• Michigan

Alex Mooney’s 10th-inning walk-off single clinches Orchard Lake St. Mary’s first ever Catholic League A-B division tourney title

By: Matthew B. Mowery, May 24, 2019, 4:45 pm

DETROIT — The unfinished business is now finished … finally.

It took 10 innings, but Orchard Lake St. Mary’s finally put its Catholic League title drought to bed, beating Novi Detroit Catholic Central, 2-1, on Alex Mooney’s bases-loaded, walk-off single to clinch the Eaglets’ first Catholic League championship since 1996, and its first ever in the A-B division.

“Oh, yeah, it’s finished now,” said Logan Wood, who carried a no-hitter into the eight before surrendering a hit, striking out 15. “It was great. We’ve got a special team this year, a lot of great players, great team, and we can go far in the playoffs.”

Ranked No. 3 in Division 2, the Eaglets (24-9-2) had won CHSL titles in the C-D division in 1978, 1983, 1991, 1992 and 1996, but hadn’t ever won one in the A-B division, despite playing in the finals twice, in 2007 and last year. The one a year a go left an even more bitter taste, considering the Eaglets squandered an early lead.

“Yeah. Last year, we’re up 7-0 after the first, and we thought ‘Hey, we’re going to win.’ We couldn’t throw a strike. I think we walked about 15 last year. It’s nice to get a win here at Comerica,” OLSM coach Matt Petry said. “They’re very hungry, with a good core of 14, 15 guys returning from last year’s team, that was close in the semifinal, going 10 innings with the defending champs (Stevensville Lakeshore), losing that one, I think that’s more unfinished business.”

So far, the Eaglets are ticking off goals on their preseason checklist.

“That was one of our goals this year. We’ve got three goals, to win the regular season, to win the (CHSL) tournament, and to win the state tournament, so we’re 2-for-2 right now. Hopefully we can go 3-for-3,” Mooney said. “We’ve been talking about this since Day 1: ‘Practice like you’re second, play like you’re first.’ In practice, we’re always practicing like someone’s going to beat us, but when we’re out there, we’ve got that swagger that no one’s going to beat us, and we’re the best team out there.”

It was no easy task getting the better of the Shamrocks (18-8-1), ranked No. 14 in Division 1, though.

“I told the boys it was a great baseball game. Someone was going to score more runs than the other. Did they win? Sure. Did we lose? No. They just scored more than we did. I’m so proud of the boys. They battled,” CC coach Dan Michaels said. “It was good baseball, but every little mistake, every little pitch — we say ‘Hey, you gotta win the pitch, gotta win the inning.’ Their two runs, when you think about it, and maybe a little bit of an offensive mistake by us hurt, it makes a big difference in a game like this. But, still, nine, 10 innings? Come on. I would’ve liked to win.”

Each starting pitcher, Wood and CC’s Tyler Harris, dodged a number of bullets in regulation, then had to hand the ball off to a reliever, once it stretched into extra innings.

Harris faced runners in scoring position in each of the first two innings, then again in the sixth, but allowed just two other baserunners all game.

Harrison Poeszat tripled to dead center field with two outs in the third, went to stop at third base, before realizing that the ball had been overthrown into the dugout, and trotting home for a 1-0 OLSM lead.

Wood faced one over the minimum through three innings, then had Jake Zeeb reach base on a dropped third strike. A hit batter and a walk loaded the bases for Joe Hardenbergh, who lofted a sacrifice fly to left to score the run, tying it at 1-1.

The lefty stranded the other two runners aboard, retiring 11 straight over the next three innings, before allowing a baserunner.

Harris singled with two outs in the eighth to break up Wood’s no-hit bid, then an error put a second runner aboard before Wood got out of the jam with a strikeout.

“I like that. I like the pressure,” Wood said of pitching in the high-intensity situation. “It’s fun.”

It’s been something he’s done his entire career.

“I mean, Logan’s been our horse since he stepped onto campus as a freshman. He actually no-hit CC last time out, so that’s 14 innings straight without giving up a hit,” Petry said. “He did an excellent job. He competes his butt off out there.”

It’s something the Shamrocks are well familiar with.

“Does anyone not struggle against Logan Wood? Come on,” Michaels said with a laugh. “We battled, right? We scored a run, and didn’t even have a hit, but we had some other opportunities. I think that kid’s great. I think he’s the best pitcher in the state, and I’ve got to face him next year.”

Dillon Kark relieved Wood with two out and a man on in the top of the ninth, and walked the first batter he faced before getting a pop-up to end that threat. The Shamrocks got a leadoff walk in the 10th, but Kark got out of the jam with a strikeout and a pickoff of the baserunner.

“Dillon wasn’t his sharpest today, but got the job done in a key situation, staying composed when that guy took off from second there,” Petry said, admitting having to grind out the win bodes well for the state postseason, too. “It’s good, because those are the types of wins you’re going to get in the playoffs. Our district is one of the toughest in the state, with Cranbrook, Notre Dame Prep and Country Day, so you know there’s going to be games like that. A lot of our games over the last 18 or so have been like that. Early in the season, with some of our younger guys, we were close, but couldn’t close. We found a way to close those games out.”

Cole Sibley singled to lead off the bottom of the 10th, then Ryan DuSang poked a single into right field. Kark singled to load the bases, setting up Mooney with the bases loaded and just one out.

“I thought when Alex came up … he was going to do something big for us,” Wood said.

Mooney wasn’t thinking that. He wasn’t thinking much at all.

“When I go up there, I’m not thinking about anything,” Mooney admitted. “Like my dad always said, a full head’s an empty bat, so I’m just going up there relaxed, trying to get a hit.”