Two of the area’s top baseball teams shared the field Thursday afternoon as Dearborn Divine Child traveled to New Boston Huron. The host Chiefs entered the game ranked No. 1 in the state in Division 2 and overall both teams entered the game with a combined record of 13-3 in the young season.
Divine Child at New Boston Huron Baseball Photo Gallery
It was a pitching duel throughout, but Huron, behind a dominant pitching performance from Cole Grunwald, managed to pull off a 5-1 victory over the Falcons.
The low scores affair should have surprised no one.
Heading into the game, the Chiefs’ pitching team was allowing about three runs a game on average. The Divine Child pitchers had 19 total runs in the team’s first nine contests, including nine in Game 1 of a doubleheader the night before against the University of Detroit Jesuits.
It was Grunwald’s effort on the bump that ultimately put Huron (7-1, 2-1 Huron League) on top Thursday.
“He’s really something,” Chiefs coach Phil Yancey said. “He’s been our go-to man since last season. He’s just an all-around player, a good pitcher and a good hitter.”
Grunwald is one of many talented players returning from a 2021 Huron team that reached the D2 state semifinals.
Divine Child (7-3, 5-1 CHSL AA) scored his lone run Wednesday in the first period on a two-out single by Tyler Kostora. Grunwald started the game with two straight strikeouts, but an error and a hit by Owen Avery extended the inning.
Those first-inning hits were two of three total hits for the visitors. Grunwald at one point struck out 15 consecutive batters before giving up a single and a walk with two out in the sixth.
“We didn’t make any adjustments until our second and third at bats,” Falcons coach Dan Deegan said. “(Grunwald) is a good pitcher and he’s a good team. They went to the semi-finals last year for a reason.
“We were happy with our pitch. Our starting pitch has been pretty good so far this year. It was (John Millen’s) first start of the season and he pitched really well, gave us a chance to to win.”
Grunwald went the distance for Huron, giving up just one unearned run, walking one while striking out 11 batters for Divine Child. The senior spoke about the adjustments made after the first run.
“Our coach came up to me and said ‘hey, everything is fine,'” Grunwald said. “We made a mistake on the field and I kind of pulled myself together after that. I’m just trying to do my job as a pitcher and throwing strikes. I knew my team had my back.”
Offensively for the Chiefs, there were plenty of smallball plays — six stolen bases and three sacrifices, to be exact — to eliminate five points. After leveling things at 1-1 in the second, they took the lead with two points in the fourth before adding a point in the fifth and one in the sixth.
The hosts ended up hitting 10 hits in the win
Matt Williams, Rory Callahan and Connor Grant each had two hits. Callahan was responsible for the team’s only extra hit, a brace to start the rally in fourth. Grant and Jaden Morse each had an RBI while 9th overall Issac Smith had two RBIs.
Divine Child starter John Millen gave his team a chance to win, scattering those 10 hits and two walks in six innings of work.
For Huron, it was one of five games the team was scheduled to play over four consecutive days.
The Chiefs beat Huron League foe Monroe SMCC 6-2 the day before and will resume league play Friday with a game at Carleton Airport. On Saturday, Huron will visit Allen Park for a non-championship doubleheader.
The Chiefs entered the 2022 season ranked first in the state in D2, following their run to the state semifinals last spring.
Grunwald explained how high expectations resonated with the team at the start of this season.
“It’s always been on our minds,” he said. “We know we have a lot of good ball players here. But we’re just going to focus on now. Once we get closer to the end, we’ll really focus on our throwing. We know we have great personal throwing this season.”
Meanwhile, Divine Child lost three of four after winning six straight games to open the season.
“We’re a team in desperate need of practice,” Deegan said. “Defensively we really moved today. We haven’t trained for 12 days with this crazy weather and the holidays. Today and yesterday we made a ton of mistakes and it shows that we have to train .”
The previous day, the Falcons lost the front of a 9-4 doubleheader to UD Jesuit but then edged the Cubs 17-2 in the nightcap.
Next up for Divine Child is a league doubleheader on Tuesday at Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard. Two days later, the Falcons will hit the road for two games at Macomb Lutheran North.