GP South wins second title, blows past Woodhaven, 8-1, in D1, Riverview Richard takes first title with 3-0 win over Bishop Foley
East Lansing – Perhaps the two teams swapped stories of why nobody expected either one to be there, when the rains were pouring down on Michigan State’s McLane Stadium, halting the Division 1 baseball championship for more than 20 minutes early Saturday afternoon.
Or maybe they just used those tales as motivation on themselves.
Either way, it was unranked Grosse Pointe South that used the momentum it had gained just prior to the rains to tack on to its lead, and roll to an 8-1 win, ending No. 9-ranked Brownstown Woodhaven’s Cinderella season.
“It’s been more magical than anything I could ever ask for,” said South senior Cameron Shook, who held Woodhaven to just one run on eight hits in a complete-game win, just his second start back from a knee injury late in the regular season. “I mean, we did this — there’s no me, there’s no one singular person. We, as a team, accomplished what everyone thought was impossible for us to do.”
The Blue Devils (32-13), runner-up in 2014, will add the trophy to their Division 1 championship in 2001, a pretty incredible run for a team that had its top two pitchers hurt and out of the lineup late in the regular season.
“It’s been unbelievable the last few weeks. The funny thing is, I heard a comment from an opposing coach that the Grosse Pointe kids are soft, and the Grosse Pointe coach is the softest coach in the state. Well, they can say what they want about me, but don’t call my team soft. Because they’re not. They’re not soft. They’re just bull-dogged, they’re confident. Their postseason run is like nothing I’ve seen in 35 years. Nothing I’ve seen,” said Blue Devils coach Dan Griesbaum, who has guided South to eight trips to the final four, three in the last five seasons. “This group, I’ve never seen a group play with more confidence than this one. Never.”
Even with Cameron Shook (dislocated kneecap) and Nathan Budziak (broken left thumb) on the shelf at the end of the regular season, the Blue Devils didn’t lack confidence that they could end up on the biggest stage.
“No. We never counted ourselves out. We would bring the juice, bring the energy. As long as we had that, we were unstoppable,” said Shook, who didn’t doubt his own return, either. “We had great pitchers step in, Joey Naporani. Our secondary guys that only play on the weekends — Jacob Finger, Ben Lemanski, Joey Ambrozy — just picked up the slack for me and Nick Budziak to really propel us to where we are now.”
The senior twosome came back with a vengeance in the postseason.
“He (Shook) came back during districts, threw four innings against Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett, the No. 2 team in the state, after we’re down 4-0. He shut them down. It got a little scary at the end, but he beat Liggett 6-4,” Griesbaum said. “Him and Budziak have been lights-out. Budziak’s at 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA in the post-season, and Cam has almost been as effective.”
Woodhaven (33-5) jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a solo home run in the first inning by Colin Czajkowski, but it wouldn’t last long.
Steven Cavera ignited South’s four-run third inning with a one-out double, but Woodhaven helped with a pair of errors that prolonged the frame. The Warriors chose to intentionally walk Davis Graham with a base open, and face Anthony Dermanulian with the bases loaded.
It backfired, as the 6-3, 250-pound first baseman crushed a double to left-center, clearing the bases, and making it 4-1.
“I thanked him I don’t know how many times for coming back (to the team). He’s going to play football in college (at) Lake Forest in Illinois. I told him we needed some power — we didn’t have any power numbers last year at all — somebody that’s going to hit the ball out of the park, and he’s second on our team in RBI to Graham,” Griesbaum said. “It was the right thing to do. Graham is our best hitter, second and third are open, and it was the right thing to do. He’s not a Dream Teamer for nothing. He’s a first-team all-state (player), and Dream Teamer. You had to walk him. You have to let someone else beat them.
“And (Dermanulian) just put a hurt on one, and that was a key in the game, right there. Those three runs were key, really key.”
It was a huge breath of relief for Shook, who had to then wait out the rain delay before retaking the mound.
“(Dermanulian) is a god. He’s a guy that you’ll always want when you’re down 1-0, and there’s people on, you want him to knock in a big one, and get the energy going,” Shook said, downplaying the impact of the delay. “It’s like a TV for me. As soon as I get up, I press pause, I take a quick break, and then I come back, and it’s the same thing.”
The Blue Devils added two runs in the fourth and two more in the sixth, helped by three Woodhaven errors, to pad the lead.
“We just needed to go out there and play hard, and some of the bounces didn’t go our way. We didn’t play particularly well, so we didn’t deserve to win today,” Woodhaven coach Corey Farner said. “I’m very proud of them, the effort they put into it, and the ride they took us all on, it’s been amazing. I told them, win or lose, I’m going to love them, no matter what.”
The Warriors did indeed have a historic run, considering the program hadn’t won a district before this season.
The pitching combo of Czajkowski (Michigan) and Drew Szczepaniak (Western Michigan) — who helped the Warriors set a state record with 60 straight scoreless innings pitched earlier this season — were the workhorses on the unprecedented run, and Woodhaven will graduate seven seniors in total.
But there are still plenty of reasons for optimism.
“It’s just a step in the process. We’ve had very successful run the last four years, record-wise. This year, obviously this group was pretty special,” Farner said. “We’ve got a lot of young kids on this team still, so the future is bright. I think this is just another step in the process to get to where we want to be, and that’s ultimately state champions.”
Riverview Gabriel Richard 3, Madison Heights Bishop Foley 0 — Matthew Silka struck out seven and allowed just one hit over seven shutout innings, as No. 5-ranked Richard (29-3) beat fellow Catholic League powerhouse Bishop Foley (19-18-1) to prevent the Ventures from a repeat, and earn its first championship.
Hayden Flynn drove in two runs and David Zubor another, as the Pioneers picked up single runs in the second, third, and fourth inning, and Silka, who had a no-hitter entering the seventh, made it stand up, tossing the fifth one-hitter in MHSAA championship game history.
Beal City 10, Unionville-Sebewaing Area 0 — Brett Upton tossed six scoreless, one-hit innings, striking out eight, and Beal City blew it open with eight runs in the sixth inning to end Saturday’s title game against USA early under the mercy rule.
Colby Berryhill drove in three runs for the Aggies (23-8), while Lucas Schumacher and Keegan Haynes had three hits each, as Beal City won its fourth state title, and first since 2010.