Bittersweet: Big Reds split series with Dundee on Senior Day

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 2015 senior class. From left to right: Isaac Grubke, Thomas Lindeman, Beau Hotz, Cal Reed.

The 2015 senior class. From left to right: Isaac Grubke, Thomas Lindeman, Beau Hotz, Cal Reed.

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.

* * *

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

* * *

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

SMCC-Milan game summary (Wednesday)

Final – Milan 4, SMCC 3 — Milan officially Huron League champions (had clinched at least a share of conference crown Monday)

Hit leaders: Isaac Grubke 3; Daniel Norzaimi 2 (team had 9 hits)

Run leaders: Chase Riling, Dan Armstrong, Brendon Ferenczy, Cal Reed 1 each

RBI leaders: Thomas Lindeman 2; I. Grubke, Zach Allen 1 each

Winning pitcher: I. Grubke (Milan; 6-2) – CG (7 IP), 6 H, 3 R (2 ER), BB, K

Losing pitcher: Sean Strube (SMCC) – IP, 2 H, R (unearned), BB, K

* * *

Game notes: Milan had 3-0 lead after two innings. SMCC tied the game in the bottom of the 6th (scored one run in the 5th, two in the 6th).

Winning play: Lindeman one-out single, top 7.

Final play of game: Runner picked off at 3rd base, runners were on 2nd and 3rd with two outs at the time.

Big Reds win first Huron League title since 2009 in split with Grosse Ile

The Milan Big Reds knew what was stake heading into Monday’s doubleheader with the Grosse Ile Red Devils. A Big Red win in game one would guarantee the 2nd Huron League title since the team joined the conference in 2002, and the first conference title for Milan since 2009.

Zach Allen led his team to their first Huron League championship in 5 seasons with a complete game in game one against Grosse Ile on Monday. (File photo / S. Dotson)

Zach Allen led his team to their first Huron League championship in 5 seasons with a complete game in game one against Grosse Ile on Monday. (File photo / S. Dotson)

The Big Reds did just that, taking the opener 9-3.

A six-run 1st inning proved to be the key in the victory. What began as a 1-0 deficit turned into a 6-1 lead; 11 Big Red batters came to the plate during the frame, stringing six hits over the course of the inning.

Zach Allen also did his part, pitching a complete game on the mound; Allen allowed three runs and three hits over the duration of his outing while striking out eight.

“Zach settled down after the first inning, and we knew we were going to score some runs,” head coach Adam Gilles said. “It feels good to be Huron League champs.”

Game two had many ups and downs for the home squad.

The nightcap remained scoreless until the top of the 4th, when the visiting Red Devils scored five runs on 3 hits and 3 Big Red errors.

Milan remained hitless until the bottom of the 5th; a leadoff single by Eric Price led a comeback attempt in the frame. Trailing 6-0, the Big Reds narrowed the gap to two. Balks and wild pitches by the three Grosse Ile pitchers who threw in the inning aided the Big Red effort.

Milan failed to add on despite having two runners on, as a two-out groundout by Dan Armstrong ended the rally.

The Big Reds also blew chances to score in the final two innings. The home team had two runners on with no outs in the 6th, only to have two popouts and a groundball to the pitcher end the threat. In the 7th, the home team found themselves with runners on 1st and 2nd and two outs, but a popout by Price – the tying run – ended the contest.

“We gave (Grosse Ile) five unearned runs in that game,” Gilles said. “That’s pretty depressing. But at the end of the day, we’re the Huron League champs. That’s what we’re going to take away from this.”

Milan (28-7, 11-2 Huron League) returns to the field on Wednesday with a single game on the road against SMCC. The Big Reds defeated the Falcons in the matchup earlier this season; the contest is set to begin at 4:30 p.m.

* * *

Game 1 stats

Hit leaders: Daniel Norzaimi, Armstrong, Brendon Ferenczy 2 each

Run leaders: Jordan Hendricks, Cal Reed 2 each

RBI leaders: Thomas Lindeman, Ferenczy 2 each

Winning pitcher: Zach Allen (Milan; 7-0) – CG (7 IP), 3 H, 3 R (1 ER), 2 BB, 8 K

Losing pitcher: Tyler Groat (Grosse Ile) – 5 IP, 9 H, 9 R (3 ER), BB, K

* * *

Game 2 stats

Hit leaders: Allen, Hendricks, Price, Isaac Grubke 1 each (only hits of game)

Run leaders: Lindeman, Kyle Hosein, Price, I. Grubke 1 each

RBI leader: Allen 1 (only RBI of game)

Winning pitcher: Chris Butka (Grosse Ile) – 4 IP, H, 2 R (2 ER), 5 BB

Losing pitcher: Konrad Jeppesen (Milan; 4-1) – 3 IP, 5 H, 4 R (2 ER), BB, 3 K

Save: Kyle Kish (Grosse Ile) – 2.2 IP, 2 H, 2 BB

Milan splits Saturday doubleheader

Milan head coach Adam Gilles knew that the two contests on Saturday afternoon – against Detroit Jesuit and Orchard Lake St. Mary’s – were going to be tough battles for his Big Reds.

