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May 1, 2013

Berkley High and Athens baseball set to meet three times in six days

By Mike Moore
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
Berkley’s Shayne Dooley rips a single during an April 27 game at Southfield-Lathrup. Berkley is set to take on Troy Athens three times in six days, beginning May 1.

TROY — As coaches and teams piece their rain-soaked schedules back together, the final month or so of the baseball season is likely to see some out-of-the-ordinary happenings.

Such is the case for Berkley High and Troy Athens, which will face one another in Oakland Activities Association Blue Division action three times in less than a week’s span.

“League games are always important, but when you start jamming them all together, it puts even more of a premium on them,” Berkley coach Jordan Gruppen said last week.

“It’s a different beast right now, with teams practicing so much in the gym and then being outside so little,” Athens coach Mike Morris said.

The teams meet at 4:30 p.m. May 1 at Berkley for a single game, and then reconvene at 4:30 p.m. May 6 at Athens for a doubleheader.

Following an April 23 cancelation, Berkley had played just three games at press time, and sat 2-1 overall and 1-1 in the Blue.

Athens was 2-3 and 1-1 in the Blue.

“The season is just now starting, it feels,” Morris added.

With so many games jammed together, coaches are forced to stretch their pitching rotation more than usual. Many believe the eventual division champ will have more blemishes on its record than in years past.

“This is going to be one of those times where a team with five losses could win a league title,” Morris said.

Beverly Hills Groves won the OAA White last year with an 11-4 record, while Red champ Lake Orion was 13-2, Avondale won the Blue at 12-3, and Berkley won the Gold at 12-0.

“Trying to win these condensed games, especially against the same team, is huge,” Morris added.

In a crossover meeting last spring, Athens got the best of Berkley, sweeping a doubleheader.

With so few games played, Gruppen said he wasn’t sure exactly what to expect from Athens.

“They scored some runs on us last year, and I think they’re doing the same this year, so far,” he said. “The key for us is pretty simple. We have to pitch and play solid defense.

“We’re putting the ball in play pretty well, lately. So I think we can hit. If we throw strikes and play defense at a high efficiency, we’ll be all right.”

Asked what he expects in the three-game event, Morris just laughed.­

“It’s hard to say. We’ve been on our field three times and had one practice outside as a group,” he said. “We have five sophomores starting. So, we’re talented but inexperienced. We’ll see how it all plays out.”

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mike Moore at mmoore@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1038. Twitter Follow Mike on Twitter.