By: John Raffel
Swan Valley loses to Lakeshore in D2 finals
Defense is so critical in every sport and Swan Valley’s baseball team didn’t quite have the defensive game it preferred in a 6-3 loss to Stevensville-Lakeshore in the Division 2 state championship game at Michigan State on June 16.
Otherwise, it was a terrific season for the Vikings, who ended at 33-9-3 following a 6-4 loss to Lakeshore.
“We were pretty sold up the middle with a real good shortstop (Mitchell Jebb) and a real good second baseman (Cameron Schroeder),” Swan Valley coach Craig Leddy said. “We’re young, but we take a lot of reps, ground balls and flyballs to the outfield. We take a lot of (batting practice) every day. We kept getting better, especially in the outfield. At the start of the year, we needed work in the outfield. Then it started to click. They worked hard and got into it.”
The Vikings needed one more win for the state crown but fell short.
The Lancers and Vikings each had 11 hits but the Swan Valley was guilty of four errors. Lakeshore built a 6-0 lead before the Vikings scored one run in the bottom of the fifth and two in the seventh. Swan Valley’s bats did get rolling with Cameron Schroeder, who had three hits and Victor Mancini and Easton Goldensoph contributing two apiece. Goldensoph had a two-run double to keep the Vikings alive. But one batter later, the game ended.
“We didn’t play a clean game,” Leddy said. “We had two base running mistakes when we got picked off of second. And we had runners on first and second. We had nobody out and the top of the order coming up and they picked us off. They were a very good team. You could tell they had been there before. We didn’t play a clean game. We still hung in there and kept battling.”
Swan Valley used five different pitchers including Brian Ross, who was the starter and left the game after the third inning.
The Vikings got to the title game with a 3-1 victory over DeWitt in the semifinal round. The Vikings scored all the runs they would need in the bottom of the third and DeWitt wouldn’t score until the top of the sixth. Neither team made an error, and DeWitt had a 6-2 edge in hits. But Swan Valley had its only two hits in that inning. Easton Goldensoph was hit by a pitch with the bases full. Logan Pietz had an RBI single. The third run scored on a wild pitch.
Schroeder and Pietz had the only hits for Swan Valley.
Avery Goldensoph had a huge game on the mound going all seven innings, scattering six hits, walking two and striking out five.
“In pitching, we’re young but we’re really deep,” Leddy said.
The state semifinal game was “our best defensively we played, Leddy said. “Their pitcher retired 20 of 21 after we got three runs across in the first inning. We took advantage of their mistakes. That’s what we did pretty much all year. If they give us something, we’re going to take it. We had enough defense, and pitching usually held up.”
Top hitters this season were Mitchell Jebb, who made the all-state team, and Brian Ross, who played left field and pitched and first baseman Victor Mancini. All are sophomores. Avery Goldensoph, who made all-state honors, was the top pitcher.
Leddy had been an assistant for 12 years at Swan Valley and this was his first year as head coach.
“I have a lot kids coming back,” Leddy said. “With the experience we have coming back, I hope to make a deep run like we did this year.”