reprinted from the Tuscola County Advertiser
MARLETTE — The Millington baseball team’s season-long search for consistency continued in Monday’s nonleague doubleheader split with Marlette.
The Cardinals’ 8-4 win in the opener followed by a 13-5 loss in the nightcap showed some of what they’ve done well this season, and also some of what’s made it difficult to establish a winning record.
Creeping to within a game of .500 at 8-9 following the opening-game victory, Millington’s players and coaches had their sights set on reaching the .500 mark with a sweep they were hoping would provide them with momentum on their way to postseason play. However, pitching was once again the Cardinals’ Achilles’ heel, as the Red Raiders put too many runs on the board for them to contend with in Game 2.
“Our pitching is our biggest concern right now with over a 6.00 team (earned-run average),” said Millington coach Chris Dipzinski.
“We’ve had days where we’ve swept teams and then turned around and been swept, but with only three seniors, we’re a pretty young team,” he added. “I think we’re moving in the right direction.”
Millington’s record stands at 8-10 while Marlette is 5-9.
Kohlton Sherman highlighted Millington’s Game 1 offensive exploits with three of his team’s seven hits and two RBIs. The other Cardinals’ hits came from Trevor Ogg, who also scored three times, Lukas Selich, Cole Hill and Kyle Paquette.
Paquette also drove in two runs and Nick McClain scored twice for Millington, which extended a 2-1 lead with three runs in the top of the fourth inning, two in the fifth and one in the sixth. Cole Hill was the winning pitcher, going the first four innings and allowing two earned runs on six hits.
The loss was charged to Marlette starter Chad Bower in three innings of work. Sean Quade doubled amongst his two hits and Marcus Armstrong also had two hits for the Red Raiders.
Game 2 saw Marlette off to a strong start with a four-run top of the first, but Millington didn’t wait to chip away at the deficit with a three-run bottom half of the frame. The Red Raiders added single runs in the second and fourth innings to push their lead to 6-3, but the Cardinals were able to answer by trimming the deficit to 6-5 with two runs of their own in the fourth.
A six-run fifth followed by scoring its final run in the sixth gave Marlette seven unanswered runs to nail down the win and split the doubleheader.
“We should be a good hitting team that I expect can score anywhere from five to eight runs per game, but we either score eight, nine, 10, or we score zero,” said Dipzinski, adding that the Cardinals have been shut out five times this season. “It’s been all or nothing for us so far.”
Alex Heussner had three hits on two doubles, four runs scored and two RBIs to pace the Red Raiders’ bats, Quade had three hits with a double and three runs scored, Marcus Armstrong had two hits with a double and two runs scored and Chris Nickens had two hits and two RBIs.
Heussner earned the win in four innings of relief for Marlette’s Game 2 starter Armstrong, allowing no earned runs on four hits.
The starter McClain took the loss for the Cardinals, yielding four earned runs while they were led offensively by Drew Germain going 3-for-3, Paquette going 2-for-3 with an RBI and Sherman going 1-for-2 with a double and two RBIs.
Millington’s three seniors are Selich, Sherman, and Ogg. Both Selich and Sherman are four-year varsity starters, with Selich signed to play baseball for Cleary University and Sherman signed to play football at Valparaiso University.
“It’s great having a couple of four-year guys lead the team,” said Dipzinksi.
Selich is leading the Cardinals in hitting with a .525 average and recently became the school’s record-holder for career RBIs after recording his 80th during a Tri-Valley East doubleheader sweep of Bridgeport.
“He doesn’t strike out very often, so it’s very refreshing for us when he comes up with guys on base,” said Dipzinski of Selich. “We expect him to get on base or drive somebody in every time he comes to the plate, and he’s been able to deliver for us.”
Selich said the warmer spring temperatures finally arriving has helped the Cardinals’ offense. It’s a trend he hopes to see continue.
“We’ve got to be more consistent, but we’re a young team and we’ll get there,” said Selich. “We want to get ready for districts and win a district championship if we can.”