Liggett baseball advances to D-1 semifinal with win against Sterling Heights Stevenson

By: Mark Vest | C&G Newspapers | Published June 13, 2017

DETROIT — Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett’s baseball team has advanced to the semifinal round of the state playoffs for the sixth time since 2011, as the Knights beat Sterling Heights Stevenson 6-0 in a quarterfinal June 13 on the campus of Wayne State University.

Liggett (33-4) plays Saline High at 11:30 a.m. June 15 on the campus of Michigan State University.

Liggett jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. After Noah Miller knocked in the first run of the game with a double, senior Teddy Wujek followed that up with a RBI single.

After the Knights took a 3-0 lead in the fourth via an error, they scored the game’s final three runs in the sixth, with Wujek, Jackson Walkowiak and Logan King delivering RBIs.

Sophomore Alec Azar pitched a complete game for Liggett.

Liggett has won four state championships over the last six seasons at the Division 3 and Division 4 levels, respectively.

The program’s move to the D-1 ranks this year doesn’t seem to have intimidated coach Dan Cimini.

“We did exactly what we came here to do,” Cimini said following the game. “We’ve been playing like that all year. Maybe now some people can open their eyes and (see) we’re not a little D4 team or a little D3 team; we’re as good as any program in the state. We’re coming to show it.”

Along with some timely hitting, Cimini credited great pitching and defense for his team’s victory.

After pitching at regionals June 10, Azar was able to come back on short rest and help his team advance to the semifinals.

“I was afraid my arm wasn’t (going to) be ready, but threw strikes, trusted my defense (and) we hit the ball,” Azar said. “Got me comfortable out on the mound. I was allowed to do my thing, throw my off-speed pitches and have a good game.”

Although Stevenson coach Joe Emanuele thought his team put the ball in play well, he knew Liggett is a team that can hold its own defensively.

“They’re a very good team; we knew that,” said Emanuele, who credited Azar for pitching a great game. “They have a great infield. … We picked a bad time to not play well defensively. When you bow out, that’s usually what you’re looking at.”

Stevenson finished 31-10 overall and first in the Macomb Area Conference Red Division with a record of 13-2.

“As a whole, we (won) 31 games, we won the eighth straight league, and we’ve won a regional,” Emanuele said. “Everything else is icing on the cake. … I’m very pleased with the seniors and the way they played this year.”

Michael Marsee, Luke McGuire, Steven Tamburro, Todd Paperd, Alex Karam, Mario Camilletti and Gaige Bodnar were Stevenson’s senior representatives.