ANCHOR BAY — Warren De La Salle baseball coach Matt Cook is proud of the way his team played this season.
The run came to an end with a 10-inning 5-4 loss to Sterling Heights Stevenson June 10 in a Division 1 regional semifinal.
The Pilots, who came into the season as the defending D-1 state champions, ended the season with a 27-10 record. That included a second-place finish in the Catholic High School League Central Division and another district championship. The program has four state championships in total.
“We’ve got nothing to be ashamed of,” Cook said. “We had a great year. Twenty-seven wins is a great season, especially with the schedule we play.”
The Pilots led 3-1 after one inning in the regional semi. Stevenson was able to tie the game at 3-3 in the bottom of the second. De La Salle went ahead 4-3 in the top of the 10th after junior Jake Badalamenti scored on a fielder’s choice. Stevenson tied the game at 4-4 on a bases-loaded walk. The winning run came after a Stevenson batter was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
Stevenson went on to beat Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse 6-0 in a regional final, before falling to Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett in the quarterfinal round.
“Anytime you play a good, quality opponent like Stevenson, we just want to play a good baseball game,” Cook said. “If you were in attendance, you saw a heck of a game. Hats off to Stevenson. They were down to their last outs and were able to scratch out a couple of runs.
“We clearly came out on the wrong side of it. I truly believed the winner of this regional would have a good shot to win a state title. It just wasn’t our time.”
De La Salle loses three players to graduation: Brett Sandora, Mike Karam and Keegan Kresevich. Cook thanked his seniors for their four years of service.
“We’ll miss them dearly,” Cook said.
The Pilots have 16 players eligible to return next season, including juniors Bryce Bush, Nino Puckett, Easton Sikorski and Badalamenti, who all played major roles in the team’s 2016 state title run.
“They should keep this in their memory banks,” Cook said. “We’re as talented as can be. We just can’t expect to walk out there and have the other team lie down. Hopefully they use this as a learning point.”