BASEBALL: Steinborn’s complete game shutout leads New Lothrop past Beal City, to first ever state title
EAST LANSING – While Saturday afternoon was New Lothrop’s first trip to a baseball state championship game, the Hornets had the look of a team that had been there before.
Behind strong pitching from junior Grant Steinborn and timely hitting, New Lothrop secured its first ever state championship in baseball, besting Beal City, 5-0 in Division 4.
New Lothrop head coach Keith Villano said that he felt his team piqued at the right time this season and added that his entire lineup came up with big plays throughout the game.
“We came on at the right time this year,” he said. “We weren’t a good hitting team all year and we work and we work and we work on it and we go up with a certain approach and when you apply that approach, it usually works out pretty well. I have some good athletes and you could see even the bottom of the order, they all came through today and they get on base any way they can.”
After plating a run in the first inning on a Brodie Bennett RBI single, New Lothrop used a big fourth inning to widen the lead as a run scored on an error and then a Steven Garza RBI single pushed the Hornet lead to 3-0 and not long after, they took a 4-0 lead after four innings on a Quentin Taylor RBI double to right field.
Taylor said that taking the early lead was a big momentum swing in his team’s favor and said that seemed to put the pressure on Beal City as the Aggies made uncharacteristic errors throughout the day.
“I think that when we got ahead, they (Beal City) got a little down,” said Taylor. “They made some errors that got them even more down and they just couldn’t get back up.”
With a 4-0 lead, Steinborn had more than enough run support as the junior ace didn’t find himself in too much trouble throughout the day as he picked up the complete game shutout, scattering seven hits and picking up four strikeouts to earn the win.
Steinborn said that the experience of playing in the semifinals last year helped he and his teammates out a lot this time around and said that the big three run fourth inning helped him relax on the mound going forward.
“We were ready to go,” said Steinborn. “Last year we played in the semifinal, so that helped us and our nerves weren’t as high as they were last year, so we just came out and played our game and got the ‘W.’”
“It took a little pressure off of me, but when we scored three runs in the fourth inning, that was a huge momentum booster for us.”
New Lothrop would push one more insurance run across in the top of the seventh inning when Jake VanCleve hit an RBI single to left field to push the Hornet lead to 5-0 heading to the bottom of the seventh.
From there, Steinborn would handle the rest, despite giving up a two-out triple, Steinborn again stranded a Beal City runner as he induced a groundout to seal the win.
“He’s a competitor, there was no question he was going to come out and give everything he had,” Villano said of his junior ace. “There were no doubts during the entire game that he was ready to go and he went out and threw strikes and got the job done and I’m not surprised by that.”