Different coach, same philosophy: Pope determined to keep basketball program running strong

The Milan Big Reds basketball program was on top of the world in March. They had surprised many by reaching the state playoffs at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, even moreso by winning their first state title since 1948. For the first time in a long while, the Big Reds were being noticed for basketball accomplishments. For a few months, life was good on top of the mountain for the program.

New head coach Chris Pope looks forward to the upcoming season, targeting a return to the Breslin Center in East Lansing. (File photo by Paula Dotson)

New head coach Chris Pope looks forward to the upcoming season, targeting a return to the Breslin Center in East Lansing. (File photo by Paula Dotson)

Shockwaves were sent around the team in June, when head coach Josh Tropea stepped down after five seasons, leaving the program he built from the ground up to coach in Chelsea. Thankfully for athletic director Dave Kaiser, Milan didn’t have to look far for Tropea’s successor.

The new coach is none other than Chris Pope, a Milan alum who’d been an assistant coach during Tropea’s tenure. Even though some coaches change things up when they take over a program, Pope’s ideal system is keeping things the way they were, with the only major change being his job title.

The familiarity of things, Pope says, is going to be a key part of the upcoming season. “We’re going to keep things essentially the same – the pace and style of our play,” he said. “I’m going to be the same person I was on the floor (when I was the assistant coach). The only change that we’ll make is to try to get the ball up and down the floor a little more, because the kids are older and wiser.”

Pope surprised the crowd at the team title celebration this past April when he guaranteed a state title in 2015, and even though several months have passed since that night, he still believes that the Big Reds can achieve that goal.  “A successful season for us is getting back to the Breslin,” he said.

Pope also believes that pressure won’t be an issue for his team; it will instead be something that the team uses as motivation. “We don’t feel the pressure (to succeed) – we embrace it,” he said. “We’ve worked so hard to get to this point in the program, and we want to defend what’s ours.

“Everybody thought (last year) was a fluke. I’ve been telling the kids that the only way to prove them wrong is to go back and (win it all) again.”

For the Big Reds and new head coach Chris Pope, the road to the Breslin Center begins with a home game against Monroe on December 9.

Dream dashed: Milan stunned by Chelsea in pre-district game

The 2014 Milan Big Reds baseball team had a lot going for them. The squad had all but three players returning from their 2013 club that reached the Final Four. Many on the team were hoping to accomplish that feat again.

Jake Hendricks had two hits and scored two runs in Milan's 7-4 loss to Chelsea on Wednesday afternoon. (File photo by Scott Dotson)

Jake Hendricks had two hits and scored two runs in Milan’s 7-4 loss to Chelsea on Wednesday afternoon. (File photo by Scott Dotson)

Throughout the season, the Big Red offense and pitching had been superb. Everything that could go right for Milan had seemed to go right, and it seemed the dream could happen for the second straight year.

Those dreams were dashed on Wednesday afternoon, as the Big Reds lost to the Chelsea Bulldogs 7-4 in the pre-district game held in Chelsea.

Milan, playing as the home team after the game was rained out Tuesday and moved Wednesday due to field conditions, jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the 2nd inning. Jake Hendricks and Zach Allen led off with back-to-back singles. After Jake Friese bunted the runners over, Isaac Grubke attempted a sacrifice bunt and reached base on an error that allowed Hendricks and Allen to score.

Thomas Lindeman had a fairly routine start for the Big Reds in the first 3 innings, allowing just two hits in that span. Yet, after Jacob Maas ended the bottom of the 3rd having been picked off at first base, the tide slowly turned in Chelsea’s favor.

The Big Reds committed five errors in the top of the 4th, allowing three runs to score and giving the Bulldogs a 3-2 lead. Chelsea brought eight batters to the plate in the inning.

Milan squandered a potential chance to score in the 5th. After Devin Miller was issued a one-out walk and Zach Alliston bunted Miller over to second base, Lindeman hit a slow ground ball to the shortstop, Collin Steinhauer. Steinhauer attempted to field the ball and dropped it. As he misplayed the ball, Miller rounded third base. Steinhauer then re-gained control of the ball, and Miller wound up being caught in a rundown and tagged out for the final out of the inning.

Following Lindeman setting down the Bulldogs in order in the top half of the 6th, the Big Red offense came alive. After two quick outs, Hendricks and Allen singled, giving the Big Reds runners on first and second. Friese drove Hendricks home with a single of his own, tying the game at 3. As James Carpenter was batting, Chelsea pitcher Jacob Scheese attempted to pick off Friese at 1st. The throw got away from first baseman Tyler Eckler, and Allen scored on the play while Friese advanced to second base. Carpenter would strike out to end the inning.

