MCE baseball ends Crossroads’ season in district finals

CCA bested by MCE in 11-5 loss to district host in the finals after win against Pentwater in the semifinals

CUSTER — A solid Crossroads effort on the baseball diamond fell short Friday at Mason County Eastern.

After a 13-4 semifinal win over Pentwater, the Cougars lost 11-5 to the host Cardinals in the title game and ended their season at 8-19.

It was the fifth district title in six seasons for the Cardinals, 12-7 overall.

COMING HOME: Crossroads’ Erik Alverez (14) steps on home plate during a Division 4 district semifinal against Pentwater on Friday. (Pioneer photo/John Raffel)

COMING HOME: Crossroads’ Erik Alverez (14) steps on home plate during a Division 4 district semifinal against Pentwater on Friday. (Pioneer photo/John Raffel)

“I thought we played fantastic,” Crossroads coach Ed Milam said. “The guys worked hard against a good MCE team. I’m proud of everyone.”

MCE took a pair from Crossroads recently during the regular season. But, bolstered from their impressive win against Pentwater in Friday’s semifinal, the Cougars were hopeful the third time would be the charm.

Travis McCormick went the distance for the Cards, allowing eight Crossroads hits and striking out six.

MCE was the visiting team and scored two in the second, two in the third and three in the fourth. Crossroads had one in the second and one in the third, but trailed the Cardinals 7-2.

The Cougars got their third run on a fielder’s choice in the fifth, but trailed 10-3. MCE scored again in the sixth for an 11-3 lead. Crossroads loaded the bases in the sixth with no outs and scored two runs on Zach Rardin’s sacrifice fly and

Brook Angell’s RBI infield hit. McCormick shut out the Cougars after that.

“I think we played the best defense out of the four teams here (Friday),” MCE coach Dan Hanson said. “I think that’s probably what made the difference. We were the best defensive team.”

Ryan Smithey took the loss for Crossroads and was relieved in the third inning by Luke Zandstra. Josh DuBreuil came in during the sixth.

James Strickland and David Hunt had two hits apiece for Crossroads.

“In the final game, I thought we competed well,” Milam said. “All day, we hit the ball pretty good. There’s nothing to be ashamed of.”

Crossroads got a solid pitching effort from Nate Worrall and Zandstra in the first-game win over Pentwater. Worrall went 4 1-2 innings and Zandstra went the rest of the way. They allowed a combined seven hits and fanned four batters. Pentwater was held to two runs in the third and two in the fifth.

Crossroads had four runs in the second, two in the third and four in the fifth. They added two in the sixth on RBI doubles from Justin Thorne and Strickland.

“We hit the ball really good and ran the bases well,” Milam said. “I thought in that game against Pentwater, Nate Worrall pitched fantastic and put us in a position to do a real good job and get to the finals.”

Angell, Strickland and Zandstra had two hits apiece.

“We have a ton of guys coming back next year,” Milam said. “We’re definitely on the radar to do some big things in the future. We’re very young and played very well.”

Baldwin’s hopes of district success ended with one bad inning and a 7-4 loss to MCE in the district semifinals.

The Panthers were up 3-2 going into the bottom of the sixth. But the Cardinals took advantage of two Panther throwing errors on bunts and scored four runs to take control of the game.

The host team had an early 1-0 lead. Baldwin scored in the top of the third on Tyler Clugston’s RBI single and Clay Bowen’s RBI bounceout for a 2-1 lead. Maverick Fisher started but hit two batters in the bottom of the third and Alan Clugston, who hadn’t pitched in over a month because of an elbow injury, came back in relief. The game was tied 2-2 and then Tyler Clugston scored on a wild pitch in the fifth. Errors and wild pitches hurt the Panthers. Fisher came back to pitch.

“I said before the game that whoever makes the least amount of mistakes will win,” Baldwin coach Doug Bolles said. “We played pretty quality baseball for five innings. We did really well. The one play, Alan (from his pitching position) went out on a bunt and tried to make a great play. We tried to make stuff happen. We rushed ourselves and got a little excited. That’s high school baseball.”

Because of cancellations, this was only Baldwin’s third game in the last three weeks.

“We could never get into the swing of things,” Bolles said. “Some of our guys this year got more experience.”

In the top of the seventh, Bowen tripled and scored on Alan Clugston’s sacrifice fly.

Baldwin is 5-8. Bolles indicated postponed games from the regular season with Pentwater and Manistee Catholic may or may not be replayed next week.

“I feel really bad we’re putting away the uniforms,” Bolles said. “We played hard (Friday). Custer is 10-1 in our conference and we played three really good games with them. They were the better team (Friday).”

Tyler Clugston had three hits while Bowen had two hits and two RBIs.

 

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Posted by John Raffel

John is a sports reporter with the Pioneer as well as the Herald Review and The Lake County Star. He also coordinates the weekly Pioneer sports outdoors page. He can be reached at (231) 592-8356 or by email at jraffel@pioneergroup.com.

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