HARTLAND, MI – Rochester Adams knew it was in for a dogfight Saturday afternoon in the regional semifinals.
Facing a tough Hartland team, throwing in its ace Jake Lowery, the Highlanders were almost up to the challenge. They tied the game 2-2 in the bottom of the fifth on a sacrifice fly from Corey Clemons.
Adams starting pitcher Sean Beyer matched the Michigan State commit Lowery pitch-for-pitch up until the sixth inning, when he gave up a double to Marcus Ziebold.
After advancing to third on a fielder’s choice, Ziebold came around to score the go-ahead run when Spencer Wright hit a deep sacrifice fly to centerfield.
“We got to where we wanted, got back even with them, then they answered back and that’s what good teams do – they find a way and take the momentum right back,” Highlanders coach Jeff Hall said.
The Eagles (20-15-1) would add an insurance run in the seventh inning to advance to the regional finals with a 4-2 win.
“My offense has been picking me up all year,” Lowery said, smiling. “Going into the game, I knew if we were down, we would come back and they would pick me up.”
Hall credited Lowery for pitching a fantastic game – the junior only allowed two hits, struck out nine and didn’t walk a single batter over seven innings – but he thought the biggest factor in the game was his team’s spotty defense.
With both teams committing three errors, neither played a great defensive game. The difference came in the late innings when Hartland third baseman Travis Johnson made two spectacular diving stops to keep Adams off the base paths.
“He’s been pretty solid all year,” Lowery said. “He really came through for me, and that’s what every pitcher needs. As long as a pitcher has defense he can just relax and pitch up there.”
For Beyer, it was the opposite. When he gave up a triple to Lowery with one out in the seventh, his third baseman fumbled a ball that would’ve kept it a one-run game. Of the four runs Hartland scored, only its run in the fifth was earned.
Beyer gave up only three hits in seven innings, striking out four and walking six (two intentionally).
“Sean Beyer did a tremendous job, giving up only the three hits, and competed all day long,” Hall said. “We just didn’t get the job done.”
Hartland went on to the regional finals where more solid pitching helped them reach the quarterfinals for a second straight year with a 6-0 win over Lake Orion.
Jacob Jessen and Corey Lewandowski combined for a two-hit shutout. The Eagles scored two runs in the first inning and added four in the fifth to put the game out of reach.
Hartland will play Warren DeLaSalle on Tuesday at Madison Heights Bishop Foley with a start time of 4 p.m.