Although the senior class of the 2015 Milan Big Reds varsity baseball team is just four members strong, the group has had a successful time. The four seniors – Isaac Grubke, Beau Hotz, Thomas Lindeman and Cal Reed – reached the Final Four as sophomores and have cemented their names in the history books.
The Big Reds hoped to finish the season with a home sweep of the visiting Dundee Vikings on Friday, but came up one win short. Milan defeated Dundee 10-6 in game one, but lost a 4-3 heartbreaker in the nightcap.
A six-run 5th inning aided the Big Reds, as they expanded a 4-3 lead to 10-3. The home team built a 4-0 lead before surrendering three runs in the top half of the 5th. Each member of the senior class contributed throughout the contest; Cal Reed scored three runs, while the other seniors had at least one run batted in apiece.
“The seniors did everything you could have asked them to,” Big Red head coach Adam Gilles said.
The bulk of the offense in game two was scored in the contest’s opening inning. Dundee scored three runs to begin the game, while Milan answered with two of their own in the bottom of the 1st. The Vikings added an insurance run in the 3rd.
The Big Reds squandered a key scoring chance in the 6th. Milan had the bases loaded with no outs, as the home team was aided by two hit-by-pitches and a single. Pinch-hitter Jordan Hendricks lined out to Dundee centerfielder Zach Kopka; Kopka then fired a throw to second baseman Tyler Allen that doubled off Milan’s Zach Allen. Two batters later, Lindeman hit a drive to second, which Tyler Allen snagged for the final out of the inning.
“They legit beat us,” Gilles said, referring to the nightcap. “We made the mental mistake on the bases in the (6th), not tagging up when we’re screaming, ‘Tag, tag, tag’. Dundee’s outfield saved four or five runs today.
“I wish the seniors could go out with their 30th win, but it’s still the second-most wins in school history (with 29).”
Gilles also thought highly of the senior class, saying that the group is one of the better small senior classes he’s had as the Milan head coach. “They rank up there with the 2006/2007 class,” he said.
One of the seniors – Lindeman – played his final games as a Big Red against Dundee. The senior utility player, who played both games on Friday as the starting shortstop, will have surgery on the torn labrum in his throwing shoulder next week. He will miss the playoffs as a result.
Lindeman finishes his season leading Milan in six offensive categories, including batting average (.405), hits (53), singles (45), runs (52), and stolen bases (39).
“You can’t replace the way (Thomas) takes over the whole field,” Gilles said. “You can’t replace his baseball sense, his speed or the way he visualizes things before they happen.”
Milan finishes the regular season 29-9. The Big Reds finish this season with one more win than last year, taking over the second-highest win total in team history from the 2014 squad.
Milan will have an eight-day layoff, next playing in districts on May 30 in Chelsea.
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Game 1 stats
Hit leaders: I. Grubke, Dan Armstrong 3 each; Lindeman & Daniel Norzaimi 2 each (team had 14 hits)
Run leaders: Reed 3; Lindeman & Hotz 2 each
RBI leaders: Jaden Riling 3; I. Grubke & Armstrong 2 each
Winning pitcher: Eric Price (Milan; 6-1) – 4.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R (3 ER), BB, 7 K
Losing pitcher: Jay Briggs (Dundee) – 4 IP, 10 H, 4 R (3 ER), 3 BB, K
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Game 2 stats
Hit leaders: Lindeman 2; six players w/ 1 hit each
Run leaders: Lindeman 2; I. Grubke 1
RBI leaders: I. Grubke, Norzaimi, Hotz 1 each
Winning pitcher: Gage Campbell (Dundee) – CG (7 IP), 8 H, 3 R (3 ER), BB, 3 K
Losing pitcher: Beau Hotz (Milan; 3-2) – 3 IP, 6 H, 4 R (4 ER), BB