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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Published May 16, 2011

The adage is that “numbers don’t lie,” but as Clinton Township Chippewa Valley baseball coach points out, numbers rarely tell the whole story.

With his team at 5-11 heading into the final weeks of the 2011 season, Murphy said that win total does little justice to his team’s effort and how much pride he has leading the Big Reds.

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Published May 10, 2011

If the players on the St. Clair Shores South Lake baseball team didn’t know who Jose Jimenez was before the start of the 2011 season, all they had to do is was look through the Catholic High School League record book.

As the head baseball coach at Center Line St. Clement, his squads won the 2004 Catholic League title, qualified for two Catholic League championship games, won five division championships, four Division 4 district crowns and one regional title.
And he was an assistant coach for the St. Clement squad that made it to the 1996 Class D state final.

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Published May 10, 2011

Clinton Township Clintondale baseball coach Scott Evans is sick and tired of the gym at Clintondale.

With massive cancellations and indoor practices because of rain, Evans has tired of seeing his team in batting cages, and it’s forced him to change just about everything in his plans to keep his team in shape.

“We’ve only had five games, and I haven’t been able to find out where we’re at,” Evans said May 4 prior to his team’s game against St. Clair Shores South Lake.

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Published May 9, 2011

ROYAL OAK — The exact genesis of his motivation is, admittedly, unknown.

But Dan Noble vividly remembers his playing days with the Royal Oak Shrine baseball team, and more so, the desire to one day come back to the Knights and serve as coach.

Following graduation in 2002, four years on Michigan State University’s baseball team and countless other coaching endeavors, Noble’s back.

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Published May 3, 2011

FARMINGTON HILLS — He’s seen it happen before, which is why he knows it can happen again.

Mike O’Connell has been a part of the North Farmington baseball program for the past 14 years, serving as the junior varsity head coach for the past 10.

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Published April 27, 2011

TROY — There was going to be some hesitation and second-guessing.

Over the prior eight years, Jim Ellis had transformed the Berkley High baseball program into a winner. He’d taken his alma mater from a struggling team and created an annual contender in the Oakland Activities Association.

So, walking away was never going to be easy.

“Tough,” was the only way Ellis could describe his decision to leave Berkley for the same position with the Troy High program.

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Published April 26, 2011

FARMINGTON HILLS — April 19 was one of those days football linemen dream of — cold and rainy, a gray sky and a murky feel to the air.

What offensive guard, center or tackle wouldn’t love to dig in and clash helmets in weather like that?

Unfortunately, the recent fall-like conditions aren’t exactly ideal for spring players and coaches, especially when they occur on a day when longtime rivals are set to face one another.

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Published April 25, 2011

Fraser High baseball coach Dave Kuppe could get used to his team surprising him this year.

A week from starting their Macomb Area Conference Gold Division season, the Ramblers improved to 4-2 April 21 with a 4-3 win against Utica Ford II of the MAC White.

“I don’t think the kids even realize who is in which league,” Kuppe said when asked how his players responded to the win.

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Published April 21, 2011

Eastpointe East Detroit will host Utica High, Temperance Bedford and Dearborn Heights Robichaud at 10 a.m. April 23 at Memorial Park in Eastpointe.

Following the first-round games, the championship and third-place games are slated for a 1 p.m. start time.

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Published April 13, 2011

The Grosse Pointe Times selected its 2011 All-Grosse Pointe preseason team with players from Grosse Pointe South, Grosse Pointe North and Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett to form a single team that would be quite formidable.

Pitcher, North senior Sean Koerber — North’s 6-foot-5-inch 212-pound ace is the “little” brother of 2000’s Mr. Baseball, Scott Koerber. Sean made a name for himself going 6-1 as a junior,

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Published March 30, 2011

BERKLEY — Jordan Gruppen is ready to tweak.

More than that really isn’t needed.

If a first-year coach ever inherited a team that exemplifies the saying “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” it’s the Berkley High baseball coach.

“We’ll change a few things and work on some small stuff in a different way, but there isn’t a lot I need or want to do differently,” Gruppen said last week. “Things worked last year with this group, and they look pretty strong right off the bat.”

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Published March 22, 2011

FARMINGTON — There’s a fine line baseball coaches must walk at this time of year, one that they have very little control over and is often determined by the previous night’s 11 p.m. newscast.

“If we get outside a couple times in the first couple weeks, I’ll be more than happy,” first-year North Farmington coach Mike O’Connell said last week. “It’s a blessing you can only hope for. You certainly can’t plan for it.”

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