By Mike Mattson

Dom DeTorres wanted the baseball Tuesday in Muskegon Catholic Central’s Division 4 state quarterfinal game against Harbor Beach.

So MCC coach Steve Schuitema gave the ball to DeTorres, who pitched six solid innings in the Crusaders’ 5-2 win at Saginaw Valley State University.

“I talked to him coming off the bus,” Schuitema said. “He looked me in the eyes and said, ‘I want the ball.’ Dom pitched an absolute gem. It’s the best command he’s ever had with his curveball.”

“Yes, I wanted the ball,” said DeTorres, who allowed four hits, struck out four and walked three. “I felt great. I was confident I would throw a good game. I was mentally ready for this one.”

DeTorres did his part to keep the Crusaders in the tight game. They eventually rallied from a 2-0 deficit and pulled away with five runs in the bottom of the sixth inning.

“I knew sooner or later we’d get the bats going,” said DeTorres, who only pitched 26 innings this season. “It all turned out well.”

The Crusaders (26-8) will take the next step toward a state championship when they face Decatur, a 6-0 winner over Concord in another quarterfinal game.  The semifinal game is 11 a.m. Friday at C.O. Brown Stadium in Battle Creek.

Grosse Pointe University Liggett and Rudyard make up the other semifinal matchup. The state championship game is set for Saturday at 9:30 a.m. in C.O. Brown Stadium.

MCC is making its first trip to the Final Four since falling to eventual state champion Rochester Hills Lutheran Northwest 4-0 in the 2004 semifinals.

Harbor Beach (23-7) took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning and stretched the margin to 2-0 in the top of the sixth inning.

MCC finally got going on offense in the bottom of the sixth inning and erupted for five runs off Harbor Beach ace Jason Hanson, who no-hit the Crusaders through five innings. He struck out seven batters through four innings and finished with a six-hitter and no walks.

Adam Callow, Zach Huston, Jason Ribecky, DeTorres, Alex Lewandoski and Tony Pearo each had a hit in MCC’s big sixth inning.

Ribecky laced a two-run single, Lewandoski executed a perfect squeeze bunt and Pearo delivered an RBI single. Stuart Winters also knocked in a run with a sacrifice fly.

“(Hanson) was the best kid we saw all year,” Schuitema said.“He had a slider or curveball that was very good. He’s the real deal.”

Connor Seymour came on in the seventh inning to relieve DeTorres, who allowed a walk and double. Seymour kept the Pirates off the scoreboard and struck out the heavy-hitting Hanson to end the game.

Schuitema knows the Crusaders will face their biggest challenge yet on Friday.

But he will have freshman lefthander Nick Holt rested after throwing 130 pitches against Beal City in Saturday’s regional and Seymour ready to go on the mound, too.

“Everybody is obviously thrilled,” Schuitema said about the trip to the Final Four.

“I’ve said it all year that I love our team. Not once has a kid asked me this season for their batting average or earned run average and I find that incredible. This is a very unselfish team.”