NORTHERN SHARES MAC BLUE TITLE WITH SAINTS FOR 2ND CONSECUTIVE YEAR
By Randy Castro
After dropping the first game of a three-game series against Port Huron Northern 11-1 on Monday, the Saints needed nine innings to hold off the Huskies 9-8 Wednesday to have a chance to play for a share of the MAC Blue title.
By the time Thursday rolled around, St. Clair wasn’t about to waste any more time.
The Saints jumped out to a six-run lead and rolled to a 9-1 win over the Huskies in the series finale to earn their share of the conference crown.
“We were so mentally out of it on Monday and then Wednesday, — to be down three separate times and come back, today was just a continuation of that,” St. Clair head coach Denny White said. “This group doesn’t know how good they are. It’s backward from how it usually is.”
Ian Janssen went 3 for 5, including a triple out of the two-hole in the victory. Cam Jabiro finished 3 for 4, all singles to help pace the Saints offense.
Gherig Anglin went 2 for 3, including a double; Max Gottler finished 2 for 4 with an RBI.
It marks the second consecutive season that the two teams share the MAC Blue championship.
White said his team turning a corner offensively helped pave the way for its recent run of success. Early on the year, the Saints head coach took issue with how passive his players were at the plate.
“I think it’s part of our growth,” White said. “Once we started to swing the bat, it clicked.”
Gottler earned the win from the mound, allowing one run on two hits over 4 2/3 innings. The freshman struck out four and walked three.
“He doesn’t have a lot of innings yet,” White said. “We wanted him to go four or five…he just did a fantastic job.”
Nolan Shagena suffered the loss for the Huskies, pitching four-plus innings.
Austin Howard led Northern at the plate, going 2 for 2 with a walk.
“We struck the ball well,” Port Huron Northern head coach Bob Kearns said. “Some of those balls got caught in the teeth of that wind. Now, that’s no excuse to not put more together, but sometimes that can be a little defeating.”
The Saints jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first half-inning, providing Gottler with more than enough run support out of the gate. St. Clair tacked on two more in the fourth and another pair in the fifth. By the time Northern took its at-bats in the fifth, they were facing a six-run deficit.
Kearns credited St. Clair’s resiliency throughout the series.
“They earned their way into the share of the title,” he said. “They looked ugly one game, we looked ugly one game and we beat the hell out of each other in the middle game.
“It’s a balanced conference with the two of us fighting for it. Now our next goal is to win the districts.”