Alpena baseball falls in district title game
Last week the Traverse City West baseball team took the Big North Conference title from Alpena.
On Saturday, the Titans took a district trophy from the Wildcats.
Walter Borkovich threw a another solid game and the Titans topped Alpena 10-2 in a Division 1 district championship game on Saturday at Alpena High School.
The Wildcats (20-8) got behind early and spent the rest of the game playing catch-up and managed just four hits off of Borkovich, who signed to pitch with Michigan State next season.
Borkovich threw a three-hit shutout against the Wildcats to clinch the conference title last week and was just as solid this time around. He allowed four hits, struck out five and walked three.
“I felt a little more confident after seeing him one time,” Alpena coach Phil Schultz said. “We did put the ball in play a little more and looked better at the plate against him, but still he’s a quality pitcher and he made us earn our hits.”
West got to Alpena starter Mitch Skiba early, tallying four runs in the first inning with the highlight on a two-run single from Keegan Kenny.
Skiba pitched 2/3 innings and allowed four runs (three earned) on three hits with a pair of walks. He was relieved by Chris Modrzynski who pitched four innings and allowed six runs (one earned), four walks and one hit with a strikeout. Caleb Myers pitched the final 2 1/3 innings and allowed one hit, two walks and struck out one.
The Titans only managed a handful of hits in the game, but were helped by a handful of costly errors by Alpena’s defense. After adding a run in the third inning, West added two more in the fourth inning with the help of three errors. Two more runs were added in the next inning after two walks, two errors and a hit batter.
We got behind real early. They were pumped up and they put the ball in play and scored four quick runs,” Schultz said. “When we had the chance to make plays, we didn’t make plays and that really hurts, especially with a veteran team like they are.”
Alpena finally got on the scoreboard in the third inning after Cody Tucker, who was pinch running for Zach Nash, was driven in by an RBI single from Nick Skiba.
The Wildcats managed just one hit in the final three innings and stranded three base runners. Alpena scored a run in the bottom of the sixth inning when Borkovich was called for a balk and Tyler Pintar scored after being allowed to advance one base.
The championship game lay in stark contrast to Alpena’s 15-2 semifinal win in five innings over Traverse City Central.
Alpena had some early scoring chances before finally blowing the door off the game in the fourth inning with six runs. Pintar and Guilio Fantasia had RBI singles and Dylan Glennie and Brady Marwede both crossed home plate on errors. Nash added an RBI double.
The Wildcats piled on the runs again in the next inning, getting things started when Glennie drew a bases-loaded walk. Marwede then cleared the bases with a double and Alpena tacked on two more runs before the end of its turn at bat with two passed balls and an error.
Glennie and Nash led Alpena with two hits each.
Tim Atkinson earned the win for Alpena, allowing two runs on four hits with three strikeouts and three walks in three innings. Andy Marwede pitched the final two innings and struck out one.
Atkinson helped his own cause in the first inning and gave Alpena a 1-0 lead with a solo home run to right field, his sixth of the season.
Central answered back in its turn at the plate when Cam Givens singled in Ethan Pilarski. The Trojans added a run in the third inning when Jensen Shea singled home Ethan Campbell.
Despite falling short of a district title win, the future is bright for the Wildcats, who lose only two seniors to graduation-Nash and Mitch Skiba. With good depth on the mound and returning players at nearly all of the defensive positions, Alpena will certainly have the experience to contend again next season come playoff time.
“I was really pleased with our season. I had a lot of question marks going in. I had some confidence we had the talent, but I didn’t know position-wise where everything would play out,” Schultz said. “Some guys really came on and it was a phenomenal year. We won 20 games with a young bunch of kids and hopefully we learned from what we saw here today from West.”
The Titans defeated Marquette 14-0 in the other semfinal.
James Andersen can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.