TRAVERSE CITY — When two schools featuring Louisville pitching commits meet for the first time in their high school careers, one might have walked up to the diamond at Traverse City West expecting a dominant pitcher’s duel.
That wasn’t exactly how it went down — at least for one half of the doubleheader.
West’s Wyatt Danilowicz threw a 17-strikeout no-hitter against the Trojans for a 4-1 win, then Central’s Josh Klug took the mound in relief to hold off the Titans offense with the bases loaded twice for a 7-4 win in the back half of the doubleheader.
In 20 years of the Patrick Murchie Memorial series there has never been a tie. TC West and TC Central split the series and were even in runs at eight.
The seniors from each school took a picture with the trophy together at home plate.
Since the Trojans last won the trophy in 2019, it stays housed at TC Central for the third straight year. There was no baseball season in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Come districts, however, there’s no such thing as ties. The two schools have met in the postseason the last five seasons (the last two were district finals).
“Maybe,” West coach Matt Bocian said. “We have Alpena, they have Mt. Pleasant.”
Danilowicz and Klug, both of which can throw in the low-90s, pitched in separate games.
Danilowicz walked his first batter, Luke Linder, pitched to a bunt from Dominic Palamara, then struck out the next eight batters.
When the Titans got up to bat, it didn’t take very long to light up the scoreboard. Sam Reynolds hit an RBI single in the first inning to send home Charlie Jeffrey and it was nearly two runs. Aidan Rapin was tagged out at the plate.
Four runners got on base the rest of the game for Central. Palamara walked once and reached first on a dropped third strike. Will Dawson drew a walk, as did Paco Haas later that inning. Dawson scored on a catcher overthrow to third base, an unearned run for Danilowicz.
Danilowicz, a junior ranked as the No. 7 recruit in Michigan by Prep Baseball Report, has allowed just four hits this season to hold a 0.70 ERA. He’s struck out 47 and walked nine.
But Danilowicz shook off the “rough” inning at the plate. With the Titans leading by one, Danilowicz hit one high that fell just at the center field warning track, the start of a two-run inning for some insurance.
West took a three-run lead into the seventh and Rapin grabbed the final out in left field.
“Basically I was throwing fastball and then I’m going to the curveball,” Danilowicz said. “A lot of them were behind the fastball. So there’s really no reason to come up with a change-up so they were right on time with that.”
Danilowicz said a fastball was his go-to pitch, clocking 87 mph on his best pitch, according to coaches. A few hit the dirt, but Danilowicz said that’s the zone he was looking for. “A lot of them swung and missed at it in the dirt,” he said.
Danilowicz said the win over TC Central is “just another game.”
“I go up there and just play ball and do my thing,” he said. “And then defense, good thing they were there for me, did their job. We got to win. No hitter doesn’t really matter as long as we’re winning. That’s all that matters.”
Aidan Dungan finished game one 3-for-3 for the Titans, followed by Reynolds, who went 2-for-3 with two runs and an RBI. Baylor Baldwin and Charlie Jeffery each scored runs.
The nightcap was threatened by a sunset on a light-less field amid a tie game going into the seventh inning, but the Trojans finished on a three-run rally to never surrender the lead and split the series.
TC Central scored three early runs with Reynolds pitching for West, then added another in the fourth after a pair of West runs in the first and second innings.
Klug took the mound in relief of Alex Schmitt at the top of the fifth, sending in the tying run on a double from Rapin with runners on second and third. That brought Danilowicz to the plate with Klug on the mound — and it didn’t last very long. Danilowicz was intentionally walked on his final two at bats, both to load the bases.
The bold move worked. Klug struck out Reynolds to take the game to the seventh inning, and Central’s Reed Seabase opened it on a double. The Trojans scored three off RBI hits from Schmitt and Josef Meyer, then Klug retired the side in the bottom of the inning to end the game earn the win.
Seabase finished the game 2-for-2 with two runs and an RBI. Klug, Linder, Schmitt, Will Dawson and Owen Dawson each scored runs for TCC.
“Reed ripping a double, that was just amazing for the team and for the rally,” Klug said. “We just got it going and it’s been amazing.”
Klug said the decision to intentionally walk Danilowicz was more on his coaches, but it worked out for the better. The at-bat would have been the first time the two would have been matched up with each other in high school because Klug, the sophomore hurler, missed his freshman season because of the pandemic.
“We’ve just been friends forever,” Klug said. “And we’ve been working out, we’ve been doing baseball things forever. We hit during the winters, we throw during the winters. We hang out. It’s just brothers, honestly.”
Central (16-2) was dealt its first Big North Conference loss this season. The only other loss it had was in a tournament to DeWitt. West (10-6) has a BNC loss to Petoskey.
The Trojans travel to Midland Saturday, West hosts Byron Center Saturday.