Jordan Hendricks was one of four players with two RBIs in Saturday's game one against Detroit Jesuit. Hendricks also had two hits in the second contest of the day against Orchard Lake St. Mary's. (File photo)

Jordan Hendricks was one of four players with two RBIs in Saturday’s game one against Detroit Jesuit. Hendricks also had two hits in the second contest of the day against Orchard Lake St. Mary’s. (File photo)

The two games were polar opposites; Milan won the opener against Jesuit 10-4 and dropped the nightcap to St. Mary’s by a 9-0 score.

The Big Reds’ offense was in full force in the contest with the Cubs, as the unit knocked 16 hits off of Jesuit pitchers. Milan built a 5-0 lead through the first 3-and-a-half innings, but nearly gave it away late.

Down 5-2 heading into the bottom of the 6th, Jesuit scored two in the frame and nearly tied the ballgame – had it not been for a botched steal of home.

The Big Reds put the game away in the top of the 7th, using the momentum from the final out of the previous inning to score five runs.

The finale with St. Mary’s had the opposite turnout. Milan could not overcome an early 4-0 deficit and mustered just five hits in the game. The Big Red defense also struggled, committing three errors over seven innings.

Overall, Milan head coach Adam Gilles was happy with his team’s performance. “I really wanted to get a win over Jesuit and at least compete with St. Mary’s,” he said. “Eric threw a lot of strikes (in game one), and the offense did a great job. There were two errors that pretty much doomed us (against St. Mary’s).

“It was a good experience for our players.”

The Big Reds (26-7) begin the final stretch of regular season games with a doubleheader against Grosse Ile tomorrow afternoon; only the first contest counts for league standings. Milan enters the week with a 10-2 record in the Huron League.

The Big Reds can clinch at least a share of the conference title with a win or Monroe Jefferson loss to SMCC.

First pitch of tomorrow’s series with Grosse Ile is set for 4:30 p.m. Zach Allen will pitch the opener, while Konrad Jeppesen will pitch game two.

* * *

Game 1 stats (vs. Detroit Jesuit)

Hit leaders: Thomas Lindeman & Beau Hotz 3 each; Isaac Grubke, Daniel Norzaimi & Dan Armstrong 2 each

Run leaders: Lindeman 3; Norzaimi 2

RBI leaders: Lindeman, Grubke, Hotz, Jordan Hendricks 2 each

Winning pitcher: Eric Price (Milan; 5-1) – 5.2 IP, 5 H, 4 R (1 ER), 2 BB, 3 K

Losing pitcher: Waymond Lemon (Det. Jesuit) – 3 IP, 7 H, 4 R (4 ER), 2 BB, K

Save: Konrad Jeppesen (Milan; 1) – 1.1 IP, 2 H

* * *

Game 2 stats (vs. OLSM)

Hit leaders: Lindeman 2; Hendricks, Aaron Taylor & Brendon Ferenczy 1 each

Milan pitching decision: Loss for Jaden Riling (1-3 on the season) – 4 IP, 6 H, 5 R (1 ER), 2 BB, K

Hotz guides Big Reds to season sweep of Riverview

Beau Hotz had himself a day.

The senior utility player made the most of Friday afternoon, as he pitched a complete game shutout and led his Milan Big Reds with two RBIs in the 5-0 victory over the Riverview Pirates.

Beau Hotz threw a complete game shutout on Friday afternoon, picking up his 3rd win of the season. (File photo)

Beau Hotz threw a complete game shutout on Friday afternoon, picking up his 3rd win of the season. (File photo)

Hotz allowed just two hits to Riverview batters over the contest’s seven innings while walking two and striking out three.

The Big Reds scored runs in the 1st, 3rd and 5th innings, with the home team scoring three of their five runs in the 3rd. Six Milan players combined for the team’s 10 hits; Jordan Hendricks led the team with three hits in the ballgame.

With the win, Milan improves to 25-6 overall and 10-2 in the Huron League; the Big Reds have two Huron League games remaining on the schedule.

A Milan win over the Grosse Ile Red Devils or a Monroe Jefferson loss on Monday will clinch the conference championship for the Big Reds.

Milan head coach Adam Gilles was happy to walk away with the Friday win. “It’s pretty nervewracking (to get the win) when you know the magic number is two,” Gilles said. “Beau threw lights-out today. It’s a good win to get going into a tough tournament tomorrow.”

The Big Reds have a quick turnaround, returning to baseball action with a doubleheader at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s tomorrow. Game one will be played against Detroit Jesuit, while Milan will take on the host squad following the contest against the Cubs.

Eric Price and Jaden Riling will be the starting pitchers for the doubleheader, with Konrad Jeppesen pitching in relief. Zach Allen is also a possible reliever for Saturday’s contests, but will only pitch if necessary.

