BASEBALL: Brother Rice upends Divine Child, ready to defend crown in CHSL Finals
LIVONIA – While Birmingham Brother Rice didn’t get off to the start it had been hoping for in Saturday’s Catholic League A-B semifinal against Dearborn Divine Child, the Warriors’ achieved the result it has grown accustomed to in recent years.
Falling in a 2-0 hole right out of the gate, Brother Rice went on to outlast the feisty Falcons for a 7-3 win to advance to the CHSL finals for a third straight season and fourth trip since 2010.
The Warriors (26-2-1) will face Orchard Lake St. Mary’s for the crown on Thursday at 12:30 at Comerica Park.
Brother Rice skipper Bob Riker felt his team did a good job of capitalizing on Divine Child’s mistakes and was thrilled his club was able to survive with a limited offensive assault.
“We only had three hits and one of them wasn’t really a hit, and I feel pretty fortunate when you two hits and you’re leading 5-3,” he said. “We try to always put the game in perspective and it comes down to three things, you have to throw more strikes than the other pitcher, you have to catch the ball and make fewer errors and you have to strike out fewer times and I think two of those three, we did that better than them today and why we were victorious.”
Trailing 3-2, Brother Rice tied the game when junior Nick Plummer scored on an error and then took the lead as a pop-up by senior Matt Ruppenthal that fell in between several Divine Child players scored a run. An RBI single by junior Davis Feldman pushed the Warriors lead to 5-3.
Sphomore hurler Karl Kauffmann, on the mound in relief for Ruppenthal, came up with a pair of huge strikeouts to end a Falcon’s threat in the fifth.
Kauffmann is already committed to pitch in the Big 10 in college at Michigan.
“I just do what I usually do,” Kauffmann said of what Riker told him in a mound visit before picking up his two strikeouts. “I’ve had a pretty good year so far, so just keep doing the same stuff. I had a similar game against Northville last year and so I knew what was going on a little bit so I could control my emotions.”
Brother Rice then padded the lead in the bottom of the sixth as Plummer notched an RBI triple and scored later in the inning on an error to make it 7-3 and account for the final score.
After Divine Child (11-13) plated two runs in the top of the first on a two RBI double off the bat of Torey DeMare, Brother Rice answered back with two of their own in the bottom half of the inning as a sac fly by Randy Righter and an RBI single by Alex Malzone made it 2-2.
The Falcons later took the lead in the third on a sac fly from Frankie Lucska to make it 3-2.