The Bulldogs struck back in the top of the 7th, scoring four runs and gaining a 7-4 lead. Chelsea loaded the bases following two singles and a runner reaching by a fielder’s choice. Bulldogs left fielder Scott Crews and Eckler each hit 2-RBI singles following the fielder’s choice. Lindeman was lifted from the game after walking designated hitter Ryan Eisley. Despite runners on first and second, Kyle Schrader set down Chelsea in order to end the inning.

The Big Reds attempted to stage a comeback in the home half, as Alliston hit a one-out single, but Lindeman ended the game by hitting into a double play.

Milan head coach Adam Gilles, surprised by the loss himself, was frank in postgame comments. “Fielding was a letdown for us today,” he said. “We got some good hits – including good ones with two outs – but in the end, (winning) comes down to making plays. If we don’t make errors, we have a good chance to win. You can’t give the other team extra outs.”

Despite the loss, Gilles was complimentary of the 11-member senior class. “They were an extremely talented bunch of players,” he said. “They are one of the top senior classes I’ve had as a coach at Milan. It’s too bad that they had to go out like this, but we accomplished a lot and I’m proud of them.”

The Big Reds end the season with a 28-9 record. The 28 wins by Milan this season is the second-most in school history.

Big Reds split series with Dundee

The Milan Big Reds finished a busy week with a split against the Dundee Vikings on Saturday. The Big Reds won game one by a 10-1 score, and lost game two in extra innings 4-3.

Jacob Maas hit a home run in game one of the Big Reds' doubleheader against Dundee on Saturday and led the team in RBIs in the game. (File photo by Joel Dotson)

Jacob Maas hit a home run in game one of the Big Reds’ doubleheader against Dundee on Saturday and led the team in RBIs in the game. (File photo by Joel Dotson)

The Big Reds scored early and often in the opening game. Milan scored seven runs in the first 4 innings. Dundee’s lone run of the game came in the bottom of the 4th by a fielder’s choice. The Viking score ended the Big Reds’ scoreless inning streak on the mound at 27.

The Big Reds added three insurance runs in the 6th to extend their lead.

Kyle Schrader pitched six dominant innings on the mound for Milan, allowing just three hits and striking out eight. Cody Vance, making just his second appearance on the hill this season, finished the game with a scoreless 7th.

Jacob Maas had an exceptional offensive performance in game one, leading the Big Reds in hits and RBIs in the game with three each. Maas hit a two-run home run in the 6th, his first home run of the season and the team’s third of the year.

The Vikings struck first in game two. Dundee scored three runs in the 3rd, with two runs coming on a single by second baseman Michael Funchion.

Dundee starting pitcher Tommy McComas was tough on the Big Reds in his four innings on the mound. In the first three innings, McComas struck out seven Big Reds and allowed just two hits.

Milan tried to respond to Dundee’s scoring rally in the top of the 4th. Designated hitter Jake Hendricks and first baseman Zach Allen each hit singles to start the inning. Hendricks advanced to 2nd on Allen’s single and was thrown out at 3rd as Friese attempted a bunt. Allen advanced to 2nd on the play. Allen then advanced to 3rd, and Zach Alliston – the courtesy runner for Friese – advanced to 2nd on a single by Beau Hotz, which loaded the bases. Allen tried to score on a wild pitch, but was thrown out at the plate for the second out of the inning. With runners on 2nd and 3rd, James Carpenter – pinch hitting for left fielder Tommy Vinnay – struck out to end the inning.

The Big Reds loaded the bases again with one out in the 5th, with a new pitcher on the mound. Hendricks hit a shallow fly ball to right field for the second out. The fly ball was not deep enough to score any runners. Allen struck out to end the attempted Milan rally.

Milan finally got on the board in the 6th inning. Friese led off the inning with a single. Alliston – running for Friese again – stole 2nd and advanced to 3rd on a wild pitch. After Hotz lined out and Vinnay struck out, Devin Miller hit an RBI single that cut Dundee’s lead to 3-1. Miller stole 2nd as Thomas Lindeman was batting. Lindeman reached base on an error by the Vikings shortstop, giving Milan runners on 1st and 3rd with two outs. Kyle Schrader hit an RBI single that scored Miller, putting the Big Reds within a run. Maas ended the inning with a groundout.

