BASEBALL: Bay City Western cruises past Clarkston, returns to state championship game for second straight year
EAST LANSING – Not often in Division 1 does a team manage to repeat as state champions.
In fact, it’s never been done at the Division 1 level in MHSAA history.
But Bay City Western entered Thursday afternoon, looking to take another step closer to making history as the Warriors faced Clarkston with a chance to return to the state championship game for a second straight year.
Behind Western’s aggressive offensive approach and lights-out pitching from senior Scott Badour, the Warriors are one step away from repeating as state champions as the Warriors easily knocked off Clarkston, 6-1.
Western’s quest to repeat will go through Grosse Pointe South, which advanced to the state championship game earlier in the day, besting Battle Creek Lakeview, on Saturday at McLane Field at Michigan State.
After losing 10 players, including six college bound players off of last year’s squad, Western (37-7) starts four sophomores on this year’s team, but head coach Tim McDonald said that the young players don’t play like young players and the Warriors are the definition of a team.
“I think they don’t think of themselves as sophomores anymore,” he said. “I think they understand their roles, and we don’t have any stars on this team, we don’t have any one guy that you have to be careful of, it’s a team in every aspect of the word. We play baseball in a way that I think baseball should be played, we make plays, we move runners along, we take advantage of opportunities and it’s fun to watch.”
Western’s sophomores got the scoring started in the second inning for the Warriors as a sac fly from Tyler Snover and an RBI single by Jason Clark gave Western a 2-0 advantage early on.
Then in the third inning, Badour helped his own cause with a sac fly that scored a run and then Snover connected for an RBI single to push the Western lead to 4-0 heading to the fourth.
That would prove to be plenty of run support for Badour, who kept Clarkston hitters off balance game long as he picked up the complete game win, allowing just one run on five hits, while tallying four strikeouts.
“We played this team a couple of weeks ago and they’re a great hitting team,” Badour said of Clarkston. “They destroyed the ball the last time we played them, so I had my off-speed going big time and I had to keep the players off balance and get them on their front foot, and it worked out good today.”
After Western extended its lead to 5-0, Clarkston (20-13) finally got on the scoreboard as a Mitch Smith RBI single cut the deficit to 5-1 in the fourth inning, but the Wolves were unable to generate much more offense.
Clarkston skipper Phil Price said that for his team, they weren’t able to keep Western off the base-paths, where the Warriors do plenty of damage, but credited his squad for battling back all game long.
“The thing you have to do is keep them (Western) off base,” he said. “They can’t bunt with nobody on base and we didn’t execute as well as we needed to, but our kids battled. That’s a veteran team, I know they lost a lot of players from previous seasons, but they’re very successful year-in, year-out.”
Western later got an extra insurance run by way of an RBI bunt single off the bat of Justin Gorr to extend the lead to 6-1 in the sixth inning.