Article courtesy of MIPrepZone
CLARKSTON — With its two-run lead having just been erased, Rochester responded with a vengeance in Saturday’s Division 1 regional final, posting a whopping eight runs in the top of the seventh to defeat Birmingham Brother Rice, 10-2.
Rochester’s big inning — made possible by a long string of singles that found holes in the defense – lifted the Falcons into the state quarterfinals, duplicating the feat from last year’s team.
“They tied it up 2-2 and we got a chance to pull them into the dugout and say, ‘Hey, if we had told you we’d be tied with Brother Rice in the seventh inning of the regional championship game, wouldn’t we all be happy?’, Rochester coach Eric Magiera said.
“In the seventh inning, these guys just did a gut check. They came out there and weren’t going to let themselves lose. There’s a lot of teams that would be deflated, but that’s not us.”
The Falcons (30-11) loaded the bases in the seventh inning with nobody out, setting the table for run-scoring hits by senior Ryan Gladstone, freshman Noah Stout and junior Drew Loftus that made it 6-2. Four additional runs would score before the inning was up.
“It was a tight game and we just needed one. We ended up getting eight. Coach (Magiera) said we needed a hit because it could potentially be the last game of the year,” Gladstone said. “We called it a little hit parade and had ourselves a day in that inning.”
Rochester benefited from outstanding pitching across Saturday’s 8-1 regional semifinal win over Royal Oak and into the title game against Brother Rice.
In the semifinal, the Falcons’s offense struck for seven runs in the opening inning, allowing Magiera to alter the planned usage of his top pitchers to the team’s benefit. Junior Luke Kastran took the mound instead and went the distance, allowing just three hits and one run in seven innings against Royal Oak.
“If you look at Kastran, that’s one of the toughest situations to be thrown into,” Magiera said. “He’s the No. 3 (starter) and probably thought there was a chance he’d show up to regionals and never see the field. All of the sudden, in the first inning of game one, he was thrown into the mix. A lot of guys wouldn’t respond well to that.”
The move allowed the Falcons’ ace, senior Albert Nagy, to pitch the championship game, in which he limited a powerful Warriors offense to two runs in six innings.
“We have faith in our No. 2 (Jacob Jackson), and we think he could have gotten the job done, but Nagy, I legitimately think he is the best pitcher in the state,” Magiera said. “If it was between him and any other pitcher in the state, I’d want Albert Nagy on the mound today. Being able to have him in this championship game was a life-saver.”
Rochester will face Northville on Tuesday at 4 p.m. in a quarterfinal game played at Wayne State.
For Brother Rice, the season concluded with a 29-9 record that featured a Catholic League A-B Division championship and another district title.
“We had one bad inning. Hats off to them. They did a great job. They were better today than us. The scoreboard never lies in sports, that I know,” Warriors coach Bob Riker said.
Brother Rice topped Lake Orion 9-0 in the other semifinal, riding a strong start by senior Chris Faust to the title game.
“It was really hard for me this year, but also really gratifying. These guys are easy to be around and they kind of taught me to love the game again, a little more than I had before.”