Cody Vance pitched a scoreless inning against Dundee on Saturday, closing out game one in just his 2nd pitching appearance of the season. (File photo by Scott Dotson)

Cody Vance pitched a scoreless inning against Dundee on Saturday, closing out game one in just his 2nd pitching appearance of the season. (File photo by Scott Dotson)

Using the momentum from the offensive rally, Hendricks induced an inning-ending double play after walking the previous batter in the bottom half of the 6th.

The Big Reds tied the game in the top of the 7th, with a little help from Dundee reliever Jay Briggs. After Hendricks opened the inning with a strikeout, Briggs walked Allen and hit Friese and Hotz to load the bases. Isaac Grubke, pinch hitting for the re-entered Vinnay, managed to squeeze bunt Allen home that tied the game at 3. Alliston ended the inning when he was caught trying to steal home while Miller was batting.

Hendricks pitched to four batters in the bottom of the 7th. The lone hit for the Vikings in the inning was a single.

Milan sent four batters to the plate in the top half of the 8th inning, but only managed one hit – a single by Schrader.

Hendricks was put in a jam in the bottom of the 8th. He allowed a leadoff double to Zach Motylinski. Milan head coach Adam Gilles then elected to load the bases with no outs. After inducing a popout in foul territory for the first out, Hendricks was pulled from the game for Lindeman. Lindeman, who warmed up by the eight pitches allowed in-game and did not warm up beforehand, was given a bases-loaded with one out situation with Funchion due up in the order. Funchion twice attempted to suicide squeeze the winning run home, but did so unsuccessfully. The lack of warm-up time proved costly for Lindeman, as he allowed a walk-off walk.

In all, Milan had 11 hits in the series finale and stranded 14 runners on base.

Despite the up-and-down of game two, Gilles was feeling upbeat about his team’s performance in the series. “The first game was good,” he said. “We hit the ball well and Schrader did a great job.

“We stranded too many runners in game two. We battled and came back. (Game two) is a good test for what we’re going to see on Tuesday (against Chelsea). It felt like a playoff game. We haven’t had an intense game like that in a while. It was a tough loss, but we’ve got knowledge of how to handle games like this for the future.”

Milan (28-8) returns to the diamond on Tuesday, May 27 in a pre-district game against Chelsea. The Big Reds will take on the Bulldogs on their home field. Regardless of what happens in Tuesday’s matchup, the Big Reds are also scheduled to host Summit Academy on Wednesday, May 28, making up a cancelled series.

Tuesday’s game against Chelsea is set to begin at 4 p.m.

Game 1 stats

Winning pitcher – Kyle Schrader (Milan; 7-1) – 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R (also earned), 3 BB, 8 K

Milan hit leaders – Maas & Schrader 3 each; Lindeman & Grubke 2 each

Milan RBI leaders – Maas 3

Milan home runs – Maas (1; team’s 3rd home run of season)

Game 2 stats

Winning pitcher – Jay Briggs (Dundee) – 4 IP, 7 H, 3 R (all earned), 2 BB, 3 K

Losing pitcher – Jake Hendricks (Milan; 2-4) – 3 IP, H, R (also earned), 4 BB, 4 K

Milan hit leader – Schrader 4 (went 4-for-5 in the game)

Milan RBI leaders – three with an RBI each (Schrader, Grubke, Miller)

Big Reds wrap up Huron League schedule with victory over Grosse Ile

The Milan Big Reds wrapped up their Huron League conference schedule with a victory over the Grosse Ile Red Devils on Friday afternoon. The Big Reds defeated the Red Devils 6-0, maintaining a strong offensive output with superb pitching.

Zach Allen pitched a complete game against Grosse Ile on Friday. Allen now leads the Big Reds in pitching wins, with 7. (File photo by Scott Dotson)

Zach Allen pitched a complete game against Grosse Ile on Friday. Allen now leads the Big Reds in pitching wins, with 7. (File photo by Scott Dotson)

The Big Reds scored two runs early in the game. Thomas Lindeman and Kyle Schrader led off with singles. After Jacob Maas lined out to third base, Jake Hendricks and Zach Allen hit consecutive RBI singles to put Milan up 2-0.

It was all the offense that Allen would need. Allen pitched a complete game, allowing six hits and striking out six Red Devils.

Grosse Ile attempted to score in the bottom of the 2nd, after singles by Neil and Eric Smorch opened the inning, but Allen managed to get the next three batters to ground out to end the threat. Following the 2nd inning, Allen set the Red Devils down in order in all but two of the home frames.

