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Pitching carries Heritage to Division 1 regionals

By: Tom Markowski, June 7, 2018, 3:48 pm

Saginaw – Bob Andrezejewski is combing through his 16-player roster at Saginaw Heritage in search of a few extra runs to supplement what has often been a hard-luck pitching staff.

Heritage hosted a Division 1 district last weekend and escaped with the title after defeating Flushing, 1-0, in the championship game. The Hawks (29-8) will play Midland (22-8) in a regional semifinal on Saturday at Saginaw Valley State at noon. Last season Heritage defeated Midland, 3-0, in a regional final to advance to a quarterfinal where it lost to Grand Haven, 2-0.

Andrezejewski, 71, spent his first 25 seasons coaching at Bridgeport, the last 22 as the varsity head coach. After taking a year off from coaching he took over the program at Heritage in 1996 and has been there ever since.

“An opportunity came at Heritage,” he said. “It’s in my backyard so I told them I’d do it for a year.”

So much for that.

Andrezejewski is one of four coaches, all of whom are active, to collect over 1,000 career coaching victories. Pat O’Keefe of Grand Ledge tops the list with 1,254 before this season. Andrezejewski is fourth with 1,056, a number that includes this season.

What has eluded Andrezejewski is a state title. In fact, he’s never coached in a state final. Three times he’s coached in a state semifinal.

The success his team has had this season is a bit of a surprise. Andrezejewski lost six senior starters to graduation but he does boast one of the state’s top 1-2 punch on the mound. Spencer Schwellenbach is one of the state’s top players and he signed with Nebraska. Brandon Smith is a three-year starter on the mound and he turned down scholarship offers from Division II schools and signed with Jackson Community College.

Schwellenbach is a 6-1 right-hander who is 6-2 with a 0.43 ERA. One of his losses came against Saginaw Valley League champion Bay City Western, 3-0. Schwellenbach gave up an unearned run in the eighth inning in his other loss.

He was in rare form against Flushing. Schwellenbach allowed a leadoff single then retired the next 20 batters, which included a double play in the first inning, for the complete game victory. He struck out 13 and scored the winning run in the fourth on a wild pitch.

“He’s the only player I have who could have scored on that play,” Andrezejewski said. “He got a great jump and he just barely beat the throw.”

Schwellenbach has five shutouts and four of those victories Heritage won by the score of 1-0.

He’s walked five in 49 innings and his fastball is consistently in the low 90s.

Smith is 6-5 and he, too, possesses a good fastball. He leads the team in hitting with a .420 batting average and plays first base when he’s not on the mound.

Its likely Andrezejewski will go with Schwellenbach against Midland and should the Hawks win that game Smith is expected to start in the final against the winner of the Davison-Traverse City Central regional semifinal.