BASEBALL: Liggett wins second straight state title, this time in Division 3 with win over Decatur
EAST LANSING – Two years ago, Grosse Pointe Woods University of Liggett fell at the hands of Decatur in the Division 4 state championship game as the Raiders spoiled Liggett’s quest for a repeat.
And after Liggett won the Division 4 title last year, the Knights returned to the state championship game looking for a repeat once again and once again on Saturday, the Knights had to go through Decatur to complete their journey for a second straight state title, this time playing in Division 3.
But this time, Liggett wouldn’t be denied as the Knights cruised to a convincing 9-0 win over Decatur to pick up a second straight state championship in their first year playing in Division 3.
Liggett (25-8) head coach Dan Cimini said that once his team knocked off Madison Heights Bishop Foley it knew it had a legitimate chance to win the state championship and praised his team for not only advancing to the championship game four straight years, but winning three titles in the four trips.
“I think D-3 is obviously a little bit tougher and Bishop Foley is as good as any team in the state regardless of what division, so I think once we got past them, and we did believe we were going to beat them, I think their eyes were on the prize and nobody was going to stop us,” he said. “Everyone believed that, including myself and here we are, three out of four and being in the finals four years in a row and win three of them and be runner up the other time, I’m so proud of what these kids accomplished.”
The Knights got the scoring started in the third inning when freshman starter Gehrig Anglin sit a sac fly to drive in a run and shortly after, junior Nick Azar scored on a wild pitch to put Liggett on top, 2-0 early on.
Anglin overcame a bit of a shaky start on the mound through the first two innings before he settled in and kept Decatur off balance for the majority of the final five innings of the day and picked up the complete game shutout as he allowed just two hits and struck out four batters to earn the win.
The freshman ace of the Liggett staff said that while he was nervous before the game, he didn’t feel any nerves once he took the mound and was able to settle in after he started relying on his four-seam fastball and focused on getting the ball over the plate.
“I wasn’t really nervous. I was before the game getting ready, but once I stepped out there, I was fine, he said. “During the beginning of the game, I was struggling locating my fastball, but I settled down a little bit, changed my fastball and just threw strikes,” he said. “I started off with a two-seam and then I moved to a four-seam.”
In the fifth inning, Liggett blew the game wide open as the Knights took advantage of defensive mishaps by Decatur and pushed seven runs across the plate to push the lead to 9-0 heading to the sixth after an RBI single off the bat of Adam Fiema and another RBI base hit from Anthony Simon.
That would be all the offense that Ligget would need and more with Anglin on the mound as the freshman retired six of the next seven batters he faced, including two strikeouts to start the seventh and a lineout to shortstop Connor McCarron to seal the win.
“He’s an amazing kid,” Cimini said of Anglin. “He’s played a lot of baseball and has probably played more innings in his career than some of these seniors. He’s a 14 year old, but he pitches like a junior or senior, he’s done a great job and he’s been our ace all year.”