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BASEBALL: St. Mary’s diamond-cutters ready to fly in ’13

By: Scott Burnstein, March 31, 2013, 10:00 am

ORCHARD LAKE – Look for Orchard Lake St. Mary’s to be a team on the rise on the local prep baseball field this spring.

The young and hungry Eaglets are riding into the 2013 season with heightened expectations, returning a majority of last year’s club that came on strong late to capture a Division 2 district championship.

So far, so good.

On the heels of a doubleheader-sweep (3-2, 5-3) of Dexter back on Thursday, St. Mary’s is 3-0 out of the starting-blocks.

“We’ve got a lot of depth in the dugout this year and they are a group of guys that like to compete and test themselves,” Eaglets’ skipper Matt Petry said. “There aren’t many weak spots on the roster. Our line-up is solid 1-through-9.”

In addition to his cagey and talented core of returners in the field, Petry also added an ace on the mound in junior transfer Connor Bowers, who comes into the fold over from Birmingham Seaholm.

Bowers was sparkling in his debut in an Eaglets uniform, tossing a complete-game five-hitter, striking out 10 in St. Mary’s win in the opener of its twin-bill with Dexter.

Behind Bowers in the pitching rotation is the rock-solid duo of senior Marshal Scott and junior Joe Giacalone. Scott picked up the win in the back-end of the team’s doubleheader Thursday.

Handling the Eaglets’ staff for the second year in a row will be star junior catcher, Will Salter, already committed to play his college ball in the Big 10 at Michigan State.

The infield is spearheaded by third baseman Mike Hodgins, the club’s senior captain, standout junior first baseman Julian Jones and fab freshman Joe Carlini, set to start at second.

St. Mary’s outfield is equally formidable, sparked by a pair of pure athletes in junior centerfielder Devin Rose and sophomore left fielder Tyson Smith. Rose (four hits, two RBI and three stolen bases Thursday) and Smith are both versatile on the diamond, bringing speed, defense and a quick stick that hits for average and power.

Speaking of versatility, Scott, Jones, Rose and Smith all play on the Eaglets’ powerhouse football team, a squad that is the defending Catholic League champs and has appeared in five of the past six Division 3 state finals. In the fall, Bowers could be quarterbacking the team.

On the baseball diamond, the race for the Catholic League crown this year is sure to once again be a war, with St. Mary’s fighting it out for the title with Birmingham Brother Rice, Warren De La Salle, University of Detroit-Jesuit, Novi Detroit Catholic Central and Dearborn Divine Child.

Petry is entering his third campaign skippering the Eaglets. He’s hoping to lead St. Mary’s to a repeat district title and its first CHSL championship since 1992.

Back in his own playing days, Petry pitched at Birmingham Brother Rice and then in college at the University of Michigan. His father, Dan, the former Detroit Tigers hurler and MLB All-Star, often helps out around the club.

The Eaglets head down to Ohio for a series of games against squads from Toledo and Columbus this week, before traveling home to face Divine Child to open league play next Saturday.