BASEBALL: Hartland downs Troy Athens to reach first Final Four since 2000

| June 10, 2015 | Comments (1)



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NOVI — At first you don’t succeed, dust yourself and try again.

After losing in the state quarterfinals three times in the past six years, Hartland finally broke the quarterfinal hex Tuesday with a 4-1 victory over Troy Athens in a Division 1 state quarterfinals at Novi High School.

The unranked Eagles (26-16-1) will finally play in their first state semifinals contest since 2000, where eighth-ranked Grand Rapids Kenowa Hills (28-5) awaits at 9 a.m. Thursday on the campus of Michigan State.

“We’ve come close before, so it is nice to finally get through,” said veteran Hartland coach Brian Morrison. “In the past we came in ranked, but didn’t get the job done. I still think there was plenty of pressure. It’s never easy when you get to this stage. Both teams are red hot and on a roll. But our guys stepped up and got us here. We get a couple of more days of baseball.”

Perhaps junior right-hander John Baker stepped up more than any other. After firing a win from the bump during Saturday’s regionals, he grabbed the ball again Tuesday and hit the mound to hurl a four-hitter with nine strikeouts against Athens.

Baker, who walked two, got out of a jam in the top of the seventh, getting the final out with two runners on base.

“We had that one great inning with some clutch hits off a good pitcher, and the way the game was going we knew that’s what it was going to take,” said Morrison. “And what a great performance by John (Baker). He had a lot of pitches on Saturday. He came back today and pitched a great game. That’s a gutsy performance.Their pitcher did a reply good job, too. Other than the one inning, we didn’t get many hits.”

Hartland scored all of its runs in the fourth inning. Junior Thomas Rivet’s RBI single plated Maximillian Hendricks and Richard Bortle, while Hunter DeLanoy knocked in Rivet and Alexander Vydick with another single to right field later in the frame.

Athens senior John VanHoef, who also pitched on only two days rest, suffered the loss despite scattering four hits for the Red Hawks (19-11). VanHoef pitched a complete game late Saturday afternoon in a regional finals win over Utica Eisenhower less than 72 hours prior to Tuesday’s start.

The Red Hawks scored their only run on a solo home run by Brendan Genereau in the sixth inning. Athens could not muster enough in the final inning to threaten with a comeback.

“What a great group of guys and a great season,” said Athens coach Mike Morris. “There’s no other guys that I would rather be in the trenches with than this group of young men. We battled through some injuries at the beginning of the season and came back to win districts and our first regional title in school history. They just kept battling and battling teams and showed that they deserved to be here.”

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  1. Toddcheney says:

    Eagles made semis in 2000.

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