GAYLORD — Gaylord St. Mary doesn't plan on this being a short trip.
The Snowbirds baseball team aims to make this year's trip to East Lansing more than a one-day affair.
St. Mary advanced to its fourth straight Division 4 state semifinal, which is tied for the most consecutive in state D-4 history, along with Frankfort, Hillman and Bay City All Saints.
"I don't want to be there just to give a team a good showing," said GSM head coach Matt Nowicki, whose squad dropped a 7-3 decision to Beal City last season.
The Snowbirds (26-5) play Petersburg-Summerfield (26-4) in Friday's 2:30 p.m. semifinal at Drayton McLane Baseball Stadium on the campus of Michigan State University.
St. Mary's six final four appearances — the Snowbirds made it to the 1988 and 1989 state finals — is tied for fifth most in state history.
Nowicki said he expects this team not to take this opportunity for granted, especially because the Snowbirds don't have a senior in their starting lineup.
"I think sometimes it kind of gets lost on them," Nowicki said. "You can't plan for next year. You can't even count on that. Maybe someone moves. Maybe someone transfers. You have to play for now, play for today."
Starting second baseman and pitcher Joseph Moeggenberg won't be allowed to play Friday because of his ejection from Saturday's regional championship against Johannesburg-Lewiston for running over Cardinals catcher Dan Runyan. Moeggenberg also had to miss the Snowbirds' Super Regional win over Norway.
Runyan stayed in the dugout after the play at the plate, but was hospitalized after the game with facial fractures and sinus injuries and may not be able to play football next season, Joburg athletic director Joe Smokevich said.
Nowicki said he talked about the incident with the team at practice Tuesday, the first time they've been together since Saturday's games in East Jordan. They spent five minutes discussing it, along with Moeggenberg, who has expressed remorse and said he apologized to some J-L team members Saturday, then focused on baseball.
"We've responded great," Nowicki said. "We're going to lift him up and move on from here. It's a learning experience for all of us, really."
Sophomore Conrad Korte will start in Moeggenberg's place at second base, and junior Brad Kihn takes Korte's place in right field. Moeggenberg could be able to play in Saturday's 5 p.m. championship game if the Snowbirds get past Summerfield.
The Bulldogs boast a powerful offense that has produced slightly more than St. Mary's this season.
Summerfield averages 12.5 runs a game this postseason, reaching double digits in every game but an 8-0 district final against Adrian Lenawee Christian. The Bulldogs have given up only two playoff runs in seven contests.
Summerfield is led by four hitters batting over .400, highlighted by Derek Clark, who is hitting .494 with 44 runs scored and 52 steals in 54 attempts. The junior left-hander is also the Bulldogs' top pitcher, with a 12-0 record and 0.22 ERA to go along with 105 strikeouts and only seven walks in 63 innings.
But he's not all the Bulldogs have. Ethan Eyler (.418, 37 RBIs, 18 steals, four home runs), Mark Keller (.415, 26 RBIs, 10 steals, three homers) and Brendan Dafoe (.402, 32 runs, 18 steals) also lead the offense, and Devin Albain is hitting .381. Summerfield hits .349 as a team, while their pitching staff holds the opposition to .172.
The Snowbirds counter with a potent lineup that includes Brady Hunter (.427, 33 RBIs, 47 runs, 25 steals, three HR), Drew Koenig (.400, 37 RBIs, six triples), Alex Pudvan (.356, 35 RBIs, three homers), Andrew Zielinski (.356, 39 runs, 25 RBIs, 14 steals) and Steven Koscielniak (.330, 25 RBIs, 33 runs, two HRs, 13 steals).
Koenig (11-4, 2.56 ERA) gets the start.
Nowicki said his junior-laden team experienced lots of "shock and awe" in the team's first of four semifinal appearances in 2016, but that should be gone by now.
The Snowbirds played games at Dow Diamond and Comerica Park this season, something that should make the team even more at home at the expanse of McLane Stadium.
"There's nobody in the state that has more experience than us," Nowicki said.
Saginaw Nouvel (14-16-1) and Decatur (32-6) face off in the 5 p.m. semifinal.