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Jim Causley Buick
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Liggett senior Connor Fannon pitched well in the Knights’ regional semifinal win over Shrine.

June 13, 2013
University Liggett's boys' baseball team won its third straight Division 4 regional championship last weekend, beating Allen Park Inter-City Baptist 2-0 in the title game.

The host Knights blasted Inter-City Baptist twice during the regular season, but the third time was a nail-biter from the opening pitch.

Junior Adam Fiema started, but left after three innings after a hamstring tightened. In stepped senior Mark Auk.

He hasn't pitched in three weeks, but that didn't stop him from pitching three-hit shutout ball in the final four innings to get the win in relief.

"Mark Auk came in and pitched for the first time in three weeks," head coach Dan Cimini said. "He did a great job, got out of a jam and he had some good defense behind him.

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"Adam did a nice job on the mound, but we didn't want to take any chances with him with his injury. He wasn't 100 percent on the mound."

Fiema gave up only one hit and walked three against his former teammates. He attended Inter-City Baptist for his first two years of high school before transferring to Liggett.

Auk went the final four innings, giving up three hits and striking out four. He accounted for what turned out to be the winning run when he blasted a solo homer in the top of the first inning. He also doubled in the fifth inning.

The Knights could only muster three hits against a pitcher they pummeled the previous time they faced him.

Fiema singled home junior Patrick Broder with the Knights' second run in the fifth inning.

"I don't know why the offense was quiet today, but we won with great pitching and defense," Cimini said. "We know this is playoff baseball and everyone is going to pitch their ace.

"We saw some good pitching and got just enough runs to win a regional title and get back to the quarterfinals."

In the regional semifinal, Liggett edged Royal Oak Shrine 2-1 as the home team survived a seventh-inning rally to win.

The Knights scored single runs in the first and second inning, but that would be it as Shrine's pitcher allowed only two more hits in the final four innings.

However, Liggett senior Connor Fannon faced only two over the minimum through six innings on the mound.

He retired Shrine's first eight hitters before hitting a batter and he gave up an infield single in the fourth.

The Knights loaded the bases with only one out in the bottom of the fifth. One hit would have broken open a tight game, but senior Kevin Allen and Broder hit into back-to-back fielder's choice plays to end the threat.

Fannon retired Shrine one-two-three in the sixth, but in the seventh he gave up a lead-off single and hit the next batter.

A fielder's choice play left runners on first and second with one out and a pop-out to Broder left the Knights one out from winning.

Fannon induced a routine ground out to sophomore shortstop Nick Azar, but his throw was in the dirt and got past Allen.

The runner scored from second base, and Shrine's third-base coach waved home the runner on first.

Junior right fielder Cole Zingas backed up the play and threw a strike to Broder, who turned and threw a bullet to senior catcher Nate Gaggin, who put two hands on the ball in his mitt and easily tagged out the runner who was two feet from home plate for the final out.

Fiema was the only Knight with two hits and scored a run. Auk, Fannon and Gaggin had the other hits.

Liggett improved to 28-4 overall.

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