Skyline’s varsity baseball team rolled into Tuesday’s Division 1 District Tournament at Dexter High School as heavy underdogs, taking on the Brighton Bulldogs, ranked tenth in the state.
Eamon Horwedel took the mound for Skyline, squaring off against Brighton’s lefty ace, Cameron Tullar. What ensued was a pitching duel that lasted well past seven innings. Both teams were still scoreless in the seventh inning, when Horwedel departed after reaching the newly imposed MHSAA pitch limit of 105 pitches in a game. He left the game with 12 strikeouts and 2 walks, but fellow junior Darryn Davis picked up right where Horwedel left off, keeping the game scoreless into the ninth inning. Tullar was no less remarkable, pitching into the ninth inning, giving up only four hits and walking none, while striking out 16 Eagle batters. But with two outs in the top of the ninth, on his Tullar’s 105th pitch of the game, Davis lined a double down the left field line, and when Brighton’s relayed the ball into the infield, they overthrew the cutoff man and the ball went all the way to the fence beyond first base, allowing Davis to score the game’s only run.
Skyline’s 1-0 win over the state powerhouse Bulldogs was just the beginning. On Saturday, they squared off against Dexter, and junior Jack Winger gained a measure of revenge over Dexter starter Mac Martin, who had beaten Winger and shut out the Eagles, 6-0, in their first game of the season way back in April. This time around, things were different. Winger hurled a complete-gem, giving up only one unearned run,on five hits, with one strikeout and no walks, and the Eagle bats came to life, knocking Martin out of the game by the fifth inning en route to winning easily, 6-1.
The Eagles had 10 hits on the day, including multiple hit games from Darryn Davis (2 for 3, 2 RBI) and Sean Haddlesey (2 for 4, 2 runs). Also getting in on the action were Eamon Horwedel (1-4, run), Jake Push (1 for 2, RBI), Blake Mial (1 for 3) Ian Frison (1 for 3, run) Jack Lehker (1 for 3, run) and Nate Lasinki (1 for 3, RBI).
The Eagles’ win earned them a berth in the District Championship against another state powerhouse, the Howell Hawks, who dismantled Pinckney with little effort, 9-0, in the day’s second semi-final game.
For the second time in four days, Eamon Horwedel would take the mound and face another lefty ace, this time, Howell’s Sam Weatherly, who will be pitching at Clemson University next year. After two scoreless innings, it quickly became apparent that the first team to one, would most likely win the game and the district crown. Unfortunately for Skyline, Howell would get that coveted run in the fourth inning when they led off the inning with a single, and then reverted to small ball, with Weatherly bunting for a single to put runners on first and second with no out. Another sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third with one out, and then Howell pulled off a suicide squeeze to perfection to score their sole run of the game.
Horwedel mowed down the Howell hitters with extreme efficiency, giving up only two hits in six innings, while walking none and striking out five, on only 56 pitches. Weatherly, however, struggled with his control, but little else. A single by Sean Haddlesey to lead off the game was the only hit on the day for Skyline. They did reach base three more times, thanks to walks by Weatherly, but never really threatened to score. Weatherly had to leave the game with two outs in the last inning when he hit his pitch limit, but a routine ground ball to second base off the bat of senior Ian Frison would bring the 2017 Skyline High School baseball season to a close with a 1-0 loss to the Hawks.
The win for Howell marked their 6th straight district title. Skyline’s runner-up finish was their best showing in the district since they won the crown in 2014, and easily their best showing since Howell and Brighton replaced Huron and Pioneer in their district two years ago.
Skyline finished the season with a winning record, going 18-16 on the year. They will lose 10 seniors from this year’s squad: Co-captains Jack Lehker and Jake Push, as well as Blake Mial, Ian Frison, Nate Lasinski, Andrew Fisher, Matthew Hagan, Chase Hyatt, Charlie Siers and Jalen Massey.
Darryn Davis, Sean Haddlesey and Eamon Horwedel led the team offensively in 2017. Davis hit .404 with 11 doubles and two triples, while knocking in 18 runs and scoring a team-high 23 runs. Haddlesey hit .347 with 5 doubles and 16 RBI while scoring 19 runs. Horwedel hit .337 with eight doubles and three triples, 8 RBI and 22 runs. Jake Push led the team in RBI with 19.
On the mound, the Eagles were led by Horwedel, Winger and Davis. Horwedel went 6-2 with one save. He threw 54 2/3 innings, and had an ERA of .640, with 69 strikeouts and six walks. Davis was 4-0 for Skyline, despite missing three starts with an injury. He threw 16 innings for the Eagles, with an ERA of 1.75 while striking out 11 and walking six. Winger went 3-3 with a save in his 44 2/3 innings. His ERA was 2.35 with 26 K’s and 9 walks.