The Big Reds added insurance runs in the 6th and 7th innings, extending their lead to 6-0. Allen finished his outing with two strikeouts and a groundout in the bottom of the 7th.

Milan head coach Adam Gilles was impressed with his team’s effort in the game. “Zach did an outstanding job on the mound,” he said. “To have Zach pitching the way he is – as a sophomore – is special.

Jake Hendricks led the Big Reds in RBIs in Friday's game, knocking in 2 runs. (File photo by Scott Dotson)

Jake Hendricks led the Big Reds in RBIs in Friday’s game, knocking in 2 runs. (File photo by Scott Dotson)

“Our offense did a good job again today. It’s a good thing that everything’s beginning to click at the right time, with districts just around the corner.”

Milan finished their conference schedule with a 10-4 record.

The Big Reds finish a busy week with a matchup against Dundee tomorrow, May 24. The road doubleheader will begin at 11 a.m.

 

 

 

Game stats

Winning pitcher – Zach Allen (Milan; 7-1) – CG, 6 H, 0 R, BB, 6 K

Losing pitcher – Steven Plyler (Grosse Ile) – 6 IP, 7 H, 4 R (all earned), 2 BB, 3 K

Milan hit leaders – Lindeman & Schrader 2 each

Milan RBI leaders – Hendricks 2; Allen, Friese & Grubke 1 each

Milan sweeps Whiteford on Senior Day

The Milan Big Reds continued to show strong offense and had superb pitching on Thursday afternoon in a doubleheader sweep of Whiteford. The Big Reds defeated the Bobcats 2-0 in game one and 10-0 in game two.

Jacob Maas knocked in Milan's two runs in their 2-0 victory over Whiteford in game one of the doubleheader on Thursday. Maas is one of 11 seniors on the Big Red roster. (File photo by Joel Dotson)

Jacob Maas knocked in Milan’s two runs in their 2-0 victory over Whiteford in game one of the doubleheader on Thursday. Maas is one of 11 seniors on the Big Red roster. (File photo by Joel Dotson)

The 11 Milan seniors were honored before the opening game. In addition, the game one lineup consisted of all seniors.

The Big Reds opened the scoring in the bottom of the 1st inning. Kyle Schrader hit a leadoff triple and was brought home by Jacob Maas on a sac fly. Maas also had the team’s other RBI in the game, knocking in Schrader with an RBI double in the 3rd.

Tommy Vinnay, making just his third pitching appearance of the season, found ways out of trouble over his five innings of work.

A key moment in the game occurred with the Bobcats batting in the top of the 5th. A two-out hit by pitch, single, and two wild pitches put the tying runs in scoring position. Big Red catcher Jake Friese made a superb catch by the backstop in foul territory to end the inning. The play preserved Milan’s 2-0 lead.

Isaac Grubke relieved Vinnay in the 6th and pitched well in his outing, allowing just one hit over the final two innings. Grubke picked up the save, his first of the season.

In game two, Milan’s Beau Hotz worked his way out of a one-out bases loaded jam in the top of the first inning, recording a strikeout and inducing an inning-ending fly ball to right fielder Devin Miller.

The Big Reds took a 2-0 lead in the third inning. After Ryan Anguilm and Thomas Lindeman reached base on a walk and hit by pitch, Zach Allen delivered a two RBI single.

Milan’s defense kept the Bobcats off the scoreboard through the middle innings, as double plays ended Whiteford at-bats in the 2nd and the 5th.  Playing left field, Vinnay preserved the two run lead with a diving catch to end the 4th inning, stranding the tying runs.  He also made a shoe-string catch to start the double play in the top of the 5th.

Zach Allen had 3 RBIs in Milan's 10-0 victory over Whiteford in game two of Thursday's doubleheader. (File photo by Scott Dotson)

Zach Allen had 3 RBIs in Milan’s 10-0 victory over Whiteford in game two of Thursday’s doubleheader. (File photo by Scott Dotson)

The Milan offense came alive late in game two, when eight batters came to the plate in the bottom half of the 5th. Vinnay and Lindeman started the inning with base hits, and advanced to second and third base on a wild pitch.  Allen advanced the runners on a squeeze bunt, scoring Vinnay and pushing the lead to 3-0. After a walk was issued to Maas, Lindeman scored on a single by Hotz.  Pinch-runner Zach Alliston then stole second base, and Maas scored on a double steal, extending the lead to 5-0.

