HOWELL, Mich. - After his team came up a whisker short in a loss to top-ranked Homer in the Michigan Division 3 state baseball quarterfinals last night, veteran Blissfield coach Larry Tuttle had a fittingly brief description for the 1-0 pitchers' duel.
"Sometimes you get the dog, and sometimes the dog gets you," the 37th-year Royals skipper said. "The dog got us today."
That "dog" for the 36-0 Trojans was ace pitcher Joshua Collmenter, who was bulldog tough in striking out 13 and holding the Royals to one hit, a two-out double to left in the third inning by junior first baseman and leadoff hitter Justin Wilson.
"It was great pitching by a great pitcher," Tuttle said.
"[Collmenter] just threw a better ballgame than what we got today, and they got some kids in the middle of the lineup that got the timely hit and we didn't. But he had a lot to do with that."
Until the seventh inning, the only other slips by Collmenter (16-0) were a two-out walk in the first and two two-out walks in the fourth.
No Blissfield runner got past second base until two were out in the top of the seventh and a walk to sophomore center fielder Andrew Estes loaded the bases.
Nate Raburn had reached leading off when his ground ball was mishandled by Trojan shortstop Keith Thurston. Wil Faulkner reached with one out when Homer second baseman Charles Finch dropped a potential forceout throw from third baseman Dusty Compton.
After DH Ryan Eff fanned, the walk to Estes, on a 3-2 pitch, set the stage for Wilson, Blissfield's best hitter on the season at .411 with 21 extra-base hits and 38 RBIs coming in.
But Wilson grounded out to Finch for the final out, ending the Royals' bid for a third straight state championship and eighth overall for Tuttle (871-262-4).
"That was our chance to win the game right there," Tuttle said.
"Obviously [Collmenter] got a little tired, but he still had enough to get us out. Give the kid all the credit in the world."
Homer got the only run it would need after Royals ace Ryan Terry (9-3) struck out the first two Trojans in the second inning.
Catcher Dale Cornstubble doubled to left-center, Cody Collmenter walked and Brandon Gibson, the No. 9 batter in the lineup, came through with run-scoring single to center.
Terry fanned 11 and allowed only one other hit, a one-out double in the fourth.
"It's tough," Terry said. "You get in a game like that and you can't make any mistakes.
"I only gave up a few hits but they came at a bad time and they hurt me."