De La Salle banks on No. 3 starter, Pilots defeats U-D in Division 1 quarterfinal
Detroit – The semifinals couldn’t have shaped up any better for Warren De La Salle and coach Matt Cook.
Cook went with his No. 3 starter, Ben Hyndman, against U-D Jesuit in Tuesdays’ Division 1 quarterfinal at Wayne State and the sophomore lefthander beat the Cubs 6-1.
De La Salle (26-13) advances to the semifinals for the first time since 2012 when the Pilots reached the final in Cook’s first season as coach.
The Pilots will play Traverse City West in a semifinal on Thursday at 2:30 p.m.
Hyndman (3-0) had difficulty in the first inning and settled down to handcuff the Cubs. Hyndman allowed just one walk.
This was just Hyndman’s fourth start this season and his pitching performance allowed Cook to save his top two starters, also sophomores, for Thursday’s trip to East Lansing. Cook wouldn’t say which pitcher he would start but it will be either Nino Puckett or Easton Sikorski.
“(Hyndman) had some nervousness in the first inning,” Cook said. “He threw strikes. He became our No. 3 because he throws strikes. He doesn’t hard. He’s not going to strike many people out. He’s around the plate.”
U-D took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on Jared Demkowicz’s RBI single. Hyndman struck out Matthew Houle to end the inning stranding runners on the corners.
The Pilots tied the score in their half of the inning on Rob Zurawski’s RBI single.
De La Salle scored four runs in the third as the first seven batters reached safely, the last six on base hits. Darren Rydzewski walked to open the inning. Bryce Bush, who doubled off Wayne State’s green monster in left in the first inning, singled in Rydzewski for what proved to be the winning run. Zurawski, Mike Karam and Hyndman also had RBI singles as De La Salle took a 5-1 lead.
“It was a big confidence booster,” Hyndman said of the productive inning. “I just had to get over the hump. It wasn’t perfect. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect. I just had to really focus on throwing strikes. I had to rely on my defense.”
The first inning aside, Hyndman was efficient. He hadn’t thrown in the districts or the regionals, and but one inning of work in the last two weeks. He’s worked 29 innings this season and has a 0.60 ERA.
Both Sikorski and Puckett pitched complete games and, with what Hyndman did on Tuesday, both will be well-rested heading to East Lansing.