TC St. Francis Eyes 1st Title Since 1990
TRAVERSE CITY – With its entire starting lineup intact from a season ago, the top-ranked Traverse City St. Francis baseball program is back in the state semifinals for the first time since 1992.
Winners of the Lake Michigan Conference, the Gladiators (37-3) will face No. 5 Schoolcraft (25-10) at Michigan State on Friday.
Having already bettered last season’s win total by 12 victories, St. Francis has shut out all five of its opponents this postseason, making quick work of Kingsley (12-0), Benzie Central (10-0), Boyne City (8-0), Gladstone (9-0) and Grand Rapids West Catholic (3-0).
"We kind of expected to win the regional,” St. Francis coach Tom Passinault said. “We were very confident going into the quarters, so there was a little bit of pressure, thinking that those were games that we thought we should win. Going into the semis now, it’s anybody’s game."
St. Francis pitchers have been nearly unhittable on the mound this spring, with senior Joey Muzljakovic (10-0, 0.40 ERA), sophomore Keaton Peck (5-1, 1.91 ERA) and junior Casey Peterson (8-1, 0.15 ERA) providing the arm support.
"We always had the motto of ‘174,’ and you know that’s the distance from our field to the field down in East Lansing,” senior Nathan Kellicut said. “Way back in January we had it in our heads that we were going to make it to East Lansing, and here we are."
Schoolcraft has yet to make an appearance in a state final, but has 11 of its last 14 games, including wins over No. 13 Comstock (10-0) in a district final and No. 4 Homer (6-1) in Tuesday’s quarterfinal.
The 1990 Class D state champion, the only losses for St. Francis this season have come against Division 1 Muskegon Shores, Division 1 No. 16 Woodhaven and Division 4 No. 2 Portland St. Patrick.
The winner of Friday’s semifinal will face either No. 7 Madison Heights Bishop Foley (23-12-1) or unranked Caro (15-21) in Saturday’s state championship game.
First pitch in the semifinal is set for 11:30 a.m.