BASEBALL: Grosse Pointe South keeps surprise run going, tops BC Lakeview to advance to D-1 title game
EAST LANSING – On Tuesday, very few expected Grosse Pointe South to punch its ticket to East Lansing for the Division 1 state semifinals, and yet, the Blue Devils found themselves in the state semifinals with a chance to move on to the state championship game on Thursday afternoon against favored Battle Creek Lakeview.
And fittingly, due to a last second lineup change, South senior Andrew Eaton was left out of the starting lineup, but made his first relief appearance of the season with an opportunity to clinch a state championship game berth for the Blue Devils.
After loading the bases with two outs in the seventh with a two-run lead, Eaton induced a fly ball to center field, which was easily handled to seal a 6-4 win over the Spartans and send South to the state championship game for the first time since 2001.
“I just knew I needed to get the final three outs to finish the game, I needed it,” Eaton said. “I just knew I wanted to finish it for the starter, Doug Graham, he’s a sophomore, and he’s been great for us, so I wanted to do it for him.”
With South (27-17) trailing 1-0 in the fourth inning, the Blue Devils finally broke through on the scoreboard as Bret Bigham tallied an RBI triple to knot the game at 1-1.
Shortly after, James Fishback notched an RBI base-hit to give South its first lead of the day and the Blue Devils later upped their lead to 5-1 after the fourth as Colden Gosselin and James Menchel each picked up an RBI before a run scored on a pass ball to end scoring in the inning.
Lakeview had an answer almost immediately as the Spartans (32-6) used an RBI single from Jake Bivens and a two-RBI double off the bat of Nick Jones to cut the deficit down to 5-4 in the top of the fifth.
“The thing that you want right after you go up like that is to come in and shut them down,” Griesbaum said. “It was kind of frustrating, but a good team keeps battling and that’s exactly what we did. I thought that if we get out of this, still ahead, being the home team, we’re going to be okay.
The Blue Devils later got an insurance run as Fishback drilled an RBI double to left center to push South’s lead to 6-4 in the bottom half of the fifth and Eaton managed to shut the door in his final two innings of work to preserve the win.
Making his first relief appearance of the year, Eaton said that it was a far different experience than starting and added that he was focused on finding the plate and needed to make sure he retired the first batter he faced.
“My mindset was to just get the first guy out,” he said. “And to throw strikes, because I hit a batter, but I just needed to regroup and throw strikes.”
**Editor’s Note: Highlights of the game will be on Sunday at Noon on CW50 Detroit and ABC 4 in West Michigan**