By: John Raffel
Midland relishes baseball run to semifinals
For Midland baseball coach Eric Albright, winning a regional title was sweet.
Winning the quarterfinal was sweeter.
Taking a semifinal win would have been the sweetest taste yet.
It was fabulous season for the Chemics, who lost 10-0 to Grosse Pointe South in the state semifinals, but the journey to Michigan State was still a lot of fun.
Getting the regional title wasn’t easy. Midland edged Saginaw Heritage 1-0 in the regional semifinal game, which went eight innings, then edged Davison 3-2 for the title. Garrett Willis out-dueled Saginaw Heritage ace Spencer Schwellenbach in the second semifinal.
“The regular season prepares us for the postseason,” Albright said after the regional title game. “What does this mean to our program, to advance to the quarterfinals? It means the world to our program. We’ve won a lot of baseball games and have lost some heartbreakers over the course of the last few years. Our team deserves to be here. We deserve to be in the quarterfinals.”
Midland proved that with an excellent quarterfinal effort and a 4-1 win over West Ottawa, putting the Chemics in the Division Final Four.
But it was all Grosse Pointe South in the semifinals with a 10-0 win, ending Midland’s season at 30-12. South defeated Brownstown Woodhaven in the title game 8-1. Midland trailed South 2-0 in the top of the sixth when the roof caved in and GPS scored eight runs. The game ended after six innings.
Jeff Landis, Jack Bringard and Tim Hackbart had one hit apiece for Midland. Garrett Willis went the first five innings and allowed six runs on 10 hits.
“Against a good team like Grosse Pointe South, we needed to play a perfect game, and didn’t,” Albright said. “With a lineup such as theirs, they’re going to make you pay. We didn’t put much pressure on their defense. Their pitcher threw strikes and didn’t give us any free bases.”
But the loss did not take away the fun of getting a quarterfinal win.
“Our pitchers were very efficient in that game,” Albright said. “We threw less than 70 pitches in a seven-inning baseball game. They threw strikes and forced West Ottawa to put the ball in play and we made all the defensive plays. That’s a pretty good formula for winning a baseball game, throwing strikes and picking up ground balls’
“Credit Liam Grady and Jeff Landis for giving ourselves a chance to win it. We capitalized on a couple of miscues. What we did to them is what they couldn’t do to us. We put the ball in play. All four of our runs were scored with two outs. We scored with two outs when they weren’t able to.”
Midland’s season ended at 30-12