By: John Raffel
DeWitt baseball team falls in semifinal round
DeWitt’s baseball season came to a disappointing halt in a 3-1 loss to Saginaw Swan Valley on June 14 at Michigan State in the Division 2 state semifinals.
But there was plenty for Panther coach Alan Shankel and his team to feel good about.
In the first five games of the playoffs, the Panthers had 4-0 and 10-0 wins over Lansing Catholic and Lansing Eastern in the districts and topped Fowlerville 6-1 and Parma Western 4-0 in the regional.
Next up was Tecumseh in the quarterfinals and the Panthers won 4-0.
Garrett Lerner just fell short of a no-hitter for DeWitt. Jace Preston drove in a key run for DeWitt.
Tecumseh’s Will Sparrow singled up the middle with one out in the seventh inning for Tecumseh’s only hit. DeWitt scored in the fourth on Preston’s single and a RBI double by Kade Preston. The Panthers scored three in the fifth on a three-run home run by Nolan Knauf.
The season ended at 27-7 with the loss to Swan Valley in the semifinals, despite an incredible pitching performance from Knauf who, in six innings of work, allowed only two hits, but three earned runs, while striking out five.
But Swan Valley scored all three of its runs in the first inning. Knauf retired the last 17 batters in a row, but the damage had been done.
“We just had that one bad inning with a bad choice trying to go to two rather than getting the out at one,” Knauf said. “It definitely was not our best game. One inning cost us here.”
In the top of the sixth, Knauf doubled and scored for his team’s only run.
“I thought we were knocking on the door all game long,” DeWitt coach Alan Shankel said. “We just failed to get that one big hit that would have maybe ignited things. They made plays on us too. Their pitcher did a great job and they made plays behind him.”
DeWitt ended at 27-7. It was a season Shankel won’t soon forget.
“We were right there,” he said. “These guys four years ago were watching from the stands for another team that got there. We’ve been knocking on the door for a long time. They saw this was possible and had that dream. A lot of credit to them to get to where we got. They’re obviously disappointed right now. It takes time to appreciate it, but they will.”