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June 10, 2014

Grosse Pointe South baseball upsets Sterling Heights Stevenson in state quarterfinals

Blue Devils allow only 3 hits in win; semifinal game time changed my MHSAA

By Jason Carmel Davis
C & G Sports Writer

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The Grosse Pointe South baseball team advanced to the state semifinals with a 2-0 win over Sterling Heights Stevenson June 10 at Wayne State University. South players are pictured during a 2014 regional June 7.

DETROIT — Following a  Division 1 baseball state quarterfinal, Grosse Pointe South senior pitcher Jimmy Menchl and Blue Devils coach Dan Griesbaum both called their oppoent — Sterling Heights Stevenson — the better team.

"They just weren't better today," Griesbaum said.

South downed Stevenson 2-0 to advance to the D-1 state semifinals and will play Battle Creek Lakeview at 11:30 a.m. June 12 at Michigan State University. The game time was changed by the MHSAA to accomidate South's graduating seniors.

The win gives the Blue Devils (26-17) their first appearance in the state semis since 2005. 

Menchl was strong on the mound for South, going the distance and allowing just three hits — all after the fifth inning. The senior hurler, who threw 126 pitches over two games during regionals June 7, struck out four.

"I pitched one or two innings in relief against (Stevenson) in the regular season, and I never would have thought I'd have pitched today," Menchl said after the win. "We know what they're like. We saw their hitters. We saw their pitchers. Everything was in the scouting report."

South, 20-5 in its last 25 games, and Stevenson (37-3) met three times early in the season. The Titans, ranked No. 1 for most of the season by the Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association, swept the Blue Devils and outscored them 26-5 in those three contests.

"The pressure was all on them," Menchl said. "We just had to play our game. We had nothing to lose. We just came out and gave everything we had."

"We've been struggling since regional to get hits," Titans coach Joe Emanuele said. "We didn't have bad at-bats. We hit it at people a few times. I have to give credit to Menchl. He was awesome today. He was hitting his spots, getting the corners and taking advatage of it."

What would prove to be the game's winning run came in the top of the first inning when Menchl scored from third on a fielder's choice to make it 1-0 Blue Devils. The senior hurler, who just became a starter toward the end of the season after playing shortstop and pitching in relief early on in his career, led off the inning with a single to center field.

South added a run in the third inning when senior designated hitter Brett Bigham singled to left field, scoring junior third baseman Justin McCann from third.

Titans senior pitcher Jake Rogers was solid in defeat, allowing just two runs (one unearned), in six innings of work. Rogers struck out five and walked three batters.

Stevenson recorded three errors in the game, including one in the first inning that allowed Menchl to advance to third base before scoring what would be the deciding run.

"We're senior-laden on this team. We just threw the ball away," Emanuele said. "It happens."

South is making its fourth trip to the state semis since 2001. Stevenson was looking to make a second straight trip.

Utica Ford advances to state semis

The Utica Ford II softball team bested Garden City 6-4 in a D-1 state quarterfinal June 10 at Wayne State University. The Falcons (30-8) advance to take on Portage Central in a game set for 10 a.m. June 12 at MSU.

For continuous coverage of the 2014 state playoffs, check www.candgnews.com and www.mhsaa.com.