Prep Baseball Report

PBR Michigan Spotlight Game: #2 (D-1) Saline vs Pioneer

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By Dave Sontag
PBR Michigan Scout

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PBR Michigan Spotlight Game: #2 (D-1) Saline vs Pioneer

In an SEC diamond showdown, Saline used dominant pitching, clutch hitting – and a little luck to sweep Pioneer Monday, 3-2 and 11-1 on its home field.

Both teams entered the doubleheader clash with just one loss each in the SEC.

Junior Sean O’Keefe, on the heels of a perfect game last week against Huron, outdueled Pioneer’s Branden Knorr in the first contest.

It took an O’Keefe walk-off liner to left to plate junior Ryan Foley with the game winner in the bottom of the 7th.

O’Keefe and Knorr failed to disappoint baseball enthusiasts when the two big right-handers escaped several jams to keep their teams in the game. O’Keefe scattered nine hits and struck out eight while Knorr mixed his arsenal to keep a potent Saline team under wraps.

After his masterpiece last week against Huron, O’Keefe surrendered an infield hit by Knorr in the first inning on a ball that was lost in the sun.

After a walk to leftfielder J.G. Nwogu, Pioneer’s centerfielder John Kunec lifted a two-out fly to centerfield that was dropped for an error. Courtesy runner Mitchell Sapp scurried home to give Pioneer the first run of the game.

Saline rushed back to tie the tilt in the second inning when junior third baseman Jake Finkbeiner doubled to the leftfield fence. After a walk to senior Mike Schuby, senior right fielder Rich Hovde lined a single to right to score Finkbeiner.

The Hornets forged ahead in the 4th when Schuby doubled to right center with one out. With two outs, Hovde hit a high pop up on the infield. With the wind playing tricks all day, Knorr dropped the ball as Schuby rushed home to take a 2-1 lead.

The margin seemed safe as O’Keefe had settled in on the mound.

However, in the 7th, Pioneer created some drama of its own. After O’Keefe retired the first hitter of the inning, shortstop Nick Arrivo drilled a liner up the middle that was knocked down by O’Keefe. Arrivo beat the throw to first.

After the second out was made on a pop up to third, Nwogu tied the game with a double up the right center gap. Arrivo scored on the play.

The drama built in the bottom of the 7th, and it was O’Keefe who ended the contest.

Foley led off the inning with a sharp ground ball to second. The speedy leftfielder was safe on a hurried throw. Junior centerfielder Zach Schwartzenberger then sacrificed Foley to second.

After a pop out for the second out, senior second baseman Zach Owings reached first on an error by the first baseman. O’Keefe wasted little time ending the game with a bullet to left to plate Foley with the 3-2 game-winner.

Finkbeiner led Saline’s seven-hit attack with two hits. For Pioneer, Knorr, Nwogu and third baseman Will Welch each picked up two hits off of O’Keefe.

In game two, Saline left no drama on the board as it scored nine runs in the first three frames to rip Pioneer 11-1.

The Hornets were led by Schwartzenberger, who powered Saline with two long home runs in back-to-back at bats. The switch-hitting centerfielder hit a two-run blast in the 2nd inning and punctuated his day with another clout in the third that plated three more runs.

Senior pitcher Josh Nelson continued his mastery on the mound, scattering six hits while striking out four. Pioneer scored in the 2nd on a single by Kunec and back-to-back singles by Sapp and right fielder Eric Steinhauer. Nelson slammed the door for the rest of the game.

Saline finished the SEC title clincher in the 6th as the game met the mercy-rule stage. Senior catcher Cal Livesay hit a sharp single to left to create the 10-run margin.

Schwartzenberger’s two home runs, five RBI and three runs scored led Saline. O’Keefe doubled and singled and knocked in one run. Hovde, Livesay and Foley also collected two hits as Saline banged out 13 safeties in the game.

Pioneer was led by Kunec in the second game with two singles.

The sweep by Saline earns the Hornets a fifth-straight SEC title.

Top Performances in double header

+ Shawn O’Keefe:  WP (8 K’s, 1BB) GWRBI, double, 2 singles

+ Zach Schwartzenberger: 2 home runs, 5 RBI, SB, single, 3 runs, 2 BBs, SH

+ Rich Hovde: 2 singles, double, RBI, 2 runs

+ Josh Nelson: WP (4 K’s, 0 BB, 6 hits)

+ Ryan Foley: 2 singles, 3 runs, SB

+ Brendan Knorr: (6 2/3 IP, 7 hits), 3 singles

+ J.G. Nwogu: BB, double, single, RBI

+ Will Welch: 2 singles

+ John Kunec: 3 singles, run

Line Score Game # 1

Pioneer      100 000 1 - 2 9 4
  010 100 1 - 3 7 1

WP – O'Keefe
LP – Knorr

Line Score Game # 2

 Pioneer      010 000 - 1 6 2
  153 002 - 11 13 0

WP – Nelson
LP – Arrivo