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June 17, 2014

South coach reflects on baseball team’s run to state title

By Jason Carmel Davis
C & G Sports Writer

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South coach reflects on baseball team’s run to state title
The Grosse Pointe South baseball team finished 2014 27-18. Pictured is longtime Blue Devils coach Dan Griesbaum after accepting a state finalist trophy June 14 in East Lansing.

EAST LANSING — The Grosse Pointe South baseball team battled its way all the way to the 2014 Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 1 state championship game, getting hot at the right time by beating Sterling Heights Stevenson and Battle Creek Lakeview — which had a combined record of 69-8 — and earning a spot in the title game.

The final matched the Blue Devils against defending D-1 champ Bay City Western and took place June 14 at Michigan State University.

South (27-18) came up short, falling to the Warriors 6-2, as Bay City Western became the first D-1 team to win consecutive state titles.

Blue Devils coach Dan Griesbaum, who led South to a state championship in 2001, was proud of his team following the loss.

“We don’t have any reason to hang our heads — none at all,” Griesbaum said. “Anytime you’re one of the final two teams, that’s a tremendous accomplishment, especially considering where we were early on.”

South struggled to start the season, going 1-5, and were 7-12 at one point before finishing 2014 on a 20-6 tear.

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 Warriors senior first baseman Justin Gorr. South senior starting pitcher Jimmy Menchl, who picked up a win in both regional games and the state quarterfinal,  was on the hill.

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.

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 base runners of the game.

“The first inning set the tone,” 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.”

Griesbaum’s last day as a teacher was June 14. The South coach, wrapping up a 35-year career as an educator, said he plans to return as Blue Devils coach. He said the run to the state title game capped the end of a storybook season.

“Obviously, it could have been a little (better) with a win, but the clock struck midnight on Cinderella,” Griesbaum said. “But this has been one of the most satisfying years I’ve had, in terms of taking a group from the beginning and kind of molding them into what they became at the end. That’s what coaching is all about.”

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