North Farmington baseball team hits its stride with trifecta of playoff wins

Farmington Press | Published June 5, 2013

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With only a few weeks remaining in the regular season, his team seemed to be peaking.

Wins were piling up and confidence was soaring.

And after a victory against West Bloomfield High, a division title was in hand.

“Then we fell back to earth,” North Farmington baseball coach Mike O’Connell said.

His team went through some “very ugly losses,” as he put it — a lopsided one to Lathrup Village Southfield Lathrup and one by mercy to Plymouth Salem.

“I couldn’t help but wonder if we peaked too soon,” O’Connell admitted.

The Raiders calmed all those fears last week, though, winning three straight playoff games to earn the program its first district title since 2002.

“It’s huge. Huge for the kids and huge for this baseball program,” O’Connell said following a 6-3 victory against Novi High in the Farmington High Division 1 district final. “The kids deserved this. They worked so hard to get to this point.”

After beating Farmington 4-2 May 28 in the opener, the Raiders had to come from behind in both games June 1.

They did so with a 4-3 victory against Novi Detroit Catholic Central in the opener, and then fought back from an early deficit to upend the Wildcats in the final.

Freshman pitcher Alex Darden was key for North Farmington.

He entered the district final game in the third inning and went on to pitch five scoreless frames while the Raiders’ offense came to life.

“It was great,” O’Connell said. “This was a great day for the kids.”

Which now sets up the possibility for another one.

North Farmington (29-8) heads to the Novi regional June 8, where it will take on Northville High (21-8) in a 10 a.m. semifinal.

The other half of the bracket includes Birmingham Brother Rice and Walled Lake Northern.

“Our pitching and defense seem to be falling into place at the right time,” O’Connell said when asked about the keys for this weekend’s regional. “We just can’t wait to get it going. When you get to this point in the season, anything can happen. You need some luck and you need some skill. Hopefully, we’ll have a little of both.”

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