University Liggett claims fourth title in six years, 12-0 over New Lothtrop
East Lansing – Four state titles in six seasons is quite an accomplishment.
Should Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett win five in seven years it would be remarkable and unique.
The Knights (32-4) scored two runs in each of the first two innings, added four in the third and had a surprisingly easy victory over 2014 champion New Lothrop, 12-0, in five innings in the Division 3 title game at Michigan State’s McLane Stadium on Saturday.
University Liggett won the Division 4 title in 2011 and ’13, and won the Division 3 title in ’14. Next season the Knights will move up to Division 1. The petitioned the Michigan High School Athletic Association to do so and it was granted.
This move up is just for baseball, not for any other sport.
That’s not the only change the athletic programs at University Liggett will undergo. The private school in Wayne County will join the Catholic League beginning with the 2017-18 school year.
Starting pitcher Matt Gushee, who signed with High Point (NC), gave up seven hits and two walks.
“I felt like I did in any other game,” Gushee said. “I threw strikes and trusted my defense.”
Eight of the nine starters had at least one hit. Senior Connor McCarron had three and he scored three runs. Sean Fannon, Noah Miller and Anthony George all had two hits; Fannon and George scored two runs.
“It’s a dream season,” university Liggett coach Dan Cimini said. “For our team to do what they did this year and to play their best game today, in five innings, says it all.
“The game was won before it started. Our players were that mentally focused. We beat a good team. They were down 5-0 in the quarterfinals and won, 6-5 (over Standish-Sterling). I told my guys to keep the pressure on.
“I’m looking forward to Division 1. I’m one of those people who love the challenge. Our team is ready. We lose three seniors. We were 13-3 against Division 1 teams this year.”
The celebration was tinged with sorrow as Cimini spoke of his father, Donato, who dies at age 67 on June 1 of throat cancer.
“He would have been here,” Cimini said. “He would have been right behind home plate. This tournament healed me. One of the last things he said to me was to tell the boys to win a state title.
“It was very emotional.”
New Lothrop (41-4) had two runners reach third base but couldn’t get that two-out hit.
“They’re a better team,” New Lothrop coach Benjamin Almasy said. “They’re a Division 1 team. They belong there.”