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June 10, 2014

University Liggett baseball defeats Clinton in state quartefinals

Knights score four runs in seventh inning

By Thomas Franz
C & G Sports Writer

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Liggett's Nick Azar waits for a pitch during the Knights' game against Clinton on June 10.

The opponents are different, but University Liggett baseball is back in familiar territory.

For the fourth consecutive season, the Knights are in the MHSAA state semifinals thanks to a 7-3 victory against Clinton in a state quarterfinal game played Tuesday afternoon at Chelsea High School.

Liggett moved up to Division 3 after winning two state championships the last three years in Division 4, and that step up in competition has made this playoff run especifally signigificant for Knights coach Dan Cimini.

"It means everything. You have a lot of naysayers saying,  'they're playing Division 4. They're only doing it because they're in Division 4,'" Cimini said. "We play the toughest schedule around, and it makes us better. Because of that schedule, we're able to bump up here. We're the smallest school in Division 3, and now we're going to the semifinals. I can't be any prouder of my team and this program."

The Knights found themselves down 3-0 early, as Clinton's Reid Clark drove in two runs in the second inning, but they quickly responded.

Junior Nick Azar hit a RBI triple, then Cole Zingas and Anthony Simon each brought in a run with a base hit and sacrifice fly in the third inning.

Freshman Gehrig Anglin and senior Adam Fiema combined to shut down Clinton the rest of the way, while Liggett's offense rose up late in the contest.

In the seventh inning with the game tied at three and the bases loaded, Simon grounded into a fielder's choice that scored Fiema to give Liggett a 4-3 lead. Anglin brought in another run with a sacrifice fly, and after Clinton misplayed a pop up that led to another Ligget run, Patrick Broder finished the uprising with a RBI single to make it 7-3.

Anglin earned a no-decision after departing with the game tied, but Cimini said that his efforts after Liggett fell behind 3-0 were clutch.

"(Anglin) was a bulldog. He's a freshman who's 12-2 on the year," Cimini said. "He's been our ace and our horse. He's done an unbelieveable job for us, and our defense was phenomenal."

Liggett advances to play Reese in a state semifinal on June 13 at 5 p.m. at Michigan State University.

Liggett softball falls to Clinton

Liggett also took on Clinton in a Division 3 softball state quarterfinal Tuesday afternoon at Chelsea High School, but the Knights could not keep pace with Clinton's offense as Liggett fell 12-5.

Clinton jumped out to a 6-1 lead by way of a grand slam from Kris Forest in the second inning.

Liggett fought back in the third to make it 6-4 as Emily Kanakry hit a two-run double, but it was all Clinton from there.

The Redskins scored two runs in each of the next three innings to improve to 34-4.

Liggett closes its year at 25-10. Clinton will play Unionville-Sebewaing in a state semifinal at noon on June 13.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Thomas Franz at tfranz@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1040.