Orchard Lake St. Mary’s dethrones Mount Pleasant in D-2 state title game

Greg Loukinen pitches Eaglets to title

By: Thomas Franz | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published June 23, 2015

 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s won its third MHSAA state championship by defeating Mount Pleasant 4-1 on June 13 at Michigan State University.

Orchard Lake St. Mary’s won its third MHSAA state championship by defeating Mount Pleasant 4-1 on June 13 at Michigan State University.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

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EAST LANSING — He described it as a “picture perfect” ending.


With two outs and the tying run at the plate in the Division 2 state championship game, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s senior pitcher Greg Loukinen delivered a fastball over the outside half of the plate to get his third strikeout of the inning and seal St. Mary’s first state title since 2003.


“There’s really no other way to end it,” Loukinen said. “I had a lot of confidence. I gave up a base hit, then walked the second guy, but I came back. I just knew I had to throw a pitch to strike him out, and that’s what I did.”


St. Mary’s defeated Mount Pleasant 4-1 in the title game on June 13 at Michigan State University. Mount Pleasant was the defending Division 2 state champion.


Loukinen pitched a complete game while giving up five hits and striking out seven.


“I guess you could say it was my moment, but it was the team’s moment,” Loukinen said. “Personally, that’s how I would’ve liked to end it.”


June 13 was already supposed to be an important day for Loukinen, but not for baseball reasons. He was scheduled to take the ACT test that day, but decided that the test could wait.


“I was really debating whether or not to do it because the ACTs are important, but at the end of the day, I wanted to throw my team to the state championship,” Loukinen said. “I wanted to get us a ring.”


Loukinen had to overcome a rocky first inning, as Mount Pleasant went ahead 1-0 thanks to two errors by the Eaglets.


St. Mary’s took advantage of a pair of wild pitches to tie the game in the bottom of the first, and Loukinen would shut down the Oilers from there.


“He battled through some adversity there in the top of the first, and he did a great job of settling down after that inning,” St. Mary’s coach Matt Petry said. “He just did an excellent job, as he’s been doing all year.”


St. Mary’s scored twice in the second inning to take a 3-1 lead. Shortstop Joe Carlini hit a double deep to left to score Griffin Sheposh, and then Carlini scored later in the inning on a single to left by Drake Titus.


Harrison Salter singled in Titus in the fifth inning to give St. Mary’s a 4-1 lead.


The four runs scored by St. Mary’s doubled the amount of runs that Mount Pleasant had given up during its entire postseason run to the final. The Oilers had outscored their postseason opponents 67-2 coming into the title game.


Petry said that St. Mary’s number of close games in the playoffs prepared his team well to face Mount Pleasant.


“On our road to get here, we played some excellent teams in a lot of close games. I think that helped us late in the game because it was a tight game all game, and we had been in that situation,” Petry said. “That was huge for us to have that experience.”


Loukinen is part of a four-person senior class for the Eaglets, who could have as many as 15 players return next year. After not advancing out of districts last year with a senior-laden roster, this team’s run may have surprised some, but Petry and Loukinen realized about halfway through the season that this year may be special.


“This year, regardless of whether or not we were a young team, we saw a lot of focus at practice and early in the season, and I think that really helped,” Loukinen said.  “There were some points where we kind of laughed about it, but once we started winning more games, we really knew we could win states if we worked together.”


“About halfway through the year, we went on a pretty good streak in the Catholic League, and that’s when I realized this team had an opportunity to be special. We have great leadership from our seniors and also from some of our juniors that got us going,” Petry added.


The title was St. Mary’s third MHSAA state championship in school history and first since 2003. The win avenged a loss to Mount Pleasant in the 2007 state final, and the Eaglets were also state finalists in 2009.


“We were all waiting for the moment,” Loukinen said. “We all knew we could do it this year, and it’s something that we really wanted to celebrate, and I’m really glad we did.”

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