Centreville, Muskegon Catholic Central to meet in final as both winning pitchers toss gems in Division 4 semifinals
East Lansing – The game is simple, even in high school, when you have someone like Michael Kool on the mound.
Kool tossed a no-hitter on Tuesday and Centreville defeated Climax-Scotts 3-0 in a quarterfinal.
On Friday Kool had it going again as he retired the first 13 batters before surrendering a single to Owen Mills before settling for a two-hitter as Centreville got past Rudyard 2-1 in a Division 4 semifinal at McLane Stadium on the campus of Michigan State University.
Centreville (29-1) will play Muskegon Catholic Central on Saturday at 5 p.m. Both teams are making their first final appearance.
Sophomore Devin Comes tossed a one-hitter as C.C. defeated Ubly 4-1 in the other semifinal. Cody Hutchison led off the game with a single for Ubly (22-8) and only four other batters reached base.
Kool, a junior right-hander, struck out 10 and walked two, both in the sixth inning. He said he was disappointed he gave up a hit but added the hitless streak had to end sometime.
“I just play baseball,” he said. “It’s not me. It’s the team. I felt good. This is the highlight of my career.
“We’re still making history for Centreville. We’re in the state final.”
Centreville took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when, with runners on the corners, Nick Kelley broke for second and was caught in a run down. Kool edged his way off third and enticed a throw from first baseman Connor Myers. His throw was wild down the third base line and Kool scooted home.
Jalen Brown’s RBI single made it 2-0 in the fifth.
Rudyard (30-5), making its third semifinal appearance, threatened to tie the score in the top of the sixth. Kool walked the first two batters and Myers’ sacrifice bunt moved the runners up. James Rosebrock singled home Cody Coffey before Kool struck out the last two batters to end the threat.
He set the side down in order in the seventh.
When asked if he thought about removing his ace in the tense sixth coach Mike Webster said he thought about it. After a brief confab Webster, as it turned out, made the correct call.
“I trust him,” he said. “I went with my instincts and left him in.
“It’s all about goals. With my background and my father being a semi-pro player, you go all the way. When I started (2012) we had 15 players, nine freshmen.”
Webster will celebrate his 27th birthday on Saturday and he said “the kids gave me the best birthday of my life”.
Travis Myers went the distance and took the loss for Rudyard.
This was coach Ron VanSloten’s last game as he will retire to spend more time with his family.
“We had never won 30 games before,” he said. “We had a couple of key at bats today. (Kool) is a good dude. Except for that one inning, he comes right at you.”
C.C. scored twice in the top of the first on consecutive singles by Anthony Woodard and Zachary Winzer. The two executed a double steal and the third batter, Nicholas Holt, singled both home.
“We want to be aggressive and go after the first-pitch fastball,” C.C. coach Steve Schuitema said. “We’re not up there looking for walks. Right off the bat we get a couple of hits and a couple of stolen bases.”
The Crusaders scratched out two more runs in the third on a walk, a base hit and two errors.
Ubly scored its run on a walk, an error and an infield ground out by Evan Block.
Comes walked just one and was in control the entire game.
“I’ve never been in a situation like this before,” he said. “I had both my pitches (fastball and curve) working. I just did my normal routine to prepare. I just tried to stay calm and throw first-pitch strikes.”
This was Ubly’s first trip to the semifinals and coach Jim Becker said it was icing on the cake for his team, especially the eight seniors.
“We’re excited but we’re also down we weren’t able to get (to the final),” he said. “We over-achieved. I expected us to be .500. All along we just wanted to win a district.”
Jeffrey Wright went the distance for Ubly and allowed seven hits.