• Michigan

Woodhaven sets scoreless innings record, wins first district, looks to advance past regionals

By: Tom Markowski, June 8, 2018, 10:07 am

Click above to watch the highlights of the Woodhaven vs. Carlson baseball game from April

Brownstown – It never dawned on Corey Farner that his Woodhaven team was about to set a state record, had already set a state record or even had a chance at setting a state record.

All he knew was that his club was playing the brand of baseball he and his staff had hoped they would when the season started.

Woodhaven is one of the best-kept secrets in the state this season. Part of that is the fault of the program. The Warriors never won a district title until last Saturday when they defeated Temperance Bedford, 8-4, in a Division 1 final. Last season Bedford eliminated Woodhaven, 7-4, in a district final so there was a bit of a payback this time.

But this season is much more than getting past Bedford. And it’s much more than Woodhaven winning its fourth consecutive Downriver League title. It’s about making a name, statewide, for the program.

Before this season Homer held the record for holding its opponents scoreless at 44 innings. Homer increased that scoreless streak to 48 this season.  

During this time Farner started to think about how well his team was playing and the number of shutouts his staff was stringing together.

“In the middle of it, I really didn’t think about it too much,” he said. “And it was kind of a good thing. We didn’t have that pressure we would have had we’d known. The kids didn’t even know about it.”

Farner played baseball at Taylor Kennedy, also a member of the Downriver League, and coached there for six seasons before going to Woodhaven. Ironically, it was against Kennedy that Woodhaven recorded its seventh consecutive shutout, 6-0, and set the state record for consecutive scoreless innings at 53. The next game Woodhaven shutout Trenton to increase the scoreless streak to 60, where the record stands.

The next game the floodgates opened and the Warriors held on to defeat a good Melvindale team, 8-7. Two weeks later Melvindale surprised most baseball fans by defeating Dearborn Divine Child, 10-2, in a Division 2 district final. Divine Child has won five state titles. Melvindale has never played for a state championship.

Woodhaven has a strong and experienced staff. Drew Szczepaniak (6-4) is a hard-throwing lefthander who signed with Western Michigan. Szczepaniak has worked with Jeff Jones, the former major leaguer who was the Tigers pitching coach from 2011-15. Szczepaniak is 8-1 this season and 24-3 for his career. The 24 victories is a school record. His career ERA is under 1.00. This season Szczepaniak has struck out 100 in 57 innings.

Second in the rotation is junior lefthander Colin Czajkowski (6-3). Czajkowski is 5-0 with a 1.20 ERA and he committed to Michigan.

Behind the plate is Justin Charron, a senior and three-year starter. He’s batting .466 and has a team-leading 49 hits. Charron called most of the pitches during the season but Farmer is handling that responsibility since the start of the tournament.

Woodhaven (30-5) will play Dearborn Edsel Ford in a regional semifinal on Saturday at noon. Should Woodhaven advance it will likely face defending state champion Saline in a region final. Saline takes on Plymouth in the other semifinal. This regional is being hosted by Southgate Anderson.

“(Winning a district title) was a special moment for me,” Farner said. “We were 20-7 my first season here and it seemed every time we got to the tournament we faced some stud pitcher and got beat.”

Now it’s Woodhaven holding the aces.