By Jason Goorman
For MCC Coach Steve Schuitema and his team, a 9-1 win over Potters House did the trick.
The Crusaders utilized three different pitchers to combine for 13 strikeouts, but their tendency to walk batters was an area of concern for the veteran MCC coach.
“This (win) is great and I’m thrilled for the kids that we won,” said MCC coach Schuitema. “But we have a lot of work to do in the next couple days.”
The Crusaders didn’t waste time putting runs on the board to back up their pitchers. Max Price hit an RBI single in the first inning to drive in Carson St. Amour for a 1-0 lead.
MCC’s Gabe Flood loaded up the bases in the second inning with no outs on a bunt single between the pitcher and third base, moving over Nolan Convertini and Tommy Kartes.
After a pop out and a force out at home plate, MCC had one more chance. Max Price was able to put MCC up 2-0 after getting hit by a pitch, but that was all the damage the Crusaders managed to do.
“We stole a few bases tonight, that’s what we do a little bit of,” said Schuitema, whose team reached the district finals after a 6-3 win over Holton on Sunday. “I was a little disappointed with our bats with runners in scoring position, and we have to play better in those situations.”
MCC added another run in the third inning on a Flood sacrifice fly, scoring Navarre Klint.
The Crusaders added three runs in the fourth inning and three more in the fifth with a few hits and a lot of Potters House errors, and that was all they needed.
The Crusaders were led at the plate by Price and Clint with two hits apiece, while Josh Holden added a double.
Combining to get the job done on the mound were pitchers Nolan Convertini, Carson Bleicher and Klint. Convertini and Klint both pitched two innings and had four strikeouts apiece, while Convertini struck out five over three innings.
“Navarre came in and was pretty effective at the end, except for the one inning where he walked a couple,” Schuitema said. “We were still walking too many guys, and that’s something we have to get away from.”
MCC (27-2) will play Three Oaks River Valley in the regional semifinals on Wednesday at Holton High School.
The weekend rain that delayed progress of the district tournament prompted Schuitema to use three pitchers on Monday and squeezed MCC’s pitching rotation heading into regionals.
“The rain delay hurt us over the weekend,” the coach said. “We’ll be missing our ace (Price) and I’m sure we’ll be facing theirs (Three Oaks River Valley) on Wednesday.”
Price can’t pitch Wednesday because he threw 105 pitches in the win over Holton. The MHSAA’s pitch count rule calls for a three day rest when a pitcher throws 75 or more, so the Crusaders will have to rely heavily on their other three pitchers again on Wednesday.