The opener against Jesuit is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m.

(Editor’s note: The original article incorrectly stated that Milan clinched at least a share of the conference title with the win over Riverview. There is now an updated version of where the Big Reds stand.)

* * *

Game stats

Hit leaders: Hendricks 3; Hotz & Daniel Norzaimi 2 each

Run leaders: Norzaimi 2; Hendricks, Thomas Lindeman & Cal Reed 1 each

RBI leaders: Hotz 2; Lindeman, J. Riling & Dan Armstrong 1 each

Winning pitcher: Beau Hotz (Milan; 3-1) – CG (7 IP), 3 H, 2 BB, 3 K

Losing pitcher: Dan Rice (Riverview) – CG (6 IP), 10 H, 5 R (4 ER), 2 BB, 4 K

Milan splits Wednesday doubleheader with Flat Rock

The Milan Big Reds returned to the diamond for the first time in 6 days on Wednesday afternoon. The time off showed at times throughout the two contests with the Flat Rock Rams. Milan split the series with the Rams, winning game one 5-1 and falling 6-4 in game two.

Zach Allen struck out 10 Flat Rock batters in Milan's 5-1 win over the Rams. (File photo)

Zach Allen struck out 10 Flat Rock batters in Milan’s 5-1 win over the Rams. (File photo)

Game one’s victory was aided by Zach Allen and Isaac Grubke. Allen struck out 10 Flat Rock batters in his pitching appearance, while Grubke knocked in four of the five Big Red runs batted in.

The Milan starter overcame a 1-0 deficit in the first inning and two runners in scoring position in the 3rd inning to get the complete-game win; the victory was his 6th of the season.

Game two was a difficult loss for the Big Reds.

Milan, playing as the home team due to a rainout in April, jumped out to a 3-0 lead after two innings.

The tide of the contest turned after Allen hit into an inning-ending double play in the 3rd, when Milan was up 3-1. Grubke, the starting pitcher for game two, allowed seven consecutive Rams to reach base before in the top of the 4th before being relieved by Eric Price. When the frame was over, five Rams had crossed the plate; Flat Rock led 6-3 after the inning.

The Big Reds plated one more run in the 5th, but could not muster another rally. The team had just one hit over the final 2 innings, with three players reaching base over that time.

Isaac Grubke had five RBIs in Milan's two contests against Flat Rock on Wednesday, four of which came in game 1. (File photo)

Isaac Grubke had five RBIs in Milan’s two contests against Flat Rock on Wednesday, four of which came in game 1. (File photo)

Milan head coach Adam Gilles had mixed feelings after the split. “Zach Allen pitched an outstanding game (in game one),” he said. “Isaac was cruising along in game two, things happened, and he seemed to get rattled after a couple of fly balls.”

Gilles acknowledged the time off did not help his players. “The six days off we had – we haven’t had that much time off yet this year,” he said. “It didn’t seem like our guys were sitting in first place in the league and keep rolling along. It felt like they were content with (winning) one. We know other teams (in the conference) are winning, but it would be easier if we won games ourselves.

“It was disappointing that we didn’t do that today.”

Gilles also said that the news about star player Thomas Lindeman – whose season will be cut short due to a tear in the labrum of his throwing shoulder – did not affect the team too much. “We dealt with it once already,” he said. “Now that they know that he can only hit for good, everybody feels bad for him. As a team, we have to move on.”

Milan (24-6, 9-2 Huron League) will return home on Friday for a game against Riverview. This will be the third matchup between the two teams in 2015; the Big Reds won both contests against the Pirates, one of which counted toward conference standings.

Friday’s matchup with Riverview will begin at 4:30 p.m.

Tough break: Lindeman’s Big Red career to end May 27 due to torn labrum

Thomas Lindeman’s Milan Big Red career will end a bit sooner than planned.

Thomas Lindeman finishes his Big Red pitching career with 17 wins. (File photo by Scott Dotson)

Thomas Lindeman finishes his Big Red pitching career with 17 wins. (File photo by Scott Dotson)

Lindeman, who has been battling a shoulder injury since early April, has been diagnosed with a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder. He will be able to contribute offensively and on the basepaths for Milan, but his time in the field – including on the mound – is over.

The senior star’s father confirmed the situation by text message. The utility player will play for the remainder of the regular season, which will conclude on May 22 against Dundee, but he will be unavailable for the playoffs; district play begins on May 30.

Lindeman ends his pitching career with 17 wins, 10 behind the team record. In two pitching appearances this season, Thomas won both games. He threw 13 innings over the two contests, allowing one run over that span while striking out 12 batters.

Lindeman’s future in baseball at Eastern Michigan University will remain intact, however, the time at which he begins baseball activities will be unknown. The decision to have surgery was made with the future in mind. “The next four years are more important than the next four weeks,” his father Tommy said through a text. “I feel bad for (Thomas) though. It’s his senior year. He can’t field, can’t pitch – only hit.”