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Stevenson, Brother Rice look to win league titles

By: Tom Markowski, May 9, 2017, 6:25 pm

Sterling Heights – The state tournament starts on May 30 so let’s stick with the regular season while there’s still time.

Sterling Heights Stevenson has had a remarkable run recently and is in position to win its eight consecutive Macomb Area Conference Red Division title.

Annually this division is one of the state’s best with teams like Stevenson, Grosse Pointe North and Grosse Pointe South all having won state titles.

The Titans are strong up the middle and have two reliable starting pitchers.

“We have pitching and defense,” coach Joe Emanuele said. “And when you have that you’re in every game.”

Stevenson has won more than its share of close games On May 8 Zack Roth got the start on the mound and Johnny Tikkanen came in relief to pick up a 5-4 victory over Grosse Pointe South to move to 9-0 in the division, 18-3 overall.

“We had some questions coming into the season,” Emanuele said. “We had to find some new pitchers. Our first three games were against Rochester, (Birmingham) Brother Rice and Grosse Pointe North. I would have been happy to win one of those.”

Stevenson won all three before going on spring break.

Luke McGuire is a right-hander who signed with Eastern Michigan. Add junior lefthander Garrett Navarra, a transfer from Warren Cousino, and the Titans have as good a one-two punch as any in the area.

Ryan Lux shares time with Todd Paperd behind the plate and Mario Carmiletti is a solid hitting shortstop who signed with Oakland.

The big surprise this season has been the play of second baseman Steve Tamburro. Tamburro saw time on the junior varsity last season as a junior and is batting .405.

Stevenson drew a bye in the pre-district and will play Macomb Dakota in a Division 1 district semifinal on June 3 at Utica.

Due to numerous weather-related postponements there are many games to be played before then.



Catholic League playoffs offer a new twist


Brother Rice wrapped up the Catholic League Central Division title posting a 16-3 league record and will play Dearborn Divine Child, a team it defeated four times in league play, in an A-B Division semifinal on Thursday at Comerica Park at 7:30 p.m. Warren DeLaSalle, which at 14-6 finished second, will play Detroit Catholic Central in the other A-B semifinal at 5:30.

It’s the first time the Catholic League hold its semifinal round at Comerica Park. Scheduling conflicts have prevented the league from holding its two championship games (C-D and A-B divisions) at Comerica Park so league officials opted to play its four semifinal games downtown.

The Jimmy John’s Field in Utica will be the site of the two championship games.

Brother Rice (20-6) doesn’t boast the talent it has had in recent years and coach Bob Riker has used 12 of the 21 varsity players on the mound.

“I throw a lot of guys,” he said. “I don’t have the horses who go the distance as I’ve had in the past. Sometimes they’ll go three innings and then its next up.”

His top three players are Alex Kuster (P/DH/1B) who’s batting .458 and who signed with Ohio, Christ Faust who’s 7-1 and signed with Saginaw Valley State and leadoff hitter Reese Trahey who plays centerfield and is hitting .382.

“No, no. There are no stars,” Riker said. “It’s pretty self-satisfying to see how well this group has done.”

Riker added that, in addition to his club, the talent is down a bit, not only in the league in throughout the state in general. He gave no specific reason for this. It could be cyclical.