Lakers claim first baseball division title since spring of 1998

By: Mike Moore | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published May 20, 2015


WEST BLOOMFIELD — Always a bridesmaid.

It’s an analogy that Eric Pierce could only laugh at last week, mainly because, “well, it’s been true,” the West Bloomfield High baseball coach said.

It used to be true, anyway.

For the first time since 1998, the Lakers ended the regular season without looking up in the final standings. For the first time in 17 springs, West Bloomfield was the main attraction in Oakland Activities Association division play.

“There’s been a lot of good teams here, but we always seemed to finish a game or two out,” Pierce said. “For some reason, it was always that one game we dropped that cost us.”

A year ago, the Lakers were 10-5 and one game behind North Farmington. In 2013, a 9-4 finish was one game shy of the Raiders again.

But this year was different, a different team and a different ability to close games out that needed to be closed out.

The end result was an 11-4 finish in the OAA White and a comfortable two games in front of North Farmington.

“It’s extremely important to do this. We had a senior class that bought into everything we had to do here,” Pierce said. “We had a nice playoff run last year, and they came into the season with the main goal of winning the league. It’s pretty special.”

“It was huge,” said senior center fielder and three-year varsity vet Robbie Jones. “I don’t know if the history of how many years it had been matters, but to be so close the past few years and not get it was tough. It was so frustrating. It was like every year we had that opportunity, and then for some reason didn’t find a way.”

Confidence certainly played a role in what this group was able to do, and Pierce said last year’s run had something to do with that.

The Lakers opened the 2014 playoffs with an upset of Brother Rice, and then rolled all the way to a spot in a Division 1 regional final.

“This year, we had guys with that experience of playing in big games,” Pierce added. “They didn’t shy away from the big moment. They knew what it was all about.”

“We were more focused on every individual game,” Jones said. “We used to lose a game here or there that we should have won. This year, we won those games.”

Pierce is in his fifth year as head coach after serving as an assistant since 2002.

He admitted he was surprised that it had been so long since the last division title.

“I had people ask if that year was really the last time,” he said. “But the monkey is off our back now.”

West Bloomfield began the 2015 district round May 26, after press time.