BATTLE CREEK — For four innings, Glen Lake played with fire.
Then, the roof caved in, and it spelled the end of the Lakers’ best baseball season in more than a decade.
Beal City took advantage of Glen Lake’s wildness and sloppiness Friday in downing the Lakers 15-0 in a Division 4 state semifinal game at C.O. Brown Stadium.
The Aggies, 35-2 and ranked third in the state coaches poll, will play Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett (30-4) today in the title game. Liggett defeated New Lothrop 1-0 in Friday’s other state semifinal.
Glen Lake, which was ranked 12th, finished 28-8.
The Lakers trailed 1-0 through four innings, and managed to stop Beal City threats in each of the first four frames. The Aggies put a runner at least as far as second base in each of the first four innings, but Glen Lake slipped off the hook each time with a timely strikeout or defensive play.
Then, in the top of the fifth, the damn burst.
Beal City took advantage of four walks, two hits (one of which was a blooper over Glen Lake’s drawn-in infield), a costly error, and a hit batsman in sending 10 men to the plate in scoring five runs to extends its advantage to 6-0.
The Aggies sent 14 to the plate in the sixth, using four more walks, another hit batsman, another error, and three hits to tack on nine more runs.
“I think more than anything it was just a lot of mistakes that we did to ourselves, which would have been the last thing that I would have expected,” Glen Lake coach Kris Herman said. “We came in here with a definite plan and we were following it and it was working well, but that’s the game. I would have never seen any of that coming, but it is what it is.
“We did too many things to ourselves today and Beal City forced us into a couple things and it was too much for us to overcome.”
The Aggies finished with 10 hits and took advantage of 11 walks issued by five Glen Lake pitchers, starter Austin Odziana, Zach Cooper, Thomas Waning, Curtis Bunek and Riley Scanlon. The Lakers finished the game with four errors.
Glen Lake managed just two hits, a double by Odziana and a single by Tristan Williams, off of Beal City starter Ryan Marshall.
Marshall struck out eight and walked five. He did not allow a hit after Odziana’s lead-off single in the second.
The loss was not at all the way Herman and his players had envisioned their season ending after they won the school’s first baseball regional championship — and earned its first trip to the state final four in Battle Creek — since 2004.
“These kids have fought through a lot of stuff this year and this was just a little too much this time,” Herman said. “Right now, nobody’s in a mood to hear about it, but when they get settled in and … there’s a lot to celebrate on the year — a lot of good things that happened. We’ll talk about those things tomorrow, when we get there.
“This hurts them right now, and it’s going to linger, but I’m proud of my guys. They put themselves in a great position.”