By Terry Jacoby/weloveannarbor.com
The Skyline baseball team won a District title on Saturday but the way the Eagles won it goes beyond balls, strikes and especially outs. Because just when you thought this team was out of chances, they found a way to dig deep, persevere and do what they needed to do to get it done.
And there were so many examples during a long day of baseball.
First, they faced Huron in a semifinal District game at Dexter. The Eagles dominated their crosstown foes during the regular season with wins of 8-0, 13-9 and 15-4 on May 28. But this was the playoffs and everything was on the line and the Eagles were going to have to earn everything on this day.
Huron scored four runs in the third inning to take a 4-0 lead. But the Eagles battled back and scored four in the bottom of the fifth to take a 5-4 lead. Heading into the seventh, it appeared the Eagles would land in the championship game. But, again, Huron had other plans and scored the tying run in the top of the seventh to force “overtime.”
The game headed to extra innings and neither team could score for three innings – talk about pressure. Finally, Skyline’s Landry Jobe knocked in the game-winning run with a single in the bottom of the 11thinning to send the Eagles to the championship game.
Ryan Gensheimer worked 6.2 innings for Skyline, allowing four earned runs on five hits with five strikeouts. Robert Hamman went 4.1 innings and didn’t allow a hit or walk and recorded seven strikeouts in relief to get the win.
Jobe and Mason Johnson each had three hits while Eli Bishar had two hits and two RBI for the Eagles.
Skyline made four errors over the 11 innings while Huron had two defensive miscues.
Meanwhile, in the other semifinal game, the home team and talented Dexter Dreadnaughts were taking care of business. Dexter was facing Pioneer, a team they had defeated three times in the regular season but all in fairly close games – this was no layup for the Dreads.
The Dreadnaughts scored a run in the first and then added four more in the third. Pioneer scored a run in the fifth but couldn’t get any closer in a 5-1 Dexter win. The Dreads were far from perfect – they only had four hits and made three errors – but were in control from start to finish.
Cam Rosen pitched a strong game for the home team. He allowed six hits, no walks and fanned seven over seven to get the win. Braeden Fuson had two hits with a double and two runs scored and Cole Arnedt drove in three runs with a triple for Dexter.
So the Eagles had another challenge on their hands in the final – beat a really good team on their home field. And that was after playing 11 innings just a few hours earlier.
Dexter had swept Skyline in the regular season by lopsided scores of 6-1, 8-2 and 8-0 – but that was way back in the middle of April. This was June – and a District title was on the line so throw out the records and previous results.
After a scoreless first inning, Gensheimer delivered an RBI single to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead. In the bottom of the third inning, Bishar (two hits), Gensheimer and Jake Middleton all knocked in runs to give the Eagles a 4-0 lead.
But the Dreadnaughts came right back with two in the top of the fourth with RBI knocks from Davis Bennett and Ethan Hochendoner to cut the deficit in half.
The Eagles answered with runs in the bottom of the fourth and fifth to push the lead to 6-2.
Middleton went the distance for Skyline to earn the win. He allowed just two hits and two runs while striking out five.
Novara started the game for Dexter and allowed four hits and four runs over two and two-thirds innings, striking out three. Rosen and Hchendoner pitche in relief, throwing two innings and one and one-third innings respectively.
Both teams played better in the field – neither team had an error after combining for seven in the semifinal wins.
Skyline defeated Saline 8-5 in the opening game of District play.
The Eagles (17-14) head to Coldwater on Saturday to face Battle Creek Lakeview (24-6) in a Regional semifinal game at 5 p.m. The other side of the bracket has Monroe playing Woodhaven.