Bay City Western baseball downs Grosse Pointe South for second straight state title
Published June 14, 2014
EAST LANSING — The Bay City Western baseball team hadn't appeared in a state title game until spring 2013.
After a 6-2 win over Grosse Pointe South June 14 at Michigan State University, the Warriors are two for two in championship-game appearances.
The win over South made Western the first Division 1 team to win back-to-back state titles and comes after the Warriors lost seven starters to graduation.
"We were expected to win a state title last year," Western senior first baseman Justin Gorr said. "This year, nobody thought we could do it. To do this with a team full of sophomores is amazing. This is a whole new team with a whole new look."
Bay City Western (38-8) started things off with a bang, plating three runs in the top half of the first inning. The inning was punctuated by a two-RBI double by Gorr. South senior starting pitcher Jimmy Menchl threw 20 pitches in the frame. Menchl finished the day allowing six runs on 11 hits in four innings of work. The senior struck out one and threw 64 pitches.
"The first inning set the tone," Blue Devils coach Dan Griesbaum said. " You can't take anything from Bay City Western. They're, obviously, a talented, well-coached team, and they were better than we were today."
Western added a run in the second when a two-out RBI double by senior shortstop Seth Freed scored Warriors sophomore starting pitcher Jason Clark from third base. Western scored on a sacrifice fly from Freed to make it 5-0 in the fourth. A South error in the top of the fifth allowed Western's Zach Schiermer to score from third to make it 6-0.
Clark was strong on the mound for Western. In a complete-game win, the sophomore allowed two runs on three hits, and struck out five on 78 pitches.
"If I have a bad inning, I speed up the game and it helps me out," said Clark, one of four sophomore starters for Western. "And pitching with a lead is a great help. For us to be the first program to win back-to-back in Division 1 is amazing."
South (27-18) looked to start a rally in the bottom of the fifth, as senior right fielder James Fishback and junior left fielder Jake Stone drove in runs to cut the Western lead to 6-2. South tallied three hits in the frame — representing their first baserunners of the game.
South was looking for its second state championship after winning it all in 2001. The Blue Devils started the season 1-5 and were 7-12 at one point before finishing 2014 on a 20-6 tear.
"We don't have any reason to hang our heads, none at all," Griesbaum said. "Any time you're one of the final two teams, that's a tremendous accomplishment, especially considering where we were early on."