The Hackett Catholic baseball team earned its first district crown since 1988 Friday at Climax-Scotts, surviving a 10-inning pitching duel with rival Kalamazoo Christian in the District 116 final for a 5-0 win. Both starting pitchers had stellar outings, denying numerous scoring opportunities throughout the first nine innings. Hackett’s Adam Wheaton went eight innings, allowing six hits with 11 strikeouts. He was pulled due to the pitch count, with Joe Carr completing two perfect innings of relief.
K-Christian’s Jared Dirksen went 9.1 innings, finally reaching his pitch count after allowing a lead-off single in the top of the tenth. From there, the fourth-ranked Irish scored five runs thanks to two more hits, one walk, an error, and two wild pitches from reliever Travis Pease. Nick Maztak’s 3 RBI double to end the frame gave Hackett an emphatic 5-0 lead. Dirksen finished with one run allowed, seven hits and six strikeouts.
“(Wheaton) left it all out there,” said Irish coach Jesse Brown. “Joe Carr came in, did a great job in the end. I never had a doubt.”
Hackett moves to 25-4 with the victory and their 16-1 beatdown of Bellevue in their earlier district contest, putting the Broncos at a final mark of 10-20. The Irish now hold a 15-game win streak, aided by an odd “good luck charm,” a ceramic rooster.
“The chicken runs at midnight,” said Brown, noting the Major League origin story behind the phrase. “We’ve had a lot of adversity with some deaths in our baseball family with two parents. It’s something to rally the guys around. We have not lost a game since we introduced the rooster.”
Brown also coaches the Kalamazoo United co-op football team, featuring players from both schools. It creates an interesting dynamic along with a great rivalry, which the Comets had gotten the better of during basketball season. The game also fittingly ended with a putout by Wheaton, who had moved to right field after leaving the mound.
“Last out, I looked over to Maztak in center field and I was like, ‘dude, this ball’s coming to me,'” said Wheaton.
The Irish advance to next Saturday’s Regional 29 tournament in Decatur and will face the District 114 winner at noon. Kalamazoo Christian finishes at 21-13, having won in eight innings over 11th-ranked Climax-Scotts earlier in the afternoon, 6-5.
The Comets started ahead with three runs in the first inning and one in the third. The Panthers used two in the fifth and two more in the sixth to force extras. A Nathan Vickery RBI triple put them ahead in the top of the eighth, but three hits in the bottom of the frame and aggressive base-running at the end from Alec Corwin gave Kalamazoo Christian two runs and the win. Climax-Scotts ends their season at 20-5.
Listen back to Friday’s district 116 games below:
HACKETT CATHOLIC VS KALAMAZOO CHRISTIAN
KALAMAZOO CHRISTIAN VS CLIMAX-SCOTTS
HACKETT CATHOLIC VS BELLEVUE
Listen live online Friday via Michigan Sports Radio and the Slocum Sports Network to all three games of the MHSAA District 116 baseball tournament at Climax-Scotts High School. The district features three teams above 20 wins and two ranked in the latest Division 4 coaches poll. The tournament begins at 11 a.m. with fourth-ranked Hackett Catholic against Bellevue. Game two is set for 1:30 p.m. between 11th-rankd Climax-Scotts and Kalamazoo Christian. The winners meet at 4 p.m. with the champion advancing to next week’s Regional at Decatur.
Last season’s District 116 final saw Hackett Catholic fall to eventual quarterfinalist Centreville 4-2. Centreville is in a different district this year, with Climax-Scotts moving into 116 after claiming District 117 last season. The Irish enter as the favorite by ranking and by overall record at 23-4, opening against the 10-19 Bellevue Broncos. The second game sees a 20-4 Panther squad against a 20-12 Comet team. Climax-Scotts swept Bellevue in the regular season, but didn’t play either Hackett or K-Christian. Meanwhile, the Comets and Irish met thrice, splitting a doubleheader at Kalamazoo Christian and with a Hackett win in the City Tournament.