By JAMES COOK firstname.lastname@example.org
Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — A little rest in between outings usually doesn’t hurt.
Just ask Trent McDougall.
The Traverse City West left-hander hadn’t thrown in a game for three weeks, yet was locked in when called upon in Wednesday’s Near-Far All-Star Game at Traverse City Central.
Team Near won 6-3, with McDougall coming on to pitch scoreless seventh and eighth innings as his team took the lead with Bellaire players providing two clutch hits in a three-run eighth.
“I pitched pretty well three weeks ago when I pitched,” McDougall said. “It’s pretty cool just being able to be out here. And then being able to pitch that well in this kind of thing is great.”
The Titans leaned heavily on Walt Borkovich in their district championship run, so McDougall was fresh when called upon. He struck out four of the eight batters he faced.
“It was very nice to go out with a win,” McDougall said. “And it was nice to go out with most of our seniors on our team. We had five out of our seven seniors here. As a team, I think all five of us represented West really well.”
The all-star game features top seniors from northern Michigan from Manistee to Alpena, split up by proximity to Traverse City.
Pitchers controlled much of the game, until Near broke loose for three runs in the eighth to take the lead.
TC Central’s Mitch Brien walked and teammate Jansen Shea singled to get Near in business. Then Bellaire teammates Drew Bailey and Wes Villafane came up with the game’s big hits. Bailey smacked an RBI double and Villafane followed with a two-run single.
“It was a fastball right down the middle and I turned on it,” Bailey said. “This was the big hurrah. It was fun. It’s good to go out with a win.”
“We’re lucky we got back-to-back in the batting order,” Villafane said. “I think him getting a good hit really made me get a good hit. It got the momentum going there.”
Near tied the contest in the seventh on a Borkovich RBI single that scored West’s Donny Cizek.
“As all-star games go, this is a lot of fun,” said Suttons Bay assistant coach Keven Cross, who finished the game in place of Doug Periard, who had to leave mid-game to coach his daughter’s team. “Our dugout had fun. It helped at the end when they needed some clutch hits. They were loose. They’re good kids and they had a blast.”
“When they were mildly ribbing Walt in the first (inning), it kind of let everybody know, ‘Hey, we’re having some fun.’ Doug and I made a point to the kids at the beginning, it’s about the kids and we’re going to get out of the way. You play baseball. And they did — and they performed.”
Charlevoix’s Tommy Zipp pitched the first two innings for Far, striking out five of six batters. East Jordan’s Matt Bolser tossed two scoreless frames with three strikeouts.
Borkovich gave up a run in two innings of work with one strikeout. Jake Kiessel came on to fan three in two frames.
Zach Hill earned the save with a scoreless ninth, aided by catcher Alex Crocker throwing out the second runner of the day for Team Far attempting to steal. Benzie Central’s Nick MacGirr had the other and also picked a runner off first.
Shea was 1 for 1 with a walk for Near, while Suttons Bay’s Jessie Fox didn’t have an official at-bat, but was on base twice. He walked and was hit by a pitch.
The Far squad held a 3-2 lead after six innings. Alpena’s Mitch Skiba scored in the second on a hit by Roscommon’s R.J. Frederickson, Alpena’s Zach Nash came across in the fifth and Frankfort’s Brennan Flynn drove in Brethren’s Abner Lopez with a sixth-inning single. Near countered with a two-run fourth as McDougall scored on a passed ball Kingsley’s Micah Weesner doubled in West’s Collin Bush.
Flynn and Nash were the only players with multiple hits, both collecting two singles.