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June 17, 2014

Freshman Gehrig Anglin pitches Liggett to Division 3 state championship

By Thomas Franz
C & G Sports Writer

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University Liggett freshman Gehrig Anglin delivers a pitch during the MHSAA Division 3 state championship game against Decatur.

GROSSE POINTE WOODS — New division, no problem.

University Liggett, a team filled with state championship experience, turned to freshman Gehrig Anglin to pitch for a state title, and he delivered just like he has done all season for the Knights.

Anglin pitched a complete-game, two-hit shutout to defeat Decatur 9-0 in the MHSAA Division 3 state championship game on June 14 at Michigan State University.

“I felt very confident out there,” the 14-year old Anglin said. “I wasn’t really nervous that much. I was (nervous) before the game getting ready, but once I stepped out there, I was fine.”

Anglin has been Liggett’s top pitcher all season. He came into the state final with an 11-2 record and 1.16 ERA.

“(Anglin) has been our ace all year, and we knew he was going to pitch this game all year,” Liggett coach Dan Cimini said. “He’s a 14-year-old, but he pitches like a junior or senior. He’s done a great job.”

Anglin allowed just two baserunners after the second inning, in which he loaded the bases with three walks. A brief conference between Cimini and his freshman helped motivate Anglin to get out of the jam.

“I walked out to the mound and told him, ‘Hey, listen. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. If you don’t get this kid out, I’m taking you out.’ The lightbulb went on, and he started pounding the strike zone,” Cimini said.

As unique as having a freshman pitcher lead a team to a state title is, the way in which Liggett scored nine runs may have equaled Anglin’s day.

The Knights scored nine runs off of three hits while taking advantage of five hit batters, seven walks and four errors by the Decatur defense.

“We’ll take it all day long,” Cimini said. “There’s nerves that go into this game. I think maybe they were a little bit nervous and made a couple of mistakes, and we capitalized on them.”

An eventful seven-run fifth inning gave Liggett a commanding 9-0 lead.

Earning RBI in the inning were Matt Gushee by way of a walk, Ian Clark on a squeeze and Anthony Simon by way of a base hit.

Liggett scored four other runs in the inning while taking advantage of three errors, three walks and one hit batter.  

Liggett’s victory gives the Knights three state championships in four years. Previously, Liggett won Division 4 titles in 2011 and 2013, and the Knights were able to avenge a loss to Decatur in the 2012 final.

To get to the final, Liggett cleared a major hurdle in the regional final against three-time defending state champion Bishop Foley.

“I think once we got past (Foley) — and we believed that we were going to beat them — but once we got past them, I think these kids had their eyes on the prize, and no one was going to stop us,” Cimini said.

“Everyone believed that, including myself, and here we are, being in the finals four years in row. I’m so proud of what these kids accomplished, and I’m so proud of our program.”

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