Yet through it all, this was a team that never let the final destination escape its radar, a group focused and committed on deeming every obstacle of this twisting and turning voyage worth it in the end.

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Published June 15, 2011

Dan Noble admitted that he really didn’t know what to expect when he took over the Royal Oak Shrine baseball program. He wasn’t sure what type of players he had or what reasonable expectations he could set.

Still, he maintained that no matter what happened, there were certain things that could be done with a payoff at the end that all would enjoy.

He was right.

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Published June 14, 2011

This was a journey nobody could have ever scripted.

This was a road with more potholes and detours than a Michigan freeway in summer.
Yet through it all, this was a team that never let the final destination escape its radar, a group focused and committed on deeming every obstacle of this twisting and turning voyage worth it in the end.

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Published June 7, 2011

The offense was dynamite.

During two district games, it exploded for 25 runs and a pair of wins.

But when asked about his team’s district title from last weekend, Ferndale High baseball coach John Sibula was quick to talk about the main weapon any coach loves to have during the playoffs.

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Published June 7, 2011

ST. CLAIR SHORES — There were a couple of different ways Chris Kuppe could have looked at the 2011 baseball season.

It was one in which a streak of five consecutive division titles ended.

It was, as he said, one that was a struggle for him and his guys for reasons he really couldn’t explain.

It’s also going to serve as a building block for the future.

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Published June 2, 2011

WEST BLOOMFIELD — It was a last-minute decision that may have just turned a season upside down.

In fact, as he spoke about it last week, Eric Pierce maintained a certain disbelief at how a chance trip to a random tournament that was designed to more or less take up some time was the propellant his team needed to go from winless to hard to beat.

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Published June 1, 2011

It’s a common theme, or cliché, that the two coaches have been stressing with their respective teams for more than a week now.

The message is the same, but the motivation behind it couldn’t be different.

“They always say how hard it is to beat a team for the third time; well, that’s something we’re focusing on,” Rochester High baseball coach Eric Magiera said last week in regards to his team’s June 4 district semifinal game against Troy High. “We hope to use that thought in our favor.”

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Published May 24, 2011

TROY — Admittedly, Jim Ellis expected the transition to take some time before things officially got rolling.

He was a new coach, working in a new program with a roster full of new players.

But he didn’t foresee five losses in the first six games.

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Published May 18, 2011

LATHRUP VILLAGE — Upon hearing the word “district,” smiles were impossible to hide.

Sure, the playoff tournament was still some three weeks away, and as is the case with any team in early May, plenty of work still had to be done before too many postseason thoughts could see the light of day.

But those smiles remained and told a story the Lathrup Village Southfield-Lathrup baseball team doesn’t shy away from.

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Published May 18, 2011

TROY — Mike Morris joked about feeling as if he is aging quicker this season than any before it.

It’s a reality he’s come to accept over the course of this spring. In fact, he’s enjoying it.

And with good reason.

“As long as we keep winning, I really can’t complain,” the Troy Athens baseball coach said last week.

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Published May 17, 2011

BERKLEY — Jordan Gruppen said the pitching’s been good.

He called the defense “solid.”

So the Berkley High baseball coach has two-thirds of any skipper’s dream already working like a well-oiled machine.

“If the offense comes to life, we’re going to be a team that will make a run,” he said.

Gruppen spoke the afternoon of May 10. At the time, his team was 7-7 overall and fresh off a rare 17-run explosion the day before in a win against Southfield High.

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