• Michigan

No. 3-ranked Grandville makes No. 2 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s pay for mistakes, leaving the door cracked open

By: Matthew B. Mowery, April 5, 2019, 10:30 pm

ORCHARD LAKE — When you leave the door cracked, a good team is going to kick it open, almost every time.

Grandville took advantage of a couple of innings extended by Orchard Lake St. Mary’s miscues, using a pair of big blasts — a grand slam by Jake Paganelli and a three-run shot by Landon Poll in a two-inning span — to fuel a 13-6 win in Friday’s non-conference match-up of top-five teams.

“Yup. That’s absolutely correct. One through nine in their lineup, they’re strong. Eight seniors in their lineup, and when you give them extra outs, or extra bases via passed balls, walks, they’re going to take advantage,” St. Mary’s coach Matt Petry said. “And they certainly did that with a three-run homer and a grand slam.”

The Bulldogs (2-0) were ranked as Division 1’s No. 3 team in the Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association’s preseason poll, while OLSM (3-4) was ranked No. 2 in Division 2. Fresh off spring break, the Grandville squad made a road trip to the east side of the state to take on a couple of tough non-conference opponents. They’ll face D2’s No. 11 team, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, on Saturday.

“All the boys got back into town yesterday (Thursday), and we’re getting rolling again,” said Grandville coach Matt Cook, whose team opened its season with a 6-2 win over Grand Rapids South Christian nine days earlier. “We had a really good practice yesterday, and we wanted to come play some really good competition — that’s why we wanted to come over and play some of the teams from the east side, with great tradition like Orchard Lake St. Mary’s. I know Matt does a great job here. Then Notre Dame Prep, and get it rolling back on our side of the state. …

“Just playing good baseball this time of the year.”

The Bulldogs jumped ahead 1-0 on a second-inning sacrifice fly by Caleb Sheehan, but St. Mary’s evened it up with a bases-loaded walk by Alex Mooney in the bottom of the inning, and took a 4-1 lead with three runs in the bottom of the third. Grant Henson singled home one run, then another scored on a squeeze bunt by Jack Crighton and the third when the Bulldogs misplayed a sacrifice bunt attempt by Ryan DuSang.

Grandville put up a six spot in the fourth to take a 7-4 lead. The Bulldogs got back-to-back RBI singles by Sheehan and Tate Peterson to bring it within one run in the bottom of the fourth, then Poll drew a walk to load the bases for Paganelli, who cleared them with a no-doubt blast.

Harrison Poeszat’s two-run home run for OLSM in the bottom of the inning got it back to a one-run game, but that was when the Eaglets left the door open.

“We were right back in it. We get two outs, and we get a ground ball to second base, and we kick it around. Next guy up hits a three-run homer,” Petry said. “That’s four runs that shouldn’t be up there — if that’s a 7-6 game, I have confidence in our bats to be able to come back from that. But when you start putting crooked numbers up on the board, it’s tough to come back from, against a very good baseball team.”

Poll’s laser shot home run made it 10-6, and earned him hoots of ‘Where’d THAT come from?’ from teammates awaiting him at home for the celebration.

“Jake Paganelli is kind of our returning, middle-of-the-lineup guy that we know has that potential and pop, to hit doubles in the gap, put balls over the fence,” Cook said. “Landon Poll, on the other hand, it’s a little atypical of him, but I love seeing it out of him, because he’s a senior that’s worked his butt off. And I think we’re going to see a lot of that from him this year, so I’m not shocked by it.”

The Bulldogs added solo runs in the sixth — a walk that scored on an error — and seventh — an error that scored on an other error — to pad the lead to seven runs.

Playing good teams that will make you pay for mistakes is what sharpens potential contenders, though. And that’s why both squads were there Friday.

“It’s no secret the way I construct a schedule for us. We want to play the best teams early in the season to prepare us for league play, and to see good lineups and good pitcher early, that way nothing’s a surprise when you see it league play, or come the state tournament,” Petry said. “We played a very good Grandville team, a very good Woodhaven team, and a very good Rochester team, and we’ve come up short in all three games, but we’ve played well in a lot of portions of those games, but we’ve gotta learn how to win. And with a younger roster, I think we’ll be able to figure that out.”