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Sterling Heights

May 8, 2013

Stevenson baseball keeping lofty expectations

By Jason Carmel Davis
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
The Stevenson baseball team had a 5-1 record in MAC Red play at press time — good for a first-place tie with Macomb Dakota. Pictured is Titans senior first baseman Mike Knapp during a May 1 game against Clinton Township Chippewa Valley.

STERLING HEIGHTS — The Sterling Heights Stevenson baseball team is off to a quick start, sitting at 12-3, 5-1 in the Macomb Area Conference Red Division at press time. That 5-1 mark puts the Titans in a first-place tie with Macomb Dakota as Stevenson eyes a fourth straight league title.

“Our toughest games are coming up,” Titans coach Joe Emanuele said. “I think our players have been very focused to this point and they have responded well in the first six (MAC Red) games.”

Those tough contests include two games against Dakota, set for 4 p.m. May 13 at Dakota and 4 p.m. May 15 at Stevenson. The Titans beat out Dakota for the MAC Red title by one game last season.

“Our league is very tough,” Emanuele said. “Dakota, (Utica Eisenhower) and (Grosse Pointe South) are all good.”

The Titans are winning with a relatively young, but experienced, lineup. Stevenson starts three sophomores, four juniors and two seniors, according to Emanuele, with many of them having played on last year’s division championship squad.

Emanuele said junior captain Zack McGuire, who plays first base, third base, outfield and pitcher, has been one of the team leaders, along with senior captain Zak Melcher, an outfielder. Emanuele added junior center fielder/pitcher Brandon Hughes and senior catcher Bobby Griffin have taken on leadership roles, as well.

McGuire and Hughes are a part of a pitching unit that Emanuele calls the strength of the Stevenson team. Junior right-hander Joe Wolf led the Titans’ rotation with a 4-0 record at press time.

“Our pitching has been outstanding,” Emanuele said, adding overall team depth is a plus.

“Competition is getting fierce to get playing time.”

Emanuele said his team’s infield defense must improve, if it hopes to four-peat as MAC Red champions and make a deep run in the 2013 Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 1 state playoffs, which begin May 28. He added  that his hitters have to work on their approach hitting with two strikes.

“But our goals always stay the same: win our first game, win the league, a district title, regional title and make it to the state finals,” Emanuele said.

Stevenson next hits the diamond for a MAC Red battle against Grosse Pointe South, set for 4 p.m. May 8 at Stevenson.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Jason Carmel Davis at jdavis@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1107. Twitter Follow Jason on Twitter.