BY DAN STICKRADT
HOLLY — There was some discrepancy earlier this week regarding how long it had actually been since Holly won a league championship in baseball.
The banners on the gymnasium wall read 1971. The Flint Metro League record books claim 1970.
Regardless, there will be a new addition to both the record books and banners on the gym wall at Holly.
The Bronchos captured their first league title in 43 years, officially, this week with a sweep of Swartz Creek, ending more than four decades without a title and finishing off a remarkable comeback after Holly started the 2013 campaign with a 1-6 record.
Two years ago, Holly’s football team ended a similar long a, capturing its first league championship in that sport in 59 years.
In the league finale Tuesday, Holly tamed Swartz Creek 5-1 in the opener, then rallied for a nine-inning, 6-5 victory over the Dragons, sending the Bronchos into a frenzy.
Holly, which won 22 games last season after not winning that many games the three previous seasons combined.
“When Benn Jackson took over the program last year, this team had not won two many ballgames over the past few years,” offered Holly assistant coach Marty Kerner. “He came in here and we won 22 games, finished second in the league and reached the district finals. We have enjoyed a nice turnaround.
“I think what is so (noteworthy) is not only that we won our first league title since 1970, but how we did it,” continued Kerner. “We did not start the season very well at all. The bats only started to come around in the second half of the season. We started 1-6. But we came back through the league and kept sweeping the first-place team. We swept Linden when they were in first, we swept Fenton when they were in first, we beat Clio in a make-up game last week and now we swept Swartz Creek. The last game against Swartz Creek we had to go nine innings before beating them, which gave us the league championship.”
Talk about the flair for the dramatic.
Chris Green gained the all-important win in the league-clinching nightcap against Swartz Creek, striking out two with no walks, five hits and four earned runs.
Holly (17-11) plated two in the first and single runs in the fourth, sixth, seventh and ninth innings. Swartz Creek scored three in the fourth and two in the sixth.
At the plate, Alec Miller finished 4-for-6 with two RBI, including the game-winning RBI single, to lead the Bronchos, who amassed 13 hits in Game 2. Justis Kerner finished 3-for-5 and scored a run, Brent Smiles was 2-for-4 which included a home run, two RBI and also plated once.
Drew Eggleston recorded a complete game win from the mound in Game 1. He fanned five, walked three and surrendered only one earned run over seven innings.
Austin Jennings was 3-for-3 and scored a run and drove home another. Justis Kerner, Smiles and Richard Kowalski each contributed two hits for the Bronchos in the opener.
Holly jumped on Swartz Creek with two runs in the first and three more in the third, while the Dragons scored their only run in the fifth inning.
“There is still plenty of baseball left. Now that we won the league, our goal is to win 20 games again and go as far as we can go in the (state) tournament,” added Kerner. “Last year we lost in the district finals. We would love to win the district this season. It’s been a long time since we won a district.”
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