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Gaylord St. Mary Ends Season in D4 Semifinals

EAST LANSING – With the top of the order going hitless in 12 at-bats, Gaylord St. Mary’s offense found itself struggling at the plate for the first time this postseason Friday.

Appearing in its first state semifinal since recording consecutive Class D runner-up finishes in 1988 and 1989, the eighth-ranked Snowbirds fell 2-0 to Portland St. Patrick in a Division 4 semifinal at Michigan State.

The loss marked the first time St. Mary (31-6) was shut out all season after scoring 10 or more runs in eight of its last 10 games.

“We talked about it during that season, that wouldn’t it be great if we made it down to the finals,” St. Mary coach Matt Nowicki said. “Prior to the game, I told the guys just to enjoy the ride, because who knows when we’re going to get back here.

“Finishing 31-6 at the end of the year is not too shabby. Obviously these kids are down right now, but they’ve got nothing to hang their heads about.”

St. Mary had its scoring chances Friday, loading the bases in the second and third, but grounded out both times to end the inning.

Dan Mackowiak’s perfectly-placed RBI bunt single down the third-base line in the top of the first scored Brendan Schrauben to St. Patrick (23-7) a 1-0 lead after one.

The Shamrocks then tacked on an insurance in the fifth on Brandon Scheurer’s single to center field.

With his infield backing him up, St. Patrick’s Nathan Lehnert kept the Snowbirds off balance, allowing five hits while striking out two over six innings.

“We hit the ball, but they made some phenomenal plays,” Nowicki said. “They made a couple of diving plays, but that’s baseball.”

Nicholas Torsky took the loss, giving up two earned runs on five hits while fanning four.

With only four seniors on the roster, the champions of the Ski Valley Conference are set to return 12 next season, including a trio of current eighth graders.

“It’s been kind of fun watching their (eighth graders) faces throughout this whole process,” Nowicki said. “The atmosphere has been great for them and so has this whole process. We’ll be back next year.”