Oakridge baseball team in Division 2 state semifinals after two big wins on Saturday

LocalSportsJournal.com

The Oakridge baseball team reached the Division 2 state final four with a pair of huge victories on Saturday at Saginaw Valley State University.

The Eagles unloaded on Cadillac in the regional championship game, walking away with a 16-1 victory in three innings.

Jalen Hughes, Austin Fairchild and Ethan Miller all had three hits. Miller scored three runs and Hughes and Fairchild knocked in four and three runs, respectively. Jaxon Fri and TJ Ruel added two RBIs apiece while Ruel pitched the three-inning win on the mound.

The well-rested Eagles then managed to sneak past Essexville-Garber 2-1 in a state quarterfinal game at the same site, later in the afternoon.

The quarterfinal game was a pitcher’s dual between Koleman Wall of Oakridge and Tommy Szczepanski of Essexville Garber. Wall allowed one run on four hits and two walks while striking out six. Szczepanski allowed two runs on two hits while striking out five and walking two.

The Eagles took advantage of opponent miscues in the first inning to score both of their runs. Mason Wever, pinch-running for Wall, moved around the bases on an overthrow error and scored on a bad throw that short-hopped the catcher.

One batter later, Blake Masterman scored on another infield error, giving the Eagles a 2-0 lead at the end of the first. Essexville-Garber scored its only run in the top of the second on a walk,  a passed ball, and a sacrifice fly.

The Dukes loaded the bases in the top of the seventh with two outs, but Austin Fairchild made a spectacular play up the middle for the Eagles to snuff out the rally. Fairchild dove to tag the bag and force out the runner at second, barely beating him and ending the game.

With the victory, the Eagles moved one step farther in the state tournament than they did last year, when they lost in the quarterfinals.

Oakridge will now play Orchard Lake St. Mary’s in the state semifinals at Michigan State University on Thursday at 2:30 p.m.

 

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