Blue Devils, Knights win baseball regional titles

By: Thomas Franz | Grosse Pointe Times | Published June 11, 2014

 South junior Justin McCann swings at a pitch during South’s regional semifinal game against Detroit Western on June 7. McCann had two RBI in South’s pair of regional games.

South junior Justin McCann swings at a pitch during South’s regional semifinal game against Detroit Western on June 7. McCann had two RBI in South’s pair of regional games.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

GROSSE POINTE FARMS/WOODS — For the first time since 2005, Grosse Pointe South is back in the state quarterfinals.

Thanks to a day of solid pitching from senior Jimmy Menchl, the Blue Devils defeated Detroit Western 10-0 and University of Detroit Jesuit 4-2 to claim a MHSAA Division 1 regional title on June 7.

“He’s just a bulldog, and he had command,” South coach Dan Griesbaum said of Menchl. “It’s one thing to have a game plan, but it doesn’t do any good if the pitcher can’t execute the game plan and put the ball where you need him to put it, and that’s what (Menchl) does.”

The regional title was another chapter in South’s dramatic turnaround this year. South started the season 7-12 but are 18-5 since then, and Griesbaum said that making Menchl a starting pitcher helped turn the course of the season.

“We thought (Menchl) was a reliever, a closer, because he was our starting shortstop, and it got to the last third of the season and we didn’t have a true No. 1, so we started him, and he’s been great ever since. He never had a bad outing. He’s just been doing phenomenal,” Griesbaum said.

For the day, Menchl pitched three scoreless innings against Western, and he took a shutout into the seventh inning against U-D.

Offensively for the Blue Devils, a seven-run third inning against Western broke open a 2-0 game.

South was stymied early on against U-D while going hitless through three innings before scoring two runs each in the fourth and fifth innings.

“We tried to be a little bit more selective, but to be ready for that fastball when it comes in, we just had to be more selective because we were swinging at some bad pitches. It was just, basically, get a good pitch to hit,” Griesbaum said after the U-D game.

Junior James Fishback had three RBI on the day to lead South. Jacob Stone drove in two runs against Western.

“The first run or two runs in a game like this are huge, and that was Stone coming through and Fishback — those are big,” Griesbaum said. “They helped us a little bit, but you need nine people in the order who you can count on, but Fishback has had a good year.”

In addition to finding a top pitcher, having a consistent lineup has been key to South’s run.

“We probably had a situation where, three or four weeks ago, we didn’t know who the top nine were. We were wondering who are the top nine, but lately it’s all come together,” Griesbaum said.

South advanced to take on Sterling Heights Stevenson in a state quarterfinal on June 10, after press time, at Wayne State University.

The winner of that game advances to play Battle Creek Lakeview or Saline in a state semifinal at 2:30 p.m. on June 12 at Michigan State University. The MHSAA Division 1 championship is at 11:30 a.m. on June 14 at MSU.

Liggett advances in Division 3
After University Liggett moved up to Division 3 after winning the Division 4 state title last season, all signs pointed to the Knights facing Bishop Foley for a regional title.

Foley came into this spring as the three-time defending state champions in Division 3.

When the two schools did meet on June 7 at Manchester High School in a regional final, Liggett took a 5-0 lead into the seventh inning and held on to win 5-4.

Matt Gushee earned the win for Liggett by giving up three hits while striking out three batters.

Gehrig Anglin and Anthony Simon led the Liggett offense with two RBI each.

To reach the regional final, Liggett defeated Ann Arbor Greenhills 10-2.

Liggett advanced to play Clinton in a state quarterfinal on June 10 at Chelsea High School. The result of that game was not known at press time, but with a win, Liggett would play Pinconning or Reese in a state semifinal at 5:00 p.m. on June 13 at Michigan State University. The MHSAA Division 3 state final will be played at 5:00 p.m. on June 14 at MSU.