The 6th inning worked even better for Milan. Four consecutive Big Reds led off the inning with hits, with Lindeman and Schrader picking up RBIs in the process. After a popout, Maas hit a triple that scored Lindeman and Schrader. Hotz followed the triple with a base hit of his own, giving the Big Reds the 10-0 win by the mercy rule.

Milan head coach Adam Gilles was happy to see his team win both games on Senior Day. “I’m happy for our seniors, going out on Senior Day with two wins,” he said. “Everything clicked today. The defense was great. Tommy Vinnay made some huge plays (in left field), and our defense turning two double plays was good too.

“Our pitchers were in control again today. Giving up no runs over 14 innings is impressive. It is also nice to see our offense coming around with districts starting next week.”

The Big Reds (26-7) return to conference action with a road game against Grosse Ile tomorrow, May 23. Milan is 9-4 in Huron League play entering Friday’s conference finale against the Red Devils. First pitch of the game is set for 4:30 p.m.

Game 1 stats

Opening lineup: Schrader SS – Maas CF – Hendricks LF – Carpenter DH – Friese C – Alliston 2B – Miller RF – Wagner 1B – Vance 3B (Vinnay P)

Winning pitcher – Tommy Vinnay (Milan; 2-0) – 5 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 3 K – 22 batters faced

Losing pitcher – Colton Hoogendorn (Whiteford) – 6 IP, 7 H, 2 R (both earned), 4 K, BB – 26 batters faced

Save – Isaac Grubke (Milan; 1) – 2 IP, H, BB – 8 batters faced

Milan RBI leader – Maas 2

Seven Milan players had a hit each

Game 2 stats

Winning pitcher – Beau Hotz (Milan; 2-0) – CG (6 IP), 4 H, 0 R, 2 K, 3 BB – 25 batters faced

Losing pitcher – Kevin Kaufman (Whiteford) – 3 IP, 4 H, 2 R (both earned), K, BB – 14 batters faced

Milan hit leaders – Lindeman 3; three players with 2 hits each (Schrader, Maas, Hotz)

Milan RBI leader – Allen 3

Milan takes two from Flat Rock

The Milan Big Reds extended their win streak on Wednesday, defeating the Flat Rock Rams 10-0 in game one and 6-2 in game two.

Jacob Maas (17) lines an RBI single in game two of Milan's series against Flat Rock on Wednesday. The Big Reds swept the Rams in the doubleheader. (Photo by Joel Dotson)

Jacob Maas (17) lines an RBI single in game one of Milan’s series against Flat Rock on Wednesday. The Big Reds swept the Rams in the doubleheader. (Photo by Joel Dotson)

The Milan offense had quite a showing in game one. The Big Reds held a 2-0 lead until the 5th inning, when they added four runs to extend their lead to 6-0. Thomas Lindeman led the inning off with a single and was doubled home by Kyle Schrader. Schrader was knocked in by Zach Allen, and Allen went home on a single by Jake Hendricks. After a popout by Jacob Maas, Beau Hotz hit a sacrifice fly to left field to score the fourth run of the frame.

The bottom of the 6th was much the same. After a leadoff walk by Devin Miller, Brendan Ray popped out to second base. Miller stole 2nd while Ray was batting. Lindeman hit an RBI single that put the Big Reds up 7-0. After Milan loaded the bases by an error and a walk, Jake Hendricks hit a game-winning double that scored the three Big Reds on base.

Lindeman backed his teammates by throwing a complete game one-hitter on the mound, allowing the lone hit in the 2nd inning. Lindeman also struck out 9 Rams over his six innings of work.

A four-run 4th inning aided Milan in game two. The Big Reds trailed 2-1 before the offensive rally, stranding the bases loaded in each of the previous two innings. The Milan rally was in part because of struggles on the mound by Rams starting pitcher Brandon Miller, who allowed three hits, hit three batters, and and threw two wild pitches that resulted in runs scoring.

Bryan Wagner relieved Big Red starter Jake Hendricks in the 6th inning, and worked out of a two out, bases-loaded jam. Wagner loaded the bases after he hit a batter and walked two consecutive hitters, striking out Brandon Kish to end the inning. Wagner continued to work in the 7th, setting down the Ram top of the order to give Milan the victory.

Big Red head coach Adam Gilles was happy to see his team’s offense rebound in the series. “I had to get after some of our players before the game,” he said. “I wasn’t happy with the way they were hitting (before). Hopefully they’re going to keep hitting like they did today. Our pitchers did a great job, and we played great defense.”

