The deepest-ever postseason run for Schoolcraft baseball ended Friday at Michigan State University, as the sixth-ranked Eagles lost 3-2 in eight innings to top-ranked Traverse City St. Francis in a Division 3 semifinal. Schoolcraft finishes with a record of 25-11, with St. Francis moving to 38-3 and to Saturday’s championship game against Madison Heights Bishop Foley.
The Eagles struck first, ending the Gladiators’ postseason shutout streak in the bottom of the first inning. Nolan Anspaugh led off with a triple and was brought in on a ground-out by Ricky Clark. St. Francis grabbed the lead in the top of the third on two hits and two walks, with a Keaton Peck single scoring Aaron Simon and Artie Dutmers. Schoolcraft tied the game in the bottom of the third with a one-out Nolan Anspaugh double setting up a sacrifice fly from his brother, Caleb.
The game stayed locked at 2-2 through regulation, despite Schoolcraft loading the bases in the fifth and seventh innings and getting two hits and a walk in the fourth. Both starting pitchers went 6.2 innings, leaving the game because of the pitch count. For St. Francis, Conner Sweet entered with bases loaded and closed the door, then kept Schoolcraft from scoring despite a walk and single in the eighth. In the top of the eighth, the Gladiators used a walk, interference, and hit batter against Darren Kehoe to load up the bases and get a sacrifice fly, as Cooper Peterson brought home Gabe Callery.
“We had opportunities that we just not able to take advantage of today,” said Schoolcraft coach Larry Phelps.
It was final game for much of the Eagle roster, as 11 seniors graduate.
“They’re going to be hard to replace. Probably one of the best baseball classes to ever come through our school. Tough act to follow.”
Blake Bales went 6.2 innings for Schoolcraft, allowing three hits, two earned runs, and three walks, with nine strikeouts. Bales fanned five of the first six batters he met. St. Francis starter Joe Muzljakovich in his 6.2 innings allowed seven hits, two earned runs, and six walks with four strikeouts. St. Francis moves to the championship at 2:30 p.m. Saturday against Bishop Foley from Michigan State. Listen back to Friday’s semifinal below: