Fraser High baseball repeats as MAC Gold champs

By: David Wallace | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published May 27, 2016

 Fraser High’s Matt Nahtygal eyes a pitch during a contest earlier this season. With two consecutive Macomb Area Conference Gold Division titles already in the books, things could continue to be on the upswing for Fraser, as head coach Dave Kuppe said,  “I think our future looks pretty good.”

Fraser High’s Matt Nahtygal eyes a pitch during a contest earlier this season. With two consecutive Macomb Area Conference Gold Division titles already in the books, things could continue to be on the upswing for Fraser, as head coach Dave Kuppe said, “I think our future looks pretty good.”

Photo by Erin Sanchez

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FRASER — Fraser High baseball coach Dave Kuppe is not afraid to admit that he thought “it would be very difficult to get even a piece of the league championship this year.”

Due to Fraser’s inexperience and the players other teams in the Macomb Area Conference Gold Division were bringing back, Kuppe said he was hoping his team would finish second or third in the division.

Instead, due in large part to a seven-game winning streak in division play, Fraser won its second consecutive MAC Gold title, splitting the championship with Warren Woods Tower, with each program going 10-5 in division play.

The road to Fraser’s title may have been paved by a group of guys who desperately wanted to go after that division championship.

“Especially when we got on a roll,” Kuppe said. “That was our motivation. That’s why they came to practice. That’s why they worked so hard. They wanted it; they wanted it bad. I’m happy they got part of it. They really accomplished a great deal.”

The Ramblers’ accomplishment came despite a rough patch during the course of the season. At one point, Fraser lost four out of five games to divisional opponents, and a league championship wasn’t exactly looking promising. 

But instead of packing it in, the team followed that tough stretch of games with its lengthy winning streak. Kuppe discussed the keys to the program’s turnaround. 

“Really, I think the whole thing was defense,” he said. “We moved some people around position-wise. … Our pitchers were throwing strikes. We don’t strike out many batters, but I thought we fielded the ball extremely well, and as a result of that, that kept us in the game, gave us an opportunity to score as many runs as we needed, because our defense was always pretty solid.”

Although Kuppe said his players were disappointed not to win the title outright, given how competitive the division is, he takes satisfaction in the program’s achievement.

“Everybody is real close. I know in some of the other divisions some of their teams at the top, they’re just dominant, and then teams at the bottom … have a difficult time competing,” he said. “But in our league, anybody can beat anybody at any time, so I’m very pleased with being able to pull this out this year.”

Kuppe has already informed the school’s athletic director that he would like to have T-shirts ordered to commemorate the program’s back-to-back league championships. 

With a lot of players expected to return next year, as well as a JV team he said was very successful this season, he is hoping to make it three in a row in 2017.

“We always talk about the previous team, the previous players, what they accomplished, and what we hope to do in the future,” Kuppe said. “I think our future looks pretty good. I’m hoping to continue to build on this. At this point, (we) still got a ways to go to get to a level where we can start competing at a state level and a competitive level, and that’s what we’re hoping to get to.”

Four of the seniors representing Fraser are Michael Bentley, Andrew Reske, Justin Logan and Nick Guerrero, all of whom Kuppe said have “done a very, very good job.”

Fraser played Sterling Heights High in a Division 1 district opener May 31 after press time. The winner plays Warren Cousino at 1:30 p.m. June 3 in a semifinal contest at Cousino.

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