St. Francis squeaks out extra-inning 3-2 win over Schoolcraft
EAST LANSING — Although disheartened by the final outcome, the 10 seniors on Schoolcraft’s baseball team will look back on the 2017 season with fond memories.
Schoolcraft came up a game short in its Division 3 state title bid falling 3-2 Friday in eight innings at Michigan State University’s McLane Stadium.
Despite the heartbreaking loss, Schoolcraft (25-11) advanced the furthest of any Eagles’ baseball team in the postseason.
Larry Phelps’ ball club won a second straight regional title, never done before this season, and captured the schools’ first-ever state quarterfinal win and made its first semifinals appearance.
Traverse City St. Francis (38-3) advances to today’s state championship game against Madison Heights Bishop Foley (24-12-1) at 2:30 p.m.
Bishop Foley edged Caro (15-22) in the other semifinal.
Senior Blake Bales suffered the loss on the mound for Schoolcraft allowing three hits, three walks with nine strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings of work.
Bales, who will continue his playing career at Kellogg Community College, started off strong striking out five of the first six Traverse City St. Francis hitters he faced.
“I just went out there and tried to hit my spots. I knew our defense would make the plays behind me,” Bales said.
“I’m just so proud of these guys and what we’ve accomplished together these last four years. I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything.”
Eagles senior pitcher Darren Kehoe relieved Bales in the top of the seventh. Kehoe gave up one walk and had one strikeout.
Schoolcraft became the first team to score on St. Francis in the postseason.
The Eagles took a 1-0 lead after the bottom of the first. Senior centerfield Nolan Anspaugh roped a triple deep into right centerfield for the Eagles and scored on Ricky Clark’s groundout to second.
The Gladiators scored twice in the top half of the third to grab a 2-1 advantage. Sophomore Keaton Peck’s two-run single drove in Aaron Simon and Artie Dutmers.
Caleb Anspaugh, the Eagles’ senior catcher, hit a sacrifice fly that scored his twin brother Nolan Anspaugh in the bottom of the third, tying the game 2-2.
Schoolcraft stranded a total of 12 base runners, including a pair of runners in the fourth inning following a controversial call.
Eagles’ first baseman Collin Tone walked and was replaced on the base paths by courtesy runner Austin Edwards.
Edwards went to second on a fielder’s choice and he was ruled out after Kehoe lined out to the shortstop. The second base umpire ruled Edwards failed to tag up even though the throw by the Gladiators’ shortstop back to his second baseman was dropped when Edwards dove back into the bag.
Although visibly disappointed over the call afterwards, Phelps refused to use it as an excuse or blame the outcome on the rule.
“It was a great and well-played baseball game. I don’t think we made an error all day. We outhit them, but just couldn’t seem to get the crucial hit when we needed it,” Phelps said.
“I thought Blake (Bales) pitched a heck of a game for us. We had some situations today we couldn’t capitalize on. To beat good teams like St. Francis you have to be able to do that.”
Schoolcraft had the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth with two outs, but failed to score.
Please see Saturday’s Commercial-News print or e-edition for the full article.