TRAVERSE CITY — Glen Lake baseball coach Kris Herman said you need three things to win a state title: Pitching, good defense and the ability to scrape out runs.
A fourth factor doesn’t hurt: Luck.
“I don’t know of too many state champions that haven’t had a little bit of luck along the way,” Herman said.
The Lakers (28-7) are two wins away. They play a Division IV semifinal against Beal City (34-2) at 5 pm. today in Battle Creek with the winner to advance to Saturday’s 6:30 p.m. title game.
Beal City got a little luck of its own Tuesday, knocking off defending state champion Decatur on a balk in extra innings.
Glen Lake beat Atlanta 8-3 in its quarterfinal Tuesday.
“Our coach told us after we beat Grayling at (Traverse City) St. Francis that we’d go to Battle Creek,” Lakers starting pitcher Thomas Waning said. “It became our determination — and we’re going.”
The Lakers arrived in Battle Creek on Thursday afternoon, walked the grounds and field at CO Brown Stadium and then had a practice at Battle Creek Pennfield.
“I’ve seen it a couple of times, so I don’t get too awed by it,” Herman said. “For the guys, the biggest thing is walking to your position and going through the good visual mental reps of seeing yourself making good plays from your position, just going to the places you’re going to be in the game and get a feel for what it’s like to be there.”
Beal City’s baseball team won the school’s sixth regional crown of the year. But none of the previous five sports ended up winning it all.
The Aggies won back-to-back Division IV crowns in 2009 and 2010, falling in the 2011 semifinals. They come into today’s contest riding a 16-game winning streak.
“They’re going to be very tough,” Herman said. “They’re very aggressive on the bases. It’s going to take our best baseball, but we knew that with anybody we were facing down here.”
Glen Lake has been to the semifinals six times, but not since 2001. However, this isn’t the first time for this type of pressure for Waning, who has been in the state ski finals three times.
“I feel like this is a bigger stage, though,” Waning said. “It’s as a team, and skiing at least for me, was individual.”
Herman said he’s undecided on whether Waning (10-4) will start today or not. He’ll be limited to 10 innings of work combined for the weekend. Beal City will likely counter with either Ty Rollin (10-1, 1.13 ERA, 74 strikeouts in 55.2 innings) or Ryan Marshall (8-1, 1.66, 45 K in 50.2 IP).