Clawson High senior TJ Verner attempts to throw out a runner from behind the plate May 15 in a game against Macomb Lutheran North at home. The Trojans split the doubleheader losing 12-2 and winning  the second game 3-2.

Clawson High senior TJ Verner attempts to throw out a runner from behind the plate May 15 in a game against Macomb Lutheran North at home. The Trojans split the doubleheader losing 12-2 and winning the second game 3-2.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Clawson High baseball winning with depth

By: Jacob Herbert | Royal Oak Review | Published May 21, 2019

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CLAWSON — Last season, Clawson High baseball finished 10-17. 

The Trojans also finished in third place in the Macomb Area Conference Silver Division at 7-5 in coach Eric Essler’s first year as the skipper.

Now in 2019, the Trojans have won their first MAC Silver title since 2013. At press time, Essler’s team was 20-7 overall and 10-1 in the league.

The success is due in part to the cohesive leadership from the team’s 11 seniors.

“We don’t quit if we get off to slow starts. We have big innings; we have rallies. We play the complete game,” Essler said.

The senior group has become familiar with what it takes to be successful, and gaining that valuable knowledge is another monumental reason behind what they’ve been able to do this season.

“The big thing is we’ve been together for a long time,” senior captain TJ Verner said. “We’ve been here for four years … so we know what it’s like. The familiarity has been a big reason for our success.”

On the field, Essler said, there is no real weak spot with his team. The pitching has been dominant all season. Bryce Blaesing has already matched his strikeout total from last season with fewer innings pitched. The senior ace has 48 strikeouts and a 4-0 record. The Trojans have committed few errors in the field, and shortstop Grant Niezguski highlights the team’s hitting with a .589 batting average.

Not only is Clawson solid at every position, but it also has the versatility to switch players in different positions and be just as good. Essler said he’s confident in his team’s ability to win no matter who he has in the field.  

The confidence to make a run in districts is high for Clawson. Verner admitted that part of the reason for that is the Trojans’ draw in the Division 2 tournament. 

Last year, it was an 8-1 loss to Orchard Lake St. Mary’s that sent Clawson home. Even if it won that game, Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day would have been waiting in the final. 

Neither the Eaglets nor the Yellowjackets are in the Trojans’ district this year. Instead, Clawson will face Macomb Lutheran North in the semifinal, a team it has split its two meetings with this season. On the other side of the bracket is MAC Gold champion Madison Heights Lamphere or Center Line High, which is winless in the Silver Division.

“We didn’t end it the way we wanted to last year, and we’re really looking for that to be different,” Essler said. “You can see the level of focus start to look toward that. I think we have a really good opportunity to go far in the districts. We’re an extremely good team and when we’re playing our A-game, we’re very competitive.”

For Verner, playing their A-game is on the top of the to-do list for when the playoffs roll around. 

“It’s baseball and you can have off games,” he said. “The biggest thing for us is to make sure that district game is not an off game.”

The Trojans open the playoffs at 12:30 p.m. June 1 at Lamphere. 

Call Sports Writer Jacob Herbert at (586) 498-1062. Follow Sports on Twitter @CandGSports.

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