Mt. Pleasant returns to D-2 Final for second straight year, St. Mary's also advances to state title game
East Lansing – One year ago, Logan Buczkowski watched his brother, Hunter, pitch Mt. Pleasant into the Division 2 state championship game as a sophomore.
On Thursday afternoon, it was Logan’s turn to do the same.
Logan, now a sophomore pitcher for Mt. Pleasant, took the mound for the Oilers and led them to a second straight appearance in the state finals as Mt. Pleasant topped Adrian, 9-0.
After watching his brother from the stands a year ago, Buczkowski said he was excited for his chance and he enjoyed every second of Thursday’s game.
“It was exhilarating,” he said. “I loved it. Every moment, I cherished it.”
Mt. Pleasant will aim at the program’s second straight title on Saturday at 11:30 am where it will face Orchard Lake St. Mary’s.
Out to an early 2-0 lead after two innings, Mt. Pleasant blew the game wide open in the third, behind RBI singles coming from Hunter Buczkowski and Noah Ingram and later in the inning, a run scored to push the lead to 5-0.
That would be all the run support that Logan Buczkowski would need as he was locked in for his final three innings of work as he finished the afternoon with six strikeouts and allowed just three hits in six innings of work, before Cameron Mitchell closed out the seventh.
“He threw well and he’s been throwing well,” said Mt. Pleasant coach Luke Epple of Buczkowski’s performance. “He was throwing strikes, getting ahead of hitters, changing speeds. I think when we got ahead of them early, it really helped there too. He walked a couple of guys, but he pitched well against the top hitters, he’s throwing well for a sophomore.”
An RBI bunt from Daniel Keller that would lead to a second run to score after an error followed by a sac fly from Ingram gave the Oilers an 8-0 lead before an RBI bloop single off the bat of Kalebb Perry ended the scoring at 9-0.
Perry, who admitted he has been slumping throughout the postseason, lead the way for the Oilers offensively, as he finished 3-for-4 with two triples and an RBI.
“I was just trying to hit the ball, to be 100 percent honest,” said Perry of his day at the plate. “I’ve been slumping all postseason, so I was trying to get myself consistent, get my feet back under me so I can produce for my team.”
It didn’t take long for Mt. Pleasant to get things going offensively as Maxwell Trucks delivered an RBI single in the top of the first and one inning later, after a leadoff triple, Kaleb Perry scored on a wild pitch to give the Oilers an early 2-0 lead.
Hunter Buczkowski will take the mound for the Oilers in the state championship game on Saturday.
Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 9, Vicksburg 1
East Lansing – A fast start to their win over Divine Child in Tuesday’s quarterfinal was a big key for Orchard Lake St. Mary’s and on Thursday, the Eaglets didn’t waste any time getting going once again.
St. Mary’s plated five runs in the first two innings as the Eaglets cruised to a 9-1 win over Vicksburg as they would advance to the Division 2 state final for the first time since 2009.
In the Division 2 state championship game, St. Mary’s will face defending State Champion Mt. Pleasant on Saturday morning at 11:30 am back at Michigan State.
St. Mary’s coach Matt Petry said that after his team had slow starts offensively in districts and regionals, his team has been more aggressive in the last two games.
“The first districts and regionals, we struggled to score some runs early, but in the last two games, we’ve come out swinging up and down the lineup,” he said. “It’s been great for us to get out ahead, especially against a young team that hasn’t necessarily played in an environment like this.”
The majority of the damage done in the first two innings was by a two-RBI base hit from Drew Boyd and an RBI coming from Joe Carlini and Carter Macias as St. Mary’s took a 5-0 lead into the third frame.
The five runs would be more than enough run support for starter Drake Titus, who was in complete control from start to finish as he finished the day after six innings, allowing just four hits and one run, while striking out six batters.
“He’s just a bulldog,” Petry said. “He was changing speeds, he was getting ahead of hitters and he was throwing strikes, I don’t recall him walking a batter. He makes the other team beat you and he did an excellent job today.”
Titus said that after his team jumped out to the early lead, it helped him relax a bit as he was able to pitch with a comfortable lead for the rest of the game.
“I was very happy,” he said. “Pitching with the lead is way better than pitching behind or in a tight game, it helped a lot. They did a great job swinging the bats.”
In the bottom of the third inning, Titus would help his own cause as he connected for an RBI single and another run would come in to score after an error to make it 8-0.
St. Mary’s is expected to pitch Greg Loukinen in Saturday’s Division 2 state championship game.