Milan (24-7, 9-4 Huron League) continues their stretch of playing games on consecutive days with a doubleheader against Whiteford tomorrow, May 22. The 12 Big Red seniors on the team will be recognized in a ceremony before the game. In addition, the Milan lineup in game one will feature all seniors. First pitch is set for 4 p.m.

Game 1 stats

Winning pitcher – Thomas Lindeman (Milan; 5-1) – CG (6 IP), H, 0 R, 9 K – 21 batters faced

Losing pitcher – Cam Ernest (Flat Rock) – 5 1/3 IP, 11 H, 10 R (7 ER), 2 BB, 3 K – 31 batters faced

Milan hit leaders – Lindeman 3; Allen, Hendricks & Miller 2 each

Milan RBI leader – Hendricks 3

Game 2 stats

Winning pitcher – Jake Hendricks (Milan; 2-3) – 5 IP, 3 H, 2 R (1 ER), BB, 10 K – 30 batters faced

Losing pitcher – Brandon Miller (Flat Rock) – 7 IP, 6 H, 6 R (1 ER), 4 BB, 4 K – 37 batters faced

Milan hit leaders – Lindeman, Schrader & Grubke 2 each

Milan RBI leader – Schrader 1

Big Reds sweep Monroe Jefferson

The Milan Big Reds took care of business against Monroe Jefferson on Monday, three days after a disappointing sweep at home. The Big Reds defeated the Bears 2-1 in game one, and 7-2 in game two.

Kyle Schrader threw 5 innings in game two of the Big Reds' sweep of Monroe Jefferson on Monday. Schrader and Zach Allen, who both threw against the Bears, are tied for the team lead in pitching wins with 6. (File photo by Joel Dotson)

Kyle Schrader threw 5 innings in game two of the Big Reds’ sweep of Monroe Jefferson on Monday. Schrader and Zach Allen, who both threw against the Bears, are tied for the team lead in pitching wins with 6. (File photo by Joel Dotson)

The Big Reds struck first in game one. The first four batters of the game reached base, with two singles and two walks. Jake Hendricks hit a one-out single that scored Thomas Lindeman to give Milan a 1-0 lead.

Neither team scored again until the 6th. The Big Reds reached base on two Monroe Jefferson errors in the top half. James Carpenter hit a two-out line drive to right field that was misplayed. Tommy Vinnay, who was a courtesy runner for pitcher Zach Allen, scored from first and extended the Milan lead to 2-0.

Jefferson answered in the bottom half of the inning. Bears shortstop Travis Lamb reached base on an error with one out, stole second base and reached third on a wild pitch. First baseman Noah Zambeck grounded out to third, but Lamb scored on the play and cut the Big Red lead to 2-1.

Milan managed just three hits in the game, but their starting pitcher gave them all the support they needed. Zach Allen, who pitched the previous six innings of the ballgame, set down the Bears in order in the 7th, giving Milan the victory.

The Big Red offense had a strong showing in the 1st inning of game two, with a little help from a lackluster Bears defense. Milan scored five runs on just two hits. Jefferson defenders committed three errors in the inning.

The Bears shrunk Milan’s lead in the 2nd. Milan starting pitcher Kyle Schrader walked the first two batters of the inning, and gave up back-to-back RBI singles following a strikeout. Luckily for Schrader, Jefferson courtesy runner Tim Sanner was caught stealing for the second out of the inning, and Zack Berry was thrown out by Big Red rightfielder Devin Miller trying to score for the final out. Milan held a 5-2 lead after two innings of play.

The Big Reds added two insurance runs in the 5th, when Jake Friese hit a two-out single that scored Hendricks and Jacob Maas. Friese’s hit capped a string of four consecutive Big Reds who reached base.

Bryan Wagner pitched the final two innings for Milan, pitching to seven batters over the two frames. Wagner pitched effectively, inducing an inning-ending double play in the 6th and another double play in the 7th. Wagner allowed a run to score in the final inning, but ended the game with a strikeout. The game-ending strikeout was Wagner’s only one of the 7-3 win.

Milan head coach Adam Gilles was happy to see his team get the sweep. “The only difference between today and the SMCC games (Friday) was that we got the key hits today,” he said. “(Jefferson) kicked it around a bit and we didn’t strike out as much as we did (Friday). It’s tough to come to Jefferson and win two games.”

The Big Reds (22-7, 7-4 Huron League) return to the diamond on Wednesday, May 21 to face Flat Rock at home. Milan will play seven games in four days starting on Wednesday. First pitch of the series against the Rams is set for 4 p.m.