By: Seth Kinker, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Dexter Dreadnaught baseball team (19-12) defeated the Pinckney Pirates (18-17) on Jun. 3 at Ray Fischer stadium, the home of Michigan baseball, 9-5 in a division one district final to win their first district title in seven years.
On Jun. 1, both the Dreadnaughts and Pirates had a long day in the semifinal round.
The Pirates got their first game in when they upset third ranked Brighton. The Dreadnaughts started their game with Ann Arbor Skyline and it was called in the first inning. The games were then moved to Ray Fischer stadium for a 4:30 p.m. restart.
The Dreadnaughts went on to beat Skyline 10-0 and the district title game between the Pirates and Dreadnaughts started shortly after six. The game went in to a weather delay due to thunder in the bottom of the first and after a half hour delay, they restarted the game again. They made it to the top of the third with the Dreadnaughts holding a 4-3 when another storm blew in and forced the game to be postponed.
With it raining 24 of 31 days in May, both teams were accustomed to the elements effecting play. Dreadnaught head coach Mike Penn could only recall a handful of games being called in the middle of the contest but expanded on the issues the weather has caused.
“It’s tough to practice, to stay in a rhythm,” said Penn. “Credit to these guys. We broke out offensively in districts and that’s a big deal for us. It’s been a battle the past couple weeks to stay in rhythm and see live pitching. Going inside, outside, we don’t know what the days were going to hold. It’s been a challenge.”
On Jun. 3 the game resumed, the same count (1-2) with a man on third, and two outs.
“We knew we needed to kill their momentum,” said Penn on the message to the team picking up from Saturday when their bats were beginning to get hot. “If they score the run on third, that’s fine. Let’s limit the damage. It’s a tie ball game. We thought we could out hit them in the long run. Limit damage and not let it snowball and pick up where we left off because we knew we were hot offensively.”
Pirate Bryce White singled to bring home Dalton Knightley and the game was tied once again. Dreadnaught senior David Kreske struck out Jack Trachet, one of three, as he played the rest of the continued game on Monday and only allowed two hits.
“What you see there is a competitor,” said Penn on Kreske. “He’s going to Grand Valley to play football. He’s been a three-year starter for us on varsity. If there’s a guy you want to have the ball in a big moment, you’re going give it to Kreske. He wills things and is good kid who wants to win, he’s led us all year and is an all district player because of it.”
On the other side, the Pirates used five pitchers with none lasting more than two innings. The Dreadnaughts doubled the Pirates in hits, 12-6.
In the bottom of the third the Dreadnaughts reclaimed a 5-4 one run lead on an infield single by senior Alex Mills. Pirate pitcher Ty Abner got a strikeout to end the inning with a man left on the bases.
The fourth inning was when the Dreadnaughts took control. After a Kreske strikeout and two groundouts the Dreadnaughts were back up to bat.
Kreske led off with a single. A pinch runner for him was thrown out but sophomore Evan Krolewski, the next batter, reached third after hitting the left infield gap and a fielding error.
Senior Kevin DeVoogd then hit another triple, this one deep to right field. Krolewski scored to make it 6-4 and the Pirates made a pitching change.
After a walk put men on the corners with still only one out, junior Trevor Feeman stole second. Then, junior Nate Kniesteadt hit the left infield gap again.
DeVoogd scored and Feeman advanced to keep runners at the corners with the score now 7-4.
A bad pitch scored Feeman and allowed Kniesteadt to get to third to make it 8-4 and senior Andy Durand, the next batter, singled to left field to score Kniesteadt and force another Pirate pitching change as they took a 9-4 lead.
In the top of the fifth Kreske walked the leadoff man and then forced a double play against the next batter. A fly out stranded a Pirate who had singled to left.
When the Dreadnaughts went up to bat in the bottom of the fifth, the Pirates responded with a double play of their own. The Dreadnaughts then stranded two runners of their own after a groundout.
The Pirates would score their only run of the continued contest in the top of the sixth. After a leadoff walk, Pirate designated hitter Will Schultz hit a deep double to right field to score Trachet from first to make it 9-5.
In the top of the seventh, the last chance for the Pirates, their leadoff batter, Al Thorington was walked. Knightley then hit a ball on the ground to third and Thornington was thrown out at second for the first out.
The next Pirate batter grounded out to force the out at second for the second out.
Finally, Kreske got the last Pirate batter to ground out to secure the district title and set up a regional matchup at Mattawan on Jun. 5 against no. 2 Portage Northern.
Penn was a part of the 2012 team that won a district title but said this one was special because of it being his first as a head coach. He also tipped his hat to the senior class.
“This group of seniors, going back to football, took our school to its first ever state playoffs,” said Penn. “Now you see the culmination of a lot of football kids playing baseball and carrying that same type of winning mentality and trying to change a culture. I think that speaks to this class, it’s special. They’ve done a good job of raising the bar.”
“They hit the ball well,” said Penn on the limited scouting they’ve done of Portage Northern thus far. “Baseball, and you saw it with Pinckney against Brighton, you got to throw strikes, play good defense, and put the ball in play. We control what we can control. We’ve got as good of a chance as anyone else. It’s just a matter of playing Dexter baseball and putting together a solid game.