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Burney's Bites will focus primarily on the local preps sports scene, but will also touch on some college and pro athletics, mostly in regards to athletes who hail and have played high school sports in Oakland County. My goal for the blog is to be conversational and anecdotal, a more relaxed and free formal take on high school athletics than you see in regular game day coverage.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

CC Heartbreak


Catholic Central's Late Rally Falls Short in 5-2 Loss To Number One-Ranked Warren De La Salle in the CHSL Baseball Tournament Semi-Finals

Special to The Oakland Press

While most of the student body at Novi Detroit Catholic Central resides at the school's campus off Wixom Road, its baseball team has been spending the spring as full time-residents of heartbreak hotel. With ten of their 14 losses resulting from relinquishing leads in the fifth inning or later, the Shamrocks have experienced their share of despair this season. 

The team's bad luck continued on Thursday afternoon as Catholic Central took a 5-2 defeat at the hands of Warren De La Salle in the Catholic League Baseball Tournament semi-finals. Rallying late to pull even at 2-2 in the sixth inning and then having runners on second and third with the meat of their order coming to the plate down three in the seventh, ultimately, the Shamrocks ran out of gas. Once again, however, a gruesome twist of fate crept its way into the story-line of the team's loss. As Catholic Central's hard hitting-clean up batter, Keenan Hart, sat on deck, De La Salle, ranked number one in Division I, ended the game on junior outfielder Steve Laudicina's diving catch in deep left-center field that robbed the Shamorcks' Steve Harding of a two-run RBI. 

"I told the guys after the game, this De La Salle team is probably the best team in the state, so don't hang your heads," said Shamrock's head coach, Kevin Walters, whose squad drops to 14-16 on the year. "But at the same time its hard for everybody because we keep on dropping these close ones that we know we should be winning for ourselves. I know the catch on the last play hurt, but if we would have taken advantage of loading the bases in the fourth, maybe we wouldn't have been in that spot for the kid to make that play. Its really a matter of finishing, and we've struggled with that this season. 

Despite the disappointing loss, Walters is still proud of his team's effort. "This league is just so tough. There are no days off and from top to bottom every team can hurt you. The team played super hard. They always do. We just need some things to fall in our direction and lately, it seems like they haven't been. But we'll be alright. This team is made up of a bunch of fighters. You're upset about the loss, yet at the sa me time, you're proud of the way they scrap. I truly tip my hat to all of them because it hasn't been the easiest season to endure."

De La Salle jumped ahead quick, taking a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning lead on a run scoring-triple by senior Jim Martinez and a throwing error by Catholic Central. Tim Dezelski's RBI single in the top of the sixth tied the game for the Shamrocks at two runs apiece. But De La Salle came back strong in the bottom of the inning and plated three runs to take a 5-2 advantage heading into the seventh. The Pilots' Mike Schwpanski delivered the game-winning RBI with a single that made it 3-2.

Senior Alex Pierse went six innings of work to get the win on the mound for De La Salle, which improves to 23-5 overall on the season. Contributing a solid outing, Pierse scattered five hits, while only allowing one earned run and striking out eight. Cameron Walker pitched the final inning for the Pilots, surrendering a lead-off hit, but closing the game out and picking up the save. This is De La Salle's first trip to the Catholic League Baseball Tournament championship game since 1997.

"This team is real deep and has a lot of talent," said De La Salle head coach, Brian Kelly, in his 25th year in the dugout for the Pilots. "All my seniors are genuine leaders on the field and everyone has an excellent attitude and gets along in the dug out. The baseball instincts the se guys have is very high for the level they're playing at. Its a fun group to coach and an exciting group of players to watch. Confidence is abundant on this team. And in turn, that gives me confidence in them and in myself as a coach."


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