By Steve Gunn
Muskegon Catholic’s Nick Holt did just that on Saturday, and he couldn’t have been more happy if he had pitched a no-hitter.
Holt, a two-time All-Stater playing in his final high school game, hung tough on the mound despite giving up hit after hit to Centreville on Saturday in the Division 4 state finals at Michigan State University.
He was particularly cool in the top of the seventh, when Centreville rallied for three runs and threatened to tie or take the lead in the final inning.
Holt also led with his bat, collecting three hits and three RBIs, including a very big run producing triple in the sixth inning.
In the end his efforts helped the Crusaders capture a 10-8 victory and the first state baseball championship in school history.
Holt and several of his teammates also experienced the rare thrill of winning two state titles in the same season. The Crusaders won the Division 4 state football championship in November, which was their second in a row.
“I’ve never given up more than 10 hits,” said Holt, who threw 114 pitches in the game while striking out four and walking one. “They really smashed the ball. I felt I had my good stuff for the most part. I was throwing strikes.”
Holt said his teammates motivated him as the hits piled up and the game got tough.
“It was just knowing that this is a lot bigger than me, knowing that this had never happened before at Muskegon Catholic Central, knowing there are eight guys behind you working their asses off trying to accomplish the same thing” he said.
“The best way to get through something like this is to not think about yourself, but the guys next to you.”
MCC Coach Steve Schuitema said there was never any serious thought about pulling Holt from the mound.
“If you would have told me we would have needed to score 10 runs to win I would have said you were crazy, but they squared up on Nick better than anyone has all year,” said Schuitema, whose team finished the season 39-1-1.
“But (Holt) wasn’t coming out. We never even had anyone else warming up.”
The Holt family actually had two heroes on Saturday. Junior catcher Jacob Holt was not playing at full strength, due to a nagging hamstring injury, but he still managed to match his brother’s exploits at the plate, delivering three hits and five crucial RBIs.
Brothers Anthony Woodard and Dominic Woodard, along with Zack Winzer and Devin Comes, had the other base hits for the Crusaders, who were outhit 17-10 in the game.
The game did not start out promising for MCC, with Centreville taking a 2-0 lead in the first inning and a 3-2 lead in the third.
But MCC kept fighting back, scoring twice in the bottom of the first, three times in the third, three times in the fourth and twice in the sixth, to secure the win.
Nick Holt and Winzer each scored three runs while Anthony Woodard added two and Eli Flood and Nate Jones each scored one.
The Crusaders benefitted from four Centreville errors.
MCC went into the bottom of the third trailing 3-2, then took the lead for good.
Anthony Woodard led off with a single, Winzer added a double, then Nick Holt greeted Centreville relief pitcher Mike Kool with an RBI single to knot the score at 3-3.
Jacob Holt followed with an RBI groundout to first, but an errant throw to third base on the same play allowed another Crusader to cross the plate, making the score 5-3.
MCC added three more runs in the fourth inning.
Comes led off with a single, Winzer walked, then Nick Holt hit a single to short right field. The throw to the plate looked like it would gun down Jones, who was pinch running, but the ball got away from the catcher, allowing Jones and Winzer to cross the plate.
Jacob Holt followed with an RBI base hit to make the score 8-3.
Centreville scored twice in the top of the sixth, then the Crusaders answered in the bottom of the inning with two runs of their own. Anthony Woodard made it to first on a Centreville error, took second on a pass ball, then scored in an RBI triple by Nick Holt.
Flood, pinch running for Nick Holt, then scored on an RBI single by Jacob Holt, making the score 10-5.
Centreville made the Crusaders sweat a bit in the seventh, getting three runs with two outs on four straight hits. But MCC second baseman Zach Huston knocked down a ground ball and made the throw from his knees to get the third out and clinch the title for the Crusaders.
Jalen Brown had four hits for Centreville.