St. Mary’s, University-Liggett win pitchers’ duels, claim Catholic League baseball titles
May 24, 2019
DETROIT — Should the Detroit Tigers need some more fresh, young arms, maybe they should send their scouts to Catholic High School League contests — especially when they’re played at Comerica Park.
Friday’s A-B and C-D Division championship games featured outstanding pitching and low scores. Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Prep needed 10 innings to defeat Novi Detroit Catholic Central, 2-1, in the A-B game, while Grosse Pointe Woods University-Liggett earned its first Catholic League title with a 2-0 decision over Riverview Gabriel Richard in C-D play.
St. Mary’s claimed its first title in the A-B Division — and first overall since 1996 — by stringing together singles by Cole Sibley, Ryan DuSang, Dillon Kark and Alex Mooney in the 10th frame. Mooney’s solid hit into right field scored Sibley from third, touching off a wild celebration among Eaglet players.
It was the first walk-off game-winning hit for Mooney, a sophomore infielder.
“I was just trying to get a pitch that I could hit, and he gave it to me, and I hit it hard,” he said. “He threw me a curveball down and I saw it, and I just hit it through the left side of the infield.”
Prior to the rally, it had been announced that there was a time-limit on the Comerica Park field, and if there wasn’t a winner produced after 10 innings, the game would be suspended and resumed at another point in time.
“I don’t think anybody wants to go finish a one-inning game, so we just wanted to get out of here with the win, and we did,” Mooney said. “I just wanted to do it for my team; help them get the ‘W,’ and that’s what happened.”
“For sure, we said we don’t want to go down(town) and tie,” added Kark, who was the winning pitcher in relief. “There’s no fun in splitting, so we just said, ‘Do anything you can to get on base, and we’ll win this game.’”
The Eaglets and Shamrocks went to extra innings knotted at 1. St. Mary’s scored first in the third inning when catcher Harrison Poeszat rapped a triple over the outfielder’s head, and came home on a throwing error. That was one of just two hits surrendered by Shamrock starter Tyler Harris.
St. Mary’s Logan Wood was just as effective, allowing two hits in 8 1/3 innings. Catholic Central evened the score in the fourth without the benefit of a hit, as Jake Zeeb reached first on a throwing error, and advanced around on a hit batter, a walk and a sacrifice fly.
“It was kind of slow; no one could really get hits. Our pitcher threw well and their pitcher threw well,” Mooney said.
UNIVERSITY-LIGGETT 2, GABRIEL RICHARD 0
In his prep career, University-Liggett senior Alec Azar has played in showcase games, state championship finals, and yes, even at Comerica Park before.
That’s probably why nothing seemed to faze him Friday. Azar allowed just three hits in a 2-0 victory over defending state champion Riverview Gabriel Richard.
“It was a lot of fun,” the senior said. “I have a lot of respect for the team that we played, and I just tried to come out and have my best stuff. Fortunately I did, and we came out with the win.”
It wasn’t just the pitch assortment for Azar. He also helped his own cause at the plate, singling home Billy Kopicki with the insurance run in the top of the seventh, and he shut down Gabriel Richard’s only rally in the prior inning with a pickoff move to Kopicki at second base, catching the Pioneer base-runner off-guard.
“It gets a little nerve-wracking at points,” Azar admitted. “I know in the sixth I started to lose control a little bit and they had a few runners on, and I just needed to take a step off (the mound) and calm myself down, talk to myself, throw strikes and trust the defense behind me. I think the pickoff we had at second base to my shortstop Billy Kopicki was a really big part of the game; it gave us some momentum and we got the bats going a little bit.”
Liggett had three singles in the seventh inning, but before that, Gabriel Richard pitcher Cole Atkinson had an effective outing, allowing five hits. Logan King doubled home Kellen Banaszewski with the Knights’ first run in the third inning.
Both schools are expected to be among the top teams in the state in Division 3. This was already the fifth time the schools have faced each other this spring.
“We knew their batters pretty well, and it took a little shift here and there, but nothing special — we just went out there and played our best, and good things happened there,” Azar said.