LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – When the bracket for the 59th annual Dean Shippey Capital Diamond Classic was announced, the Grand Ledge and DeWitt baseball teams were sitting high above the rest.
The top two teams in the Diamond Classic played their first games of the tournament on Thursday. Grand Ledge welcomed in Portland, who defeated Williamston in the first round, 5-1. DeWitt played host to East Lansing, who knocked off St. Johns in the first round, 12-7.
The Comets wasted no time getting the party started. In the first inning, sophomore Caleb Estrada, who was called up to the varsity team on Thursday, hit a 2-run double to the right-centerfield gap.
Grand Ledge doubled its lead in the 4th inning, thanks to a two-run home run over the left-field wall by junior Nathan Droste.
Down 4-0 in the 5th inning, Portland cracked the scoreboard with two runs but had a chance for more with the bases loaded. Comets’ junior starting pitcher Cole Mance got out of the bases-loaded jam by recording a strikeout and a flyout to end the inning.
The Comets would add three more runs to the total to take down Portland, 7-2. Grand Ledge will take on Okemos in the semifinals, on June 2 at 5 p.m. at Kircher/ Municipal Park.
DeWitt found itself in a pitching duel with East Lansing. After a first-inning run by the Panthers, the bats, much like the weather, went cold.
The good news for DeWitt is that the lone run was all starting pitcher Ohlen Bond needed to help punch the Panthers’ ticket to the semifinals, thanks to a 1-0 win over East Lansing.
Bond pitched a complete game shutout (7 innings) to improve to a perfect 9-0 this season.
“He did what he’s done all year. He’s a bulldog, and he got in some jams and made some quality pitches, and defense came through for him,” DeWitt baseball coach, Alan Shankel said.
“Tonight, he was just absolutely dominant,” DeWitt senior catcher, Grant Uyl said. “There are some games where you have to use your defense, and if our defense plays like it did tonight, it’s a good thing we got for us.”
“I took the season off of football and decided to play baseball throughout the fall and through the winter. It definitely helped me a lot and gave me the confidence to go out there and pitch how I did,” Bond said.
DeWitt will take on Eaton Rapids in the Diamond Classic semifinals, on June 2 at 7 p.m. at Kircher/ Municipal Park.