BASEBALL: Stoney Creek topples Eisenhower for first district title

| June 7, 2012 | Comments (0)



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SHELBY TWP. — A decade can be a long time to suffer through the disease of frustration. That’s been the postseason fever for Rochester Stoney Creek’s baseball team.

Beginning in its inaugural 2003 season, the Cougars did not win a postseason game through 2010 and in 2011, finally won a postseason contest before falling to Romeo in the Division 1 district finals.

This season, the Cougars finally found the cure for their ills with the pill of victory.

AWAITING THE ARRIVAL: Rochester Stoney Creek catcher Niko Gonzales awaits the throw to the plste in a game this season.Gonzales and the cougars claimed their first district title Saturday with wins over Rochester and Utica Eisenhower. File Photo | Dan Stickradt

Stoney Creek had to work overtime to earn its long-anticipated bonus — its first-ever district crown— scoring three runs in the top of the eighth and holding on to down district host Utica Eisenhower, 12-9, to advance to the regional semifinals for the first time in school history.

“We finally did it,” smiled Stoney Creek coach Clint Rodger. “It was a little too close, though.”

Last season, the Cougars (22-13) had one bad inning and that frame turned out to be costly in a 7-6 loss to Romeo. This time Stoney Creek didn’t let Eisenhower’s comeback evolve into a deadly virus.

Stoney Creek, runner-up this year in the OAA Red Division after winning the league title in 2011, led 9-5 entering the bottom of the seventh before Ike put four runs on the board to send the contest into extra innings. The Cougars answered in three runs in the eighth and Eisenhower couldn’t find the antibiotics to keep pace before succumbing to its terminal postseason fate.

Stoney Creek plated five runs in the fifth, one in the sixth and three in the top of the seventh before its eighth-inning, game-clinching outburst.

Eisenhower scored five runs in the fifth to tie the contest at 5-5.

HURLING FOR A TITLE: Rochester Stoney Creek's Mike DeFrancis aided the Cougars first-ever district title Saturday. File Photo | Dan Stickradt

The Cougars collected 12 hits but surrendered five errors in the contest which allowed the Eagles to rally twice.

The Eagles only mustered six hits over eight innings, and booted the ball three times of its own, but still found a way to rally back on two occasions.

Zak Northup provided a bases-clearing triple in the eighth to put Stoney Creek up for good.

Northup gained the win on the mound in relief and helped his team’s cause at the plate. The Hillsdale college-bound senior finished 3-for-5, while he struck out four, walked two and gave up three hits and two earned runs in two innings of work on the mound.

Sophomore Joe Cox earned the save, pitching to the final Ike batter to seal the deal.

“We got a little bit of a scare with them scoring four in the seventh,” said Rodger. “But we didn’t quit. We came right back out and scored three runs and our pitching shut them down in the eighth. Last year we gave up a bunch of runs to Romeo in one inning (and never recovered).”

Justin Allor added two hits and also had RBI, Mike DeFrancis blasted a home run with a pair of RBI. He pitched the first five innings, giving up non earned runs with three strikeouts, two walks and gave up only three hits.

Niko Gonzalez finished 2-for-4 with an RBI

In the semifinals, Stoney Creek defeated Rochester 5-0, while Eisenhower downed Romeo in the other contest.

The Cougars scored all five runs in the first inning and shut down Rochester’s hopes of a late-inning comeback. Kyle Schweiger had a three-run triple to highlight the first-inning outburst.

Stoney Creek played flawless defense and Cougars pitching scattered only four hits in the contest. Northrup pitched six solid innings against Rochester, giving up the four hits with three punchouts and three walks.

Stoney Creek will face the Lake Orion district winner Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Hartland regional. Harltand and Rochester Adams will play in the other semifinal.

MAKING CONTACT: Rochester Stoney Creek's Joe Cox laces this hit for the Cougars. File Photo | Dan Stickradt

“This was one of our goals this season, to finally win the district,” said Rodger. “All of those years we kept losing in the district semis and last year we got to the finals and lost a game we should have one. I think (the returning players) used that as motivation this year.”

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