Macomb Dakota junior pitcher John Sovey delivers during a Division 1 regional semifinal against Fraser High June 9. Sovey tossed a complete game, shutting out Fraser along with eight strikeouts in a 5-0 victory.

Macomb Dakota junior pitcher John Sovey delivers during a Division 1 regional semifinal against Fraser High June 9. Sovey tossed a complete game, shutting out Fraser along with eight strikeouts in a 5-0 victory.

Photo by Sarah Purlee


Dakota baseball tops De La Salle for regional title

By: Timothy Pontzer | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published June 13, 2018

EDITOR’S NOTE: Macomb Dakota went on to play Grosse Pointe South in a state quarterfinal, after press time. Visit candgnews.com/sports for updates.


MACOMB — An old adage in baseball states that when you put the ball in play, good things can happen.

Layne Malczewski proved it, helping to deliver only the second Division 1 regional title in program history for Macomb Dakota via a 2-1 victory Warren De La Salle June 9.

With his team down 1-0 in the sixth inning, Malczewski stepped into the box with two outs and the bases loaded. Facing a 1-1 count, the third-year varsity catcher swung, barely making contact and pushing the ball into the infield.

“I honestly can’t say much about it except, as soon as I hit the ball, I looked at first and tried to run as hard as I could to be safe,” Malczewski said. “When I turned around, everyone was screaming, and I saw our kid running home and be safe. It was one of the craziest moments of my life.”

A standout wrestler who earned a scholarship to Michigan State and earned an individual state title earlier this year, Malczewski considered the single to be one of his top career athletic achievements, although it came with a caveat.

“For sure it’s one of the best baseball moments I’ve ever had,” Malczewski said. “But it’s probably the weakest base hit I’ve ever had.”

While Dakota hosted its regional, it played as the away side in the final, allowing the Pilots a chance in the bottom of the sixth and seventh innings. Senior Alek Ljuljdjrovic closed out the contest, finishing a performance that saw him deliver a complete seven innings, while striking out four with three hits.

“Our pitching was the key as it has been all season,” Dakota coach Matt Carley said. “Alek Ljuljdrovic and John Sovey were awesome again. Layne, our catcher, was fantastic and defensively Eero Perkola was great in the infield.”

Earlier in the day, Dakota downed Fraser High 5-0 as Sovey tossed seven shutout innings with eight strikeouts. Carley was thrilled to see the Cougars earn the first regional trophy since 2007 and second overall for the program.

“Probably the biggest thing right now is that our kids have a ton of confidence,” Carley said. “The program has been consistent, and it’s great to have all the efforts of the players and coaches pay off. We have great parents that have been very supportive. This is a big win but we want more, so you try to enjoy and move forward next game.”

“It’s such a great feeling,” Malczewski said. “It’s good for the future of Dakota so they have confidence in the future for playoffs and in big-game situations. We just had the determination to never give up. We were down the whole game and continued to fight and claw our way back.”

On a roster with 10 seniors and seven juniors, Carley believed the smarts of his roster are the biggest strength and proves to be vital in the postseason. Every member of the team made the Macomb Area Conference Red All-Academic team, posting above a 3.0 GPA.

“It’s a blast to hang out with this group,” Carley said. “They’re great kids and very good students. There’s not a bad person in the group. They have very high character.”