EAST LANSING — Travis Pant was relieved to have lost the coin toss.
The coin-toss winner gets to choose whether they're the home or away team, and the Petersburg-Summerfield head coach wanted to be the away team in Friday's Division 4 state semifinal against Gaylord St. Mary at Michigan State University.
The Bulldogs won first coin toss and would have simply chosen to be the road team, contrary to the usual tactic.
But the toss hit a coach's leg and had to be re-done. St. Mary won and chose to be home for the first time in the school's four straight Division 4 semifinal appearances.
The Snowbirds had lost the last three Final Four entries — always as the road team — so GSM went against that tradition and chose to be the home team, even after winning the second toss.
Pant was relieved.
"That's been our mantra when we play — hop out on teams," Pant said. "It helps your pitcher settle in."
The Bulldogs went on to win 5-0, moving on to play in Saturday's championship game for the first time in school history. The loss leaves Gaylord St. Mary looking for its first baseball state championship next season, when almost all of the Snowbirds roster returns.
"This stings a little bit," St. Mary head coach Matt Nowicki said. "They're probably more resilient than I am. I'm probably sulk for a couple days."
Petersburg-Summerfield got hopping right away, with leadoff hitter Brendan Dafoe singling to left field and Derek Clark reaching on a bunt. Both would come in on an Ethan Eyler single.
Dafoe ended the contest 3-for-4, leading off the first, third and fifth innings with singles and scoring a run each time.
"I was just sticking the bat out there," Dafoe said. "It's all confidence. Coach preaches getting on the other team early and once you do, it gets going."
The Snowbirds' junior-dominated lineup managed two hits and four base-runners against Summerfield starting pitcher Brock Olmstead, who struck out five over seven innings. Drew Koenig and Logan Murrell each had hits, Steven Koscielniak drew a walk and Brady Hunter reached on the game's only error.
"We didn't get hits when we needed them," Nowicki said. "Our defense was really good. ... We saw exactly what we thought we were going to see."
St. Mary (26-6) has played at MSU each of the last four years, and Summerfield (27-4) knew the Snowbirds had that experience in hand coming into Friday's matchup.
"This stage, I knew wasn't going to get to them," Pant said. "Se we would have to get to them."
Dafoe and Clark each had three hits and Eyler drive in three runs. The bottom five in the Bulldogs' lineup didn't gather a hit.
"It was the top of the lineup that killed us," Nowicki said.
Koenig went the distance for St. Mary, allowing nine hits and five earned runs, striking out five.
Nowicki wasn't looking ahead to the 2020 season, even though four straight semifinals will lead to expectations for a fifth with largely the same squad.
"Next year we'll take care of next year," Nowicki said. "We'll plan to be back here again next year."