Cardinals overcome 'lazy' play, show grit against rival Snowbirds in regional final
AST JORDAN – Johannesburg-Lewiston allowed four early runs against rival Gaylord St. Mary during the Division 4 baseball regional championship Saturday at East Jordan.
When the Cardinals finally got the last out in the second inning, their players talked with one another about how they needed to improve their effort before they reached the dugout. Waiting for them there was their calm, even-tempered but visibly frustrated coach.
"We didn't come here to do this!" coach Cody Proctor shouted at his boys. "We didn't come here to play lazy baseball, and you're playing lazy baseball right now. Lazy baseball is Not how we've gotten this far.
"Now, let's go play baseball the way we know how!"
The Cardinals responded immediately.
First, Sheldon Huff singled home Dan Runyan to trim J-L's deficit to only three runs. Then, one at-bat later, Tommy Runyan smacked a grand slam, putting the Cardinals ahead 5-4 just mere minutes after Proctor's plea with his team to step up its effort.
And J-L continued to play that kind of inspired baseball until Dan Runyan was tragically injured in the fifth. St. Mary's Joseph Moeggenberg raced home from third but Runyan was standing in front of the dish, waiting to make the tag for a routine out. Instead, Moeggenberg plowed through Runyan, forcibly using his left forearm to smash in Runyan's face.
Runyan later went to the emergency room where he learned he broke multiple bones in his face. Moeggenberg was tossed from the game.
Not only did the play take J-L's best defender – and one of its best emotional leaders – off the field, it sucked all the levelheadedness away from their dugout. The Cardinals could never quite rebound from the testy incident, which allowed the No. 7 Snowbirds to go on and capitalize, ultimately pulling off the 15-6 victory to capture the regional title and advance to the super regional – where they downed Norway 14-9 to earn their fourth-straight berth into the final four.
"I don't want to point fingers or anything like that," Proctor said. "I know the game is intense and heated. I know the kid, I know the Moeggenberg kid, and I don't want to say that it was anything out of line because it's part of the game. But I don't necessarily agree with what happened.
"At the time, I thought it was going to fire us right up. And it went the other way a little bit instead."
Immediately after the play, the Snowbirds tacked on a pair of runs, including Brady Hunter homering to left-center to score Conrad Korte, Logan Murrell and himself, making it a 9-5 score.
The Cardinals went with Huff on the mound in the sixth, but he was too energetic from Runyan's collision to zero in against the Snowbirds, Proctor said. St. Mary added sixth runs in that frame, all but putting any chance of a J-L comeback out of reach.
"When I went out to see him on the mound, he said, 'Coach, I don't know why I can't find my strike zone,'" Proctor recalled. "I said, 'Because you're way too amped up. You're so mad about (missing out on a strikeout) when you had the bases loaded, and you're just too amped up.'
"I wanted him to relax. He's still young, and a lot of people forget that he's only a sophomore. It's a big game, a big situation, and it just kind of fell apart for us."
It wasn't all bad for the Cardinals, who finished the season 20-11 overall and won their first district title in five seasons.
Between J-L's early comeback attempt, Tommy Runyan's grand slam and the Cardinals rallying behind new catcher Matt Ross, the team showed just how far its come since Proctor took over the squad three seasons ago.
"It was a tough loss, but I'm so proud of our teammates," Tommy Runyan said. "We came back – against all odds – and we got runs and competed up until the end."
When Dan Runyan exited the game, Proctor called on Ross to replace him at catcher, a position Ross hadn't gotten any meaningful reps at all year. Ross did well, blocking wild pitches, and he tried his best to limit his mistakes.
"I was kind of nervous," he said. "Not about going in but of messing up and losing it for us. It was just all going through my head."
Ross said he kept reminding himself to stay low, ensuring to block the ball.
The umpires paused the game so Huff could warm up Ross.
"I was thinking, 'Alright, I know what to do. I've got to try my hardest to leave it all on the field,'" Ross said.
Hunter led all batters by going 3-for-5 with six RBIs, while Murrell drove in three runs and Steven Koscielniak had a pair of RBIs.
Drew Koenig pitched 5 2/3 innings for the Snowbirds, allowing five hits, six earned runs and two walks but striking out 10. Hunter closed the door by striking out one in 1 1/3 innings.
Tanner Shimel drove in J-L's only other run. The senior also started on the mound, striking out four, allowing five earned runs and walking four before Huff came in and finished the game with one strikeout and six earned runs.
After the game, the Cardinals met under the shade of a tree at a junkyard across the street from the baseball diamond. Proctor told his players how proud he was of them.
"It just shows a lot about them," Proctor said, referencing how his boys responded after he called out their lazy play. "I probably didn't have to give that speech to them. They know. ...
"It just says a lot about what type of kids they are – they're not going to give up. It doesn't matter if we're down 35, they're going to respond when they need to."
Cardinals pull off postseason comeback vs. Glen Lake, inch closer to regional title
It didn't take long for Johannesburg-Lewiston baseball coach Cody Proctor to text Matt Nowicki with his excitement for this weekend.
Kevin Gehringer stole home to score the winning run in the fifth, and the Cardinals toughed out a 5-3 victory over Maple City Glen Lake in the Division 4 regional opener Wednesday at Atlanta.
J-L advanced to Saturday's regional semifinal at East Jordan, drawing rival Gaylord St. Mary. The Cardinals and the seventh-ranked Snowbirds split earlier in the season. The winner will face either Ski Valley foe Inland Lakes or Norway in the super regional championship.
After St. Mary topped Central Lake 9-0 in its own regional opener later in the night, the Snowbirds, coached by Nowicki, were excited to learn they were going to face their cross-county rival again.
"It's working the same way with us over here," said Proctor, who, with the win, improved his coaching winning percentage to just over .500. "I have huge respect for them, and I told Matt that we wanted to go back at it again because it's great for the Ski Valley Conference, especially with there being three teams there. I would love to get through St. Mary and see Indian River.
"But I know both teams are ready to play. I texted Matt and congratulated him on the win, and he texted back, 'See you Saturday. It should be fun.' And that's exactly what I think it should be, too."
A trip to the final four at Michigan State University is on the line this weekend.
"It's a huge game for us," Proctor continued. "It's a huge game for the rivalry and a huge game for the friendships the kids have made with each other playing travel baseball together.
"I look forward to it, win, lose or draw. It's going to be a good game."
In the top of the fourth, Glen Lake's Drew Peