Liggett players and coaches give the No. 1 sign after the trophy presentation after the Knights beat Decatur to win the Division 3 state championship. photo by Renato Jamett.
June 19, 2014University Liggett boys' baseball team won its second straight state championship last weekend, beating Decatur 9-0 in the Division 3 title game at Michigan State University's McLane Stadium.
Last year, the Knights beat Beal City to win the Division 4 title. The Knights also became the first team in state history to play in four consecutive state championship games, winning three of them. They lost the 2012 game to Decatur.
"Our guys came out focused and ready to play," head coach Dan Cimini said. "They played a great game and beat a good Decatur team. It's a tribute to the players who are in our program. They give it their best shot each and every day and this is the end result.
"It's an awesome feeling."
The Knights put two runs on the board in the third inning, but put the game away after tallying seven runs in the fifth to build the 9-0 advantage.
They only had three hits, but walked seven times and Decatur committed four errors, allowing the nine runs to score.
Adam Fiema, Nick Azar and Anthony Simon each had a hit, while Fiema, Simon, Gehrig Anglin, Matt Gushee and Ian Clark, on a squeeze bunt, drove in runs.
Anglin, a freshman, earned the win on the mound, going the distance. He gave up only two hits, walked three and struck out four. He faced only 28 hitters.
Liggett finished its season 25-8 overall.
Liggett did something that is unheard of in high school athletics — make it to four consecutive state championship games — after ripping Reese 7-1 in the semifinals.
The Knights used an aggressive offensive attack and benefited from nine walks to power their way to a 7-1 lead after four innings.
Fiema was 2-for-3 with a run scored, two RBIs and two walks, while Clark was 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
Patrick Broder was 1-for-3 with a run scored, one RBI and one walk, and Simon was 1-for-4 with two runs scored and one RBI. Cole Zingas was 0-for-2, but walked three times, scored a run and drove in a run. On the mound was Gushee, who was in total command. He went all seven innings, giving up only four hits, one earned run, one walk and two strikeouts.
In the quarterfinals at Chelsea High School, Liggett clinched its fourth consecutive trip to the Final Four by defeating Clinton 7-3.
In the process of beating Clinton, Cimini earned his 300th career win, putting him at 300-63 in his 11 seasons at the helm of the Knights.
The Knights trailed 3-0, but came back to make it 3-3 after Zingas singled home Connor McCarron, Azar tripled home Zingas and Simon drove home Azar with a sacrifice fly.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Clinton had runners in scoring position off starter Anglin.
Cimini pulled Anglin and put in Fiema, who got out of the inning with the score tied 3-3.
Clinton's T.J. Baker had not given up an earned run all season, but the Knights changed that as they tacked on four runs to win the game.
Fiema walked, Zingas doubled and Azar was intentionally walked to load the bases. Simon's fielder's choice scored Fiema and Anglin hit a sacrifice fly to score Zingas to make it 5-3.
Gushee and Broder also had run-scoring hits to finish off the offensive output.
Fiema slammed the door and earned the win with his two innings of relief.
Nick Azar made the Division 3 All-State First Team as an infielder, while Fiema made All-State First Team as an outfielder.
Anthony Simon made All-State Second Team as a first baseman.