Gielczyk: TC West Taking it One Step at a Time

Getting back to the MHSAA Final Four is clearly the ultimate goal for the Traverse City West baseball team this spring, but it doesn’t consume the Titans’ every waking moment.

Other heights need to be reached first.

The Titans compiled an amazing 41-3 record a year ago on their way to the state semifinals for the first time in school history, winning the Big North Conference title with a 10-0 record before sweeping through the district and regional tournaments.

After pulling off an exciting, 5-4 win over Rockford with a five-run fifth inning in their first ever quarterfinal appearance at Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, the Titans saw their journey end with a 3-1 loss to Warren De La Salle one step away from the state championship game.

While outside sources might be gazing ahead in understandable anticipation of a return trip to the Final Four, the Titans are keeping their focus squarely on the regular season and showing steady and consistent improvement with each outing, and trying not to look past the next opponent on the schedule.

Right now, the Titans are in the process of figuring out what they’re capable of. It’s still an unfinished product, one that will be constantly shaped and molded as the season wears on and experimentation continues.

Veteran coach Matt Bocian feels that there are a lot of guys who can contribute in many different ways, making for a balanced team that will be hard to beat and can progress until it reaches a peak going into post-season action.

"Pitching and defense is going to keep us in ball games," Bocian said. "Our top three guys all have experience, which is definitely going to help them."

Forming the core of the pitching rotation for the Titans are junior Ryan Hayes, sophomore Brendan Pierce and junior Mike Laracey. Bocian expects to throw those three in Big North games.

The defense is anchored by senior Gavin Garmhausen, a three-year starter, in centerfield while senior Carson Rosa and Laracey, when he’s not pitching, and junior AJ Ruskowski will be sharing the catching duties.

"I try to set the bar high every year, and not lower my expectations," Bocian said. "We want to compete every time we get on the field. We want to take it one step at a time. Our number one goal is to win the conference, and hopefully improve every game to be able to fine tune our mechanics and fundamentals.

"So, when we come to post-season we are ready to go, and we’re peaking at that time. We’ve been able to practice outside earlier, and we always travel downstate in the beginning of the season because we don’t know what the weather is going to be like."

Bocian is pleased with some things the Titans are doing well as they opened the season 8-3, but obviously as a coach he’s noticed other things they need to improve on.

It’s a never ending process throughout the season, which the Titans hope will carry them to the state championship game.

One step at a time.

Greg Gielczyk is an award-winning sports columnist and sportwriter who worked a total 36 years — interrupted for an 18-month period from 1997-99 — at the Manistee News Advocate as sports editor until 2006 and is now retired. He currently is a freelance sportswriter for the Ludington Daily News. 

Categories: Baseball