Fleming throws a 4-hitter and Lumen Christi wins its second title, 8-0 over Buchanan in Division 3
East Lansing – It took Jackson Lumen Christi one inning to take control of the Division 3 title game on Saturday.
The road had its beginnings decades ago.
The Titans scored six runs in the first inning and junior John Fleming tossed a four-hitter as Lumen Christi won its second state title with an 8-0 victory over Buchanan at McLane Stadium on the campus of Michigan State University.
Lumen Christi won the 1978 Class B title with a 10-6 victory over Spring Lake.
Fleming’s green cap told in numbers some of the signs that directed his team to the championship game. There are the numbers 13 and 14 representing Fleming first two seasons, ones that fell short of their goals. There’s the number 78 for title won that year and he also wrote the number 82 on it. This represents the year (1982) he father, who played football at Lumen Christi, graduated.
To Fleming they are reminders of goals attained, and others that fell short.
“You have to make the most of your opportunities,” he said. “That’s why they’re there.”
The Titans sent 11 batters to the plate in the first and collected six hits. Connor Mogle had a two-run single and Connor Fors had a two-run triple.
The most serious trouble Fleming faced was in the third when the Bucks put runners on first and second with no outs. A sacrifice moved the runners up and Fleming retired the Nos. 3 and 4 hitters in the lineup, Jarrett Thomas and Chad Adkerson, on fly to center and pop to second, respectively.
“It was a lot easier (pitching) with a six-run lead,” Fleming said. “It just took a big weight off my shoulders. I didn’t change anything. My plan was to change speeds, hit spots.
“We played tough competition during the year and that helped us. Our defense made diving plays. They were show ponies.”
Lumen Christi did not commit and error, Buchanan had three.
Lumen Christi (23-16) entered the tournament with a 16-16 record and coach Phil Clifford, as Fleming did, said the quality teams his team faced during the season had much to do with their tournament run.
“(The regular season) is to prepare you for the tournament,” Clifford said. “You try to play the best competition. This is the best defensive team I’ve had in my five years.
“The biggest word we have is believe.”
Lumen Christi finished fourth in its conference. Among its members are Charlotte, Coldwater, Marshall and Battle Creek Harper Creek.
Buchanan (24-8) was making its first final appearance since capturing the Class C title in ’85 (defeated Grandville Calvin Christian, 3-2).
Coach Lonnie Hoover said there’s no shame in losing in the final. He tipped his cap to Lumen Christi and said his young team will be back. One senior started this season.
“(Lumen Christi) definitely put the ball all over the field today,” Hoover said. “They made the plays that stopped two of our rallies. (Fleming) threw some good pitches; off speed that kept us off balance.”