Mitchell Hooven was roughed up Friday, but he still finished with a 13-1 record this season.
Robert Youngs/Special to the Bla Enlarge
BATTLE CREEK, Mich. - As the Mary Chapin Carpenter country song goes, "Sometimes you're the windshield. Sometimes you're the bug."
For much of the high school baseball season, the Bedford Mules needed lots of washer fluid en route to 38 victories.
In Friday's Michigan Division 1 state semifinals, however, hot-hitting Warren DeLaSalle was the windshield in a convincing 11-1 victory over second-ranked Bedford at Nichols Field at Bailey Park.
"I think we got a feeling of what some of the teams felt like when we hit the ball against them this year," said Bedford coach Craig Trychel.
The Pilots (35-5) banged out 11 hits, including three home runs. They ended things an inning early via the mercy rule when senior second baseman Jimmy Martinez slammed his second two-run shot of the game to right field with one out in the bottom of the sixth.
"They're a great baseball team and they did what they had to do," Trychel said. "You can't take anything away from them. They hit the ball, and they had great pitching.
"They've been hitting the ball like that all year long. I felt like our pitchers could shut them down if we kept the ball down. But they got a couple up in the air and drove them out."
The finishing touch was the 14th homer of the season for Martinez, and a school-record 49th round-tripper for the Pilots, who also got started on a long ball in the second inning after Bedford (38-3) had taken a 1-0 lead.
DeLaSalle shortstop Cameron Walker sparked a game-breaking five-hit, five-run rally by driving a 3-1 offering from Mules senior ace lefty Mitch Hooven over the fence in left.
The Pilots then combined four singles with a Bedford error to grab a 5-1 lead in the second, as Hooven needed 40 pitches to get through nine batters.
"[Hooven] was a real good pitcher, and we made him throw some strikes," Martinez said. "When he was down in the count and had to make a pitch, we capitalized. We swing the bat really well, and I think we played our best game, probably the whole year."
In the top of the second, the Mules, who managed just two hits off Pilot pitcher Steve Laudicina, took a brief lead.
They got a leadoff double from senior first baseman Talon Buck, who moved to third on shortstop Shayne Shroyer's groundout and came home on a perfectly executed squeeze bunt from second baseman Eric Ondrus.
Bedford's other hit was a fourth-inning double from Shroyer. The Mules' only true scoring threats after the second inning ended with runners stranded at second and third in both the fourth and fifth innings.
"[Laudicina] was good, but we didn't come to hit today," said Mules senior center fielder Nate Davis, who had nine homers and a school-record 63 RBIs this season. "They came out and beat us at our own game.
"It was a great season. We played as a team, and it worked real well. It had to come to an end at some point."
Hooven, who closed a terrific senior season with a 13-1 record, was touched for six runs on six hits in 21/3 innings before Shroyer relieved in the third.
Shroyer, who was 8-0 this season, didn't fare much batter against the Pilots, yielding five runs on five hits.
He served up Martinez's first two-run homer in the fourth after Laudicina's two-out single through the middle.
John Martinez, Jimmy's twin brother, followed with a triple and scored on Walker's single to make it 9-1 after four.
"They just came out swinging," Shroyer said of the Pilots. "That basically sums it up. They can hit, and we have trouble against lefties. [Laudicina] shut us down pretty good.
"We didn't expect them to put up 11 runs and hit three bombs. But, it happens, I guess. Now we just have a long 2 1/2-hour ride back home."
"It was a phenomenal season," said Trychel, whose Mules exceeded their best prior season win total by 12 and reached the state semis for the first time. "These guys earned the right to be here and had beaten everybody in their path to get this far.
"We lost to a good team, and there's nothing to be ashamed of. This has been a fantastic season, and these seniors have got to be proud of what they accomplished. They set a new standard for Bedford, and I'm proud of what they've done."
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