Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Prep Baseball Districts Preview, Part I

CONTENT UPDATED AT 12:05am, Thurday, May 29, 2008 as it relates to District 26.

Note: Today is the first part of a two-part preview of this year's baseball districts of note in Oakland County and the history behind some of the matchups that remain possible today or have taken place in the past. Today previews Districts 20-27.

Yesterday opened the 2008 boys' baseball districts, an annual round-robin of upsets, problematic match-ups and numerous nail-biting innings for many of Oakland County's best baseball programs.

Unlike football, which is a qualifying tournament, all schools who wish to participate are seeded within class into districts of five or six schools. The history of the state tournament, which dates back to 1971, has produced 15 state champions and 19 runner-ups from Oakland County.

Here's the potential matchups to watch in Oakland County this week:

District 20: Southfield trounced Oak Park 16-1 yesterday, but the one to watch here is coach Jim Ellis and his Berkley Bears. The Bears have never advanced past a quarterfinal in any sport. In baseball, former coach Frank Stutcher and players like Andy Fairman ran into powerhouse teams in years past from Annis Joseph at Ferndale, Frank Clouser & Brian Gordon at now-closed Royal Oak Kimball and Don Sackett at Birmingham Seaholm, not to mention the teams from Hazel Park with Bob Welch and his cast of teammates.

Berkley's likely test will come from Redford Union High School. This year Berkley, also known as Bruce Flowers High for it's long basketball history, has a real shot to advance to the regional, which they host. If Berkley wins the district, a potential matchup is likely from the Cubs of University of Detroit Jesuit in the regional. Stranger things have happened, and if any Oakland County school is due, it's Berkley. District 20 notes: Milwaukee Brewer Ted Simmons and former Major League Baseball umpire John "Rocky" Roe hail from Southfield High... Oak Park used to be known as the Redskins but are now Knights...Redford Union is commonly referred to as "R-U".

District 22: Yesterday Warren Cousino fought the good fight before surrendering a 4-1 decision to Warren De LaSalle. This opens the possibility of a Warren De LaSalle - Royal Oak High matchup. Royal Oak had a big pre-Memorial Day week. First they trounced the defending state champion and No. 1 ranked Lake Orion Dragons 8-2. Later in the week they topped Bob Riker's Brother Rice Warriors, 2-1. It's been a tough two years at 1500 Lexington in Royal Oak, where 50 years of Kimball memories & tradition died with a forced bitterness. Coach Brian Gordon has helped the new-look Ravens make a mark towards new traditions, and besting De LaSalle for a district title would go a long way. District 22 notes: De LaSalle and Royal Oak Kimball met in the late 1990s in a quarterfinal that the Pilots took 8-5... De LaSalle is nicknamed the Pilots from their days off of Conner Avenue near Detroit's City Airport... Kimball remains the only school in Division-I or Class A history to play in three consecutive state title games (1971-73) and won the '72 title. The Knights also played for the '80 title... Royal Oak is the only Oakland County school in this district.

District 25: Romeo defeated Utica yesterday 9-4. Usually that's a game better suited for the football field, where Romeo and Utica play for a Brown Jug. Joining Romeo and Utica Eisenhower is Troy and Troy Athens. Athens has a Mr. Baseball candidate in pitcher Matt LaMothe, headed to Oakland University in the fall, and their neighbors at Troy High are always strong when it comes to fundamental strategy and execution. Athens has the talent; Troy has the recent tradition. Will either Troy team live up to their championship potential? District 25 notes: Troy went to the '99 finals, dropping a heart-breaking 6-5 decision in the final at-bat to Detroit Catholic Central when the Shamrocks were domiciled in Redford... Troy and Athens annually play one of their rivalry games at Comerica Park...Troy and Romeo used to be common opponents in all sports when both schools were part of the same league split of Oakland and Macomb County schools.

District 26: Oxford and another Oakland University recruit, Kyle Teague, outdueled Rochester Adams 2-0 Tuesday. That leaves the Wildcats to contend with Rochester, Stoney Creek and defending state champion Lake Orion also there to slug it out. Regardless, the Dragons are loaded and should win the district, but last week the Dragons found out no team is immune to losing when they dropped an 8-2 game to Royal Oak's Ravens. District 26 notes: No. 26 is loaded with past champions, including Lake Orion '07 title, Rochester, the champions in '97 and runner-up in '91, and Rochester Adams, who went to back-to-back title games in 95-96... Lake Orion grad Nate Recknagel was Big Ten Player Of The Year for the University of Michigan, this year's Big Ten champion.

District 27: Avondale defeated Waterford Kettering 14-6 yesterday, marking Kettering's last season in the Oakland Activities Association. That leaves Pontiac Central, Pontiac Northern, Waterford Mott and Clarkston, making an Avondale-Clarkston matchup possible. Rare is the opportunity for the Yellowjackets, 22-9 this year, to oust Clarkston in any tournament, so Avondale has a chance to make history. District 27 notes: Clarkston won Class A's title in 1976, defeating Hazel Park in an all-Oakland County final played in Midland.

While not in Oakland County, Detroit Western defeated Detroit Southeastern 4-3 to win the Public School League title in Comerica Park yesterday. It was the same Cowboys of Detroit Western that dropped a 2-1 decision to Kimball in 1972's title game, the first Oakland County school to win a baseball title.

~T.C. Cameron is the author of Metro Detroit's High School Football Rivalries, due August 25th, 2008 from Arcadia Publishing


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oxford beat Rochester Adams 2-0, you have the softball score.

May 29, 2008 at 12:04 AM 

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