Wolverines capture league opener victory

The undefeated Wolverines baseball team captured the Easton Tournament crown last week, earned the number one ranking in the nation in the MaxPreps Top 25 and opened up their league season on March 16 by beating St. Francis 16-0.

“First league game we wanted to come out and play well,” Jack Flaherty ’14 said, “we executed well in all areas of the game, it was a good start for us”.

The win against St. Francis puts the Wolverines win streak at 14 dating back to last year as the team continued to rely on ace pitching and for the second straight game hit two homeruns. Flaherty pitched five shoutout innings, struck out 12 batters and hit a home run in the win. Shortstop Brian Ginsberg ’14 added four runs batted in and a home run of his own.

“I’m pleased with the way we are pitching and our offense has been consistent for the most part,” Coach Matt LaCour said, “our infield defense needs to improve, we need to clean it up”.

This strong pitching helped the team wrap up the Easton tournament title after beating Westlake, Birmingham, Moorpark and Chatsworth before outscoring West Ranch 6-3 in the championship game.

“I don’t expect anything other than the guys on the mound continuing to be aggressive,” LaCour said.
The squad rode the “aggressive” pitching performances of Flaherty, Michael Vokulich ’14 and Logan Simon ’14 in tournament play as they on average allowed only one run a game.

“Our pitching has done an unbelievable job so far, the entire staff, you know,” Ginsberg said we got a lot of guys who are really competitive on the mound and make really good pitches and you know, as a defense, when you see guys batting like that, it really makes you feel like it’s responsibility for you to back them up. So, we just want them to keep doing what they’re doing.”

The championship game, however, did not go off without any hitches as assistant P.C. Shaw and a West Ranch assistant were both ejected early in the game, forcing both coaches to miss their team’s next game.

Flaherty, the team’s number one starter and the reigning MaxPreps National Player of the year, threw a complete game shutout against Chatsworth.  Despite his strong performances and the Wolverine’s success in the tournament, no player on the squad was named to the all-tournament team.

“The bottom part of our order has done a really good job,” LaCour said, “Jackson Grayson ’15 and Cameron Deere ’16 have showed some consistency offensively that has been great to see”.

Deere, who has been starting for Flaherty at third when Flaherty pitches and has seen time on the mound himself, hit a three-run home run against Oaks Christian.  The Wolverines got more power hitting in this game as starting center fielder Grayson hit a two-run home run in the contest as well.  With Arden Pabst ’13 and Alex Horowitz ’13 graduated the Wolverines will need to replace a lot of the “pop” in their lineup, and continued hitting from Deere and Grayson will help fill that void.

“So far the seasons good our hitting has been good and our defense and pitching is coming through for us,” Deere said.  “Being a sophomore on varsity is intense because the coaches expect the same from you as they do from the seniors and juniors but I don’t think it really takes any of the sophomores by surprise it’s all about just doing ur part to help the team.”

Deere is not the only sophomore making an impact on this year’s team, John Thomas ’16 has started every game at catcher for the injured Matt Karo ’14.

“[Thomas] is a tough kid that has sacrificed himself for the good of the team,” LaCour said, “he is the epitome of a team player and his contributions are not unnoticed by our coaching staff and team. John has done an excellent job behind the plate”.

Jake Suddleson ’16 has been starting in left field and Paul Giacomazzi ’16 has seen time in the outfield for LaCour’s team as well.

“The seniors really helped all the sophomores with buying in to what wolverine baseball is and they add experience and maturity which I think is important,” Deere said.

Part of buying in, apparently, is dressing up as a team for away games.  The squad sticks to polos and khakis on the day of home games, but for away game they do themed outfits ranging from just overall whacky to “good vibes, keep it simple” themes.

“It is a fun way to build team chemistry, and it lets us feel like a team for the whole day before our game,” Simon said.

The “good vibes” and whacky attitude of the team won’t be questioned if the Wolverines can maintain their winning ways and meet their rather lofty expectations.

“I expect the guys to keep working hard, take care of their bodies, manage their time wisely, and come to the field ready to compete every day,” LaCour said.

The fields they will be going to will be crossing state borders into Arizona as the team prepares for their trip to Scottsdale to play in the Big League Dugout National Classic. Before the team leaves the state they will finish their series with St. Francis with an away game on March 21.

“Obviously, when you’re winning games, you gotta be happy,” Ginsberg said, “I still don’t think we’ve played our best baseball and I think that’s a good thing that we’ve been finding ways to win games without playing our best baseball so, you know, I just hope we can keep this competitiveness”.