Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett’s Jack Jones prepares to deliver to home plate against Traverse City St. Francis in the Division 3 state championship game June 19 in East Lansing. Liggett won 12-0.

Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett’s Jack Jones prepares to deliver to home plate against Traverse City St. Francis in the Division 3 state championship game June 19 in East Lansing. Liggett won 12-0.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Liggett baseball collects state championship

By: Zachary Manning | Grosse Pointe Times | Published July 1, 2021

 Liggett’s Matthew Greene makes a catch against Traverse City St. Francis in the Division 3 state championship game June 19. Liggett finished the season with a 31-5 overall record.

Liggett’s Matthew Greene makes a catch against Traverse City St. Francis in the Division 3 state championship game June 19. Liggett finished the season with a 31-5 overall record.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

GROSSE POINTE WOODS — The Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett baseball program is no stranger to success, having won multiple state championships and having been to several final fours.

Still, that doesn’t make losing any easier, especially in 2019 with a state championship loss to Homer High, and then the following season being canceled due to COVID-19.

However, with a program like the Knights have, there is no time for moping. Coach Dan Cimini admitted they were beaten by a better team that day in 2019.

For him, it was time to turn the page and forge a new path with the 2021 group. As it had so many times before, Liggett advanced to the Division 3 state championship game.

This year, Traverse City St. Francis was waiting. Though the Knights fielded a young group, they played much like veterans, dominating St. Francis with a 12-0 victory in five innings.

“Our kids did a really, really good job of buying into the system and staying focused and taking it game by game, pitch by pitch,” Cimini said. “It was just a magical run, and I was so happy to see those kids go through that.”

Perhaps the craziest part of Liggett’s redemption season is the fact that the team was so young. The roster featured just six seniors, only two of whom started the state championship game.

Of those youngsters, sophomore Jack Jones got the nod on the bump for the final game, tossing five scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and striking out six.

At the plate, freshman Reginald Sharpe picked up two hits, scored two runs and drove in three, while fellow freshman Preston Barr collected three hits and scored two runs.

In the sophomore class, Jarren Purify picked up two hits from the leadoff spot, while driving in a run and also crossing the plate once.

Though the young guns played a key role, it was still a senior who stole the show, as Matthew Greene tallied two hits and five RBI in the contest.

Cimini noted that he wasn’t shocked by the success of his team but instead was impressed by their selflessness and willingness to play for the betterment of the team.

“These guys did a wonderful job of buying in and doing what they had to do for the team,” Cimini said. “Whether it was sacrificing a guy over or squeezing a guy in or hitting a sac fly or doing whatever they could to score runs, they did that in that championship game. I was very, very proud of them.”

Though his young group won the state title, the Knights are not resting on their laurels. Cimini notes there is still improvement to be had with any team he has.

Next year, the focus will be to get bigger, stronger and faster. Expectation wise, the goal is still to compete for the Catholic League title before turning their focus to another state title.

Cimini also lets his mind wander to potentially moving up a division or two to challenge his players, but no decision has been made on that just yet. The Knights moved into Division 1 a few years ago, making a semifinal appearance in 2017.

“Our goals will never change,” Cimini said. “Obviously, we turn the page. We never look back. We’re only as good as our last game, and our last game we ended up winning, which most teams don’t. We’re going to enjoy it and hopefully try to come back and do the same thing next year.”