Grosse Pointe North baseball finding early success under new coach

By: Zachary Manning | Grosse Pointe Times | Published April 2, 2019

 Grosse Pointe North senior catcher Dominic VanDoorne goes to throw the ball in a game against Warren Cousino March 28.

Grosse Pointe North senior catcher Dominic VanDoorne goes to throw the ball in a game against Warren Cousino March 28.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

GROSSE POINTES –– The Grosse Pointe North baseball program is entering a new era on the diamond.

Longtime coach Frank Sumbera is no longer managing in the Norsemen dugout. Sumbera finished with the program with 1,097 wins, which ranks third all-time in Michigan High School Athletic Association history.  

The man taking over for him? David Martin. He’s a baseball professional who has coached in the Frontier League and at Henry Ford Community College, Eastern Michigan University, University of Miami (Florida) and Bowling Green State University.

“I always thought about coaching high school, but it had to be the right situation,” Martin said. “Facilities are important to me. I wanted to find something that certainly had the right pedigree of kids that were coming up. I know baseball here in Grosse Pointe has certainly done really well in the past, and I knew there was a bunch of great kids in the area coming up.”

Martin took over a team that has state championship aspirations. At press time, the Norsemen were 2-0 overall.

The squad features 12 seniors, four juniors and three sophomores. For Martin, two seniors have stood out early in the season for their play on the field and for their leadership qualities.

Catcher Dominic VanDoorne and center fielder Ryan Shanley have embraced their leadership roles and want to continue helping the team in any way possible.

“I see the team for what it is. We have a chance to win the state championship this year, and we can’t waste it. We really do have the talent this year. There’s no weak links on this team, and I just do everything I can to just make sure everybody performs well and make sure I perform well and just put everybody in a good position to win,” VanDoorne said.

With the goal of winning a state championship, a big emphasis has been on defense. Martin is a firm believer in defense being key to winning games.

He knows that if you can keep teams off the scoreboard, you have a good shot at winning games. The Norsemen have done a solid job of that so far this year, allowing just two runs.

It also helps that the Norsemen have been swinging the bats well. North has scored 19 runs.

North is focusing on one game at a time. But looking ahead, North and defending Division 1 champion Grosse Pointe South will be in the same district.

North was eliminated by South last season, and the Norsemen are motivated to not let that happen again this year.

“That would be awesome. That’s the goal,” Shanley said of winning a state title. “It would be a memory you’d always remember, so hopefully we can get the job done, and hopefully we can get there in June.”

Catch the Norsemen on the diamond at noon April 6 at Rochester Adams.