Ravens guaranteed a share of division title, now set to take it alone

By: Mike Moore | Royal Oak Review | Published May 19, 2015

 Royal Oak High’s Nick Cassidy fires a pitch home against Lathrup last week. The Ravens can claim the Gold Division title with a win against Ferndale High on May 20.

Royal Oak High’s Nick Cassidy fires a pitch home against Lathrup last week. The Ravens can claim the Gold Division title with a win against Ferndale High on May 20.

Photo by Sarah Purlee

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ROYAL OAK — In a game that would play such a major role in the division standings, and subsequently reshape the Royal Oak High baseball program over the past eight-or-so years, Greg Porter watched as his guys went out and dismantled Southfield-Lathrup 11-1.

The victory came May 15, less than 24 hours after the Ravens were on the wrong side of an 8-2 loss to the same opponent.

A bounce-back win for a program on the rebound, and now, one with a shot to claim an outright division title in the Oakland Activities Association for the first time since 2007.

“The kids are really enjoying this,” Porter said a day after the Lathrup victory. The game guaranteed Royal Oak at least a share of the Gold Division title. “The parents, the families, it really feels good to be around this program. To see this and experience this success is something pretty special.”

Prior to a May 18 game against Troy High, played after press time, the Ravens were 17-7 overall and 12-1 in Gold play.

Lathrup was 13-2, and done with division games.

So, Royal Oak still has a shot to clinch the title outright, and can do so with a victory at Ferndale High at 4:30 p.m. May 20.

The Ravens have beaten Ferndale twice already this season.

Their final scheduled division game against Oak Park may not be played due to Oak Park forfeiting.

“We’re going to approach it like a playoff game,” Porter said of the Ferndale meeting. “It’s the one thing left to accomplish in the league. It’s a championship game for us. We have to go out and do what we’ve done to get to this point.”

The division drought for Royal Oak, more or less, summed up some of the inconsistency the program had been battling for a while.

“But when I took over in 2013, one of the things our staff wanted to do was develop starting pitching,” Porter explained. “That was the main focus. I think this season shows how we are starting to see some of that pay off. Our pitching depth has developed to when we’re playing the same team three times in a week, we have the arms everyday to go out and compete.”

As for having the chance to earn an outright division title?

“It’s really the result of a lot of little things that have added up,” Porter said. “To think where we are now, I see it as quality pitching, throwing strikes, the defense making the routine play over and over again, batters taking good at bats every time up. It’s the way they come to practice every day and prepare for this.”

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