New Lothrop, behind Cam Pope, returns to D3 final
East Lansing – Benjamin Almasy left Mount Morris after the 2015 season to take over the program at New Lothrop, a school that won the 2014 Division 3 title.
Almasy said there isn’t anything special about this season’s team. They don’t have any rallying cries. A few of the players are superstitious but nothing out of the ordinary.
It seems that the only thing that sets New Lothrop apart from the rest is that the Hornets win, and they win a lot.
Behind a strong pitching performance by senior right-hander Cam Pope, the Hornets defeated the defending state champions, Jackson Lumen Christi, 6-1, in a state semifinal on Friday at McLane Stadium on the campus of Michigan State.
“Coach is usually laid back,” Pope said. “That kind of carries over through the team.
“We’ve won a lot of games, especially the senior class. I was trying to hit my spots today and get my team to the championship game.”
New Lothrop (41-3) will play Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett for the title on Saturday at 5 p.m.
University Liggett defeated Scottville Mason County Central, 9-0, in the second semifinal.
Pope went seven innings and allowed eight hits, three walks and he struck out six.
Defensively, the Hornets made all the routine plays, a couple of outstanding plays and they did not commit an error.
Quentin Taylor of new Lothrop made a diving catch in center field off of a line drive by Connor Mogle with one in the fifth and with two on in the sixth Josh Bradley snagged a line drive in right off the bat of Josh Bradley that ended the inning.
“It was just a perfect game,” Almasy said. “We made plays. There was that diving catch in center. Our shortstop (Steve Garza) always makes plays. Pitching and defense, that’s what we do. We’ve given up like 77 runs in 44 games and about 30 of those have come in the first inning. When we put up that goose egg in the first I felt pretty good.”
Lumen Christi (25-14) scored its run in the third but could have scored more. Mogle’s triple scored starting pitcher John Fleming from second but with one out Mogle was thrown out at home as he tried to score on a pitch that got away from catcher Zac Besant. The next batter, Zach Mehelich, singled before Pope retired the next batter.
Pope’s single scored Nic Johnson for New Lothrop’s first run in the bottom of the first.
The Hornets scored two runs in the fourth on four hits and an error then added three more the next inning to give Pope a five-run cushion.
New Lothrop had 10 hits led by Max Wendling and Johnson with two apiece. Wendling had two RBI.
“They hit the ball,” Lumen Christi coach Phil Clifford said. “They saw our one and two, and they did a great job. Until you get that two-out hit, that’s what puts you over the top. New Lothrop did that.”
Fleming went the first four innings and Mehelich went the last two for the Titans.
University Liggett 9, Mason County Central 0
Anthony George threw a complete-game four-hitter as the Knights returned to the finals for the first time since 2014 when they won the state title.
University Liggett (31-4) scored four runs in the second inning keyed by William Morrison’s three-run double.
The Knights scored single runs in the fourth, sixth and seventh, and scored two runs in the fifth.
George (12-1) had difficulty with his control in the first. He loaded the bases with one out and coach Dan Cimini went to the mound to calm his sophomore right-hander down.
“I had a little jitters,” George said. “I tried to overthrow. Coach said to take a step back. He told me to relax. I was pumped up. With all of the defense behind me you don’t have to strike everyone out.”
The Knights stole eight bases and had eight hits. Jackson Walkowiak had three hits and no else had more than one.
Trevor Carrier went the first three innings and Nolan Asiaia finished up for the Spartans (28-9). They combined to walk five and hit three batters.
“That’s not what we normally do,” Central coach Don Thomas said. “We usually throw strikes. We have nothing to hang our heads about. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”