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Alpena falls again in baseball district final
POSTED: May 31, 2009
By MICHAEL WIGMAN
News Sports Writer
The Alpena Wildcats baseball team got over one hump in the first round of a Division 1 baseball district on Saturday by defeating Traverse City Central 9-3, only to run into a bigger one named Traverse City West in the final.
For the third year in a row, the last two to Central, the Wildcats (19-11) lost in the district championship game, falling 5-0 to the Titans at Alpena High School.
Three things killed the Wildcats' hopes at capturing a district crown; the left arm of Titans pitcher David Coors, a long rain delay that came in the third inning and never allowed Alpena to gain any momentum at the plate and an MHSAA rule that only allows pitchers to be on the mound for 30 total outs in district play.
The rule came in to play mightily for Alpena as senior right hander Adam Crowell threw a complete game four hitter with five strikeouts and no earned runs in the opener, therefore only allowing him to pitch nine outs in the title game. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, they badly needed Crowell versus West, as title game starter Greg Baranyai just wasn't quite on the mark. Baranyai gave up three first-inning runs on three hits and a fielding error, and with the well rested Coors on the mound - thanks to a first round bye the Titans were awarded in a blind draw - it was all the runs the Titans needed.
Crowell did everything he could though, pitching 10 innings of one-run ball over the course of the two games before striking out the last batter he faced. He left to a standing ovation with tears rolling down his face with one out in the top of the sixth inning and the Wildcats down 5-0. Even though they still had time to mount a comeback, there was a feeling in the air that Alpena couldn't. Coors was nearly unhittable, as he threw five innings of four-hit ball with four strikeouts and no extra base hits.
The Titans opened the title game with two singles off Baranyai, and a fly out to put runners in scoring position with one out. Brett Kenny sent a rocket back at the mound that Baranyai made a nice play on. When Baranyai fielded the ball Grant Durga was on third base and found himself 20 feet off the bag and caught in a pickle. When he retreated back to the base, Baranyai quickly decided to try and get Kenny out at first. The throw was way off the mark though, and the ball rolled to the baseline fence as both Durga and Matt Beem ran home for the 2-0 lead. After a balk moved Kenny to third base, Kevin Kreta brought him home with a groundout.
West added two more runs in the third inning with back-to-back triples. The hits chased Baranyai from the mound and brought Crowell into the game. He allowed a sacrifice grounder to Coors to make it 5-0, and walked one more batter before the game was paused due to lightning. By the time the teams came back out over an hour later, Alpena had no offensive rhythm and Coors and the Titans were well on their way to victory.
T.J. Hoes was 2-for-3, Ryan Rivette was 1-for-3 and Jason Kendziorski was 1-for-3 for Alpena. Kenny was 3-for-4 and Kreta was 3-for-4 with two RBIs for West.
In the opening game, Alpena jumped ahead 3-0 over Central off an RBI single in the first inning and a two RBI triple in the third, both by Kendziorski. A disastrous bottom half of the third saw the Trojans score three runs off no hits and five fielding errors in a row to tie the game up at 3-3.
The game would stay that way until Alpena would ring up six runs in the top of the fifth. The Wildcats loaded the bases off three consecutive singles with no outs. Ben Gould quickly cleared them when he ripped a high fastball to the left field fence for a triple and a 6-3 lead. A two RBI single by Jon Zawacki and a sac fly by Hoes would finish up the scoring for Alpena.
Kendziorski was 3-for-4 with three RBIs, Gould was 2-for-4 with three RBIs and Zawacki was 1-for-3 with two RBIs and three runs for Alpena.