Traverse City Record-Eagle

June 12, 2013

Lakers reach semis for 1st time since 2001

By JAMES COOK
jcook@record-eagle.com

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — It's back to Battle Creek for Glen Lake.

The Lakers will return to Cereal City for the first time since 2001 after an 8-3 Division 4 baseball quarterfinal victory Tuesday over Atlanta at Traverse City West.

Glen Lake (28-7) takes on Beal City in Friday's 5 p.m. semifinal. The Aggies (20-2) defeated defending state champion Decatur 3-2 in extra innings Tuesday.

"We're trying to treat everything as all business as much as we can," Lakers coach Kris Herman said. "Guys are pretty excited. I may not act like it, but I am excited about it. But I've got to be a calming influence on the guys. We can celebrate tonight, and tomorrow we have to go back to work to put our best foot forward Friday."

Glen Lake was down 2-0 after three innings, but broke through with a six-run fourth inning to take the lead for good.

After Thomas Waning and Trevor Apsey pulled off a successful double steal, an Austin Odziana single down the third-base line put the Lakers in a 2-2 tie. Kyle Kulanda was hit by a pitch to load the bases, and Curtis Bunk walked to drive in a run. Then three consecutive hit batsmen by Huskies pitcher Garrett Badgero put Glen Lake up 6-3.

"They made us struggle quite a bit," Herman said. "Badgero pitched a phenomenal ball game, and I think he just ran out of gas. I know he pitched a lot on Saturday. If he had a full tank, I think the result might have been quite different.

"I don't know it was as much what we did, as much as us taking advantage of mistakes they were making. That's not to take anything away from us. It's just the reality of it. They made things a little easier for us in that inning. It wasn't until a little later in the game where we made some things for ourselves, and by then they had dug themselves a pretty good hole."

Atlanta's Jacob Chambers — the Huskies' No. 2 hurler — was ejected from Saturday's regional final and subsequently couldn't play in Tuesday's quarterfinal. So with Badgero struggling, the Huskies turned to junior Josh Barrett, who induced a pop-out to end the inning. He tossed another scoreless frame before Apsey tagged a sixth-inning pitch to the fence for a two-run triple and an 8-3 lead.

In the seventh, Atlanta (24-3) threatened, putting the first two batters aboard before Waning picked off Barrett at second for the second out.

"It feels amazing," Waning said of making the semifinals. "It's been our goal all year, and we've finally achieved it."

Waning also had a heavy workload last Saturday, but rebounded with a quality outing Tuesday as the home-plate umpire had a very generous strike zone for both squads.

"It was fair for both teams," Waning said. "But it was easier for the pitchers because the strike zone was bigger. I could work with more stuff."

Herman said the team's mental toughness was on display when Atlanta led 2-0 and the Lakers hadn't generated much offense through three frames.

"We were disciplined at the plate to not get rattled," Herman said. "And another thing that worked was just being steady. We got down 2-0, and it was looking pretty tough. But the guys don't bat an eye. They stay pretty steady through just about any storm, and they did this time, too."

Now the Lakers move on to face Beal City, which won back-to-back state titles in 2009 and 2010.

"We've got our work cut out for us," Herman said. "But like I've said, in the state tournament you only have to be better than them once. You only have to play baseball a little better one time."