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Eisenhower baseball gearing up for postseason gauntlet

By: Jacob Herbert | Shelby - Utica News | Published May 20, 2019

 Utica Eisenhower’s Trevor Rankin makes contact with the ball May 16 against Grosse Pointe South on the road. The Eagles beat the Blue Devils 3-2.

Utica Eisenhower’s Trevor Rankin makes contact with the ball May 16 against Grosse Pointe South on the road. The Eagles beat the Blue Devils 3-2.

Photo by Sean Work

SHELBY TOWNSHIP — Utica Eisenhower baseball will play its first playoff game May 28 against a team that has been to the Division 1 state quarterfinals two of the past three years.

The Eagles will face Rochester High at Rochester in a pre-district game, with first pitch scheduled for 4:30 p.m.

The Eagles did beat Rochester 2-1 in a district final last season, and they’re confident they can do it again.

“We expect to win it,” senior first baseman Nick Hartley said. “We went out there last year and won districts, so we expect nothing less this year.”

Hartley said the team’s confidence is high, and it’s important to keep it there as the Eagles head into the playoffs. The team can’t afford to lose confidence, given who is in the district draw.

If the Eagles are able to get past the Falcons in that pre-district game, they’ll face Romeo High, the best team in the Macomb Area Conference Red Division. The Bulldogs have clinched the MAC Red title.

The road to back-to-back district championships for Ike is fueled by defensive positioning and pitching.

With featured senior arms like Ray Vizzaccaro, Kyle Nash and Garrett Pfeiffer, the Eagles have a 1.17 team ERA. Coach Steven Spisak said the pitching has kept his team in every game and has kept Ike competitive.

At press time, the Eagles were 21-9 overall and 8-7 in the MAC Red. The Eagles are right where Spisak expected them to be.

Both seniors and juniors alike have stepped up this season, with no one player or position group standing out above the rest. It’s been a total team effort. Spisak said it’s a great feeling knowing any of the players can lead on any given day.

“The seniors have been awesome all year,” Spisak said. “The juniors have really stepped into their roles too. But this senior group is about as good as you could ask for, and I think that’s what has made it such an enjoyable season.”

With less than a week left in the regular season, the Eagles are working on getting their hitting going prior to the matchup with Rochester. If the Eagles find a way to consistently hit the ball, Spisak believes they can hang with any team in the state. Hitting is the last piece to the puzzle, with pitching and fielding already intact.

Spisak said this has already been a great year, and now it’s just about extending the season for as long as possible.

“The group has just been so much fun to coach,” Spisak said. “It’s a really enjoyable group, and we’re having a great time. Now, hopefully the weather’s turning and we can go on a three-week run of playing phenomenal baseball.”