Members of the Birmingham Groves baseball team cheer from the dugout  April 9 in a home game against Royal Oak High. The Falcons beat the Ravens 13-3 to improve to 2-0 overall at press time.

Members of the Birmingham Groves baseball team cheer from the dugout April 9 in a home game against Royal Oak High. The Falcons beat the Ravens 13-3 to improve to 2-0 overall at press time.

Photo by Donna Dalziel


Groves baseball relying on team chemistry

By: Jacob Herbert | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published April 15, 2019

BIRMINGHAM — It’s not quite 162 games like in Major League Baseball, but Birmingham Groves baseball coach Shawn Morrison knows his team is in for a long season.

The Falcons were two games into a 38-game season and were 2-0 overall at press time. They hadn’t played a game yet in the Oakland Activities Association White Division.

With many of the games coming in doubleheaders, Morrison expects his players to be able to pick each other up during the dog days of spring.

“In baseball, you’ve got a lot of games,” Morrison said. “We schedule games with some pretty good competition. When you’ve got a lot of games, you have to maintain energy, because it’s very easy to lag in this game unless you bring the energy every day.”

The Falcons have a group of seniors who Morrison expects to be the pillars of leadership for everyone else on the team.

Harrison Cole is a player who has been with Groves since a district call-up his freshman year. Cole is a versatile fielder and can excel in any position he’s placed in. Last season, he had a .396 on-base percentage.

From an offensive standpoint, the Falcons will look to Roger Motley for production. The senior had a .423 on-base percentage last year and had the second-best slugging percentage on the team at .540. Ari Sherman also returns as the leader in innings pitched from last season.

“It’s a smaller class relative to what we’ve had recently,” Morrison said about his seniors. “We have a lot of guys that have stepped up and fulfilled some leadership roles. They’re going to do well for us. Obviously, any senior class is an important component to lean on. They’ve definitely represented our school well.”

Ethan Gilman and Aerik Joe are two returning juniors who Morrison said will be key players ensuring the Falcons’ success this season. Joe is committed to play baseball at Air Force after high school.

Gilman batted .250 last season and recorded four RBIs in 23 games played. Joe hit .277, driving in 15 runs in 35 games played.

As far as fresh faces, Morrison has had to call up a few juniors to fill the void of last year’s graduating players.

Catcher John Pierce should see a lot of time behind the plate this season. Morrison said Sam Shienbaum, a third baseman, and Caleb McKeever, who doubles as a pitcher and center fielder, are two of the team’s top hitters.

Rounding out the group is James Berry at second base, who the coach called one of his hardest workers.

Morrison believes the Falcons will also succeed on the base paths. Groves returns its top four base stealers from last season. Morrison also thinks the team will be able to throw pitchers off with its ability to hit from both sides of the plate.

As for deficiencies, he said it’s too early to tell, but baseball IQ is something the team can always be working on.

If all of those strengths pan out like Morrison hopes, the Falcons will accomplish their goals. The long-term goals are winning league titles, district titles, regional titles and state titles. But in order to get there, things need to be accomplished along the way.

“The biggest thing for us is to have very formative goals. So to say you want to be a league or state champion is all fine and dandy, but when it’s all said and done, you have to have goals in place in order to achieve those things,” Morrison said.

Posted in the Falcons dugout during every game is a list of statistical goals, which the team calls “process-based team goals.” The Falcons want to have a certain fielding percentage, a certain first-pitch strike percentage and a certain on-base percentage amidst many other goals. Taking it one step at a time, the Falcons know what they need to do in order to be playing long into the postseason.