Jarrett Thomas delivers 2-run double, scores winning run as Buchanan defeats Gladstone 6-4 in a Division 3 semifinal
East Lansing – Jarrett Thomas just didn’t have his head in the game. As the starting pitcher for Buchanan in a state semifinal Thomas had difficulty locating the plate and coach Lonnie Hoover pulled him after just two innings with his team trailing Gladstone, 3-0.
“I had to keep focusing,” said Thomas, who moved to shortstop. “I had to do something else to help the team.”
Thomas did just that as his two-run double sparked a three-run fifth and Buchanan defeated Gladstone 6-4 in a Division 3 semifinal on Friday at McLane Stadium on the campus of Michigan State University.
Buchanan (24-7) will play Jackson Lumen Christi (23-16) in Saturday’s final at 2:30 p.m.
Lumen Christi will make its second final appearance after defeating Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker, 7-3, in the other semifinal.
Zach Mehelich went the first four innings to get the victory and Josh Iocca went the final three to get the save for Lumen Christi.
The Titans scored two in the second, one in the third and broke open the game with four in the fourth.
Thomas, who threw 145 pitches in last Saturday’s regional, never found a rhythm on the mound. He threw 63 pitches, walked five and allowed three hits.
“He didn’t have his stuff,” Hoover said. “It was easy to make the switch.”
Sophomore Kyle Leazenby, who went four innings as the starter in Tuesday’s quarterfinals, relieved Thomas and was spot on. He set the side down in order in the third and went the final five innings to get the victory. He allowed five hits, one run and did not walk a batter.
“I feel I had a lot more left,” Leazenby said. “I was very pumped up. It’s a lot different than Tuesday. This is the biggest game. There’s just a lot of emotions out there.”
Offensively Buchanan got untracked in the bottom of the third when Josiah Smith singled with one out. With two outs Christian Hall singled and Thomas walked to load the bases. A passed ball brought one run home and Chad Adkerson singled in the second and Buchanan trailed 3-2.
Hunter Garling’s sacrifice fly brought home Gladstone’s fourth run in the fourth.
Bryce Vinyard started Buchanan’s fifth rally by reaching base on an error with one out. Hall singled and Thomas doubled to score both runners to tie the score. Thomas then stole third and scored the winning run on Adkerson’s sacrifice fly.
Buchanan scored its sixth run in the sixth when Gavin Morris doubled, went to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on Josiah Smith’s sacrifice fly.
Starting and losing pitcher Jake Peterson went 3-4 with two RBI.
Gladstone coach Don Lauscher said his team left too many base runners on and when they did make a mistake, Buchanan capitalized.
Gladstone loaded the bases with no outs in the first and didn’t score.
“Good teams make you pay for your mistakes,” he said.
With nine sophomores and five freshmen on this year’s team, Lauscher is looking forward to 2016.
Chris Cooper had three of Lumen Christi’s seven hits and his triple brought in the first run and his two-run single highlighted the fourth.
Right fielder Zach Spicer made the game’s biggest play defensively in the top of the third inning. Laker senior Brady Post singled to put runners on the corners with one out when Dustin Kady hit a fly to right. Spicer threw one hop to John Fleming who put the tag on Jacob Periso for the third out.
“I thought I’d be late on the bounce,” Spicer said. “It was pretty cool. It was great for our confidence.”
Another key to the game was how Lumen Christi answered Laker’s two runs in the fourth. Lumen Christi led 3-0 before the Lakers closed within a run and then the Titans scored four in the bottom half of the fourth to take a 7-2 lead.
Lumen Christi won the 1978 Class B final, 10-6, over Spring Lake and Cooper said playing in a final will be a unique experience.
”It’s a feeling I haven’t had before,” he said. “I’m going out (Saturday) with the same attitude and try to come out with a win.”
Offensively for Laker (22-11) Cody Voelker had three of his team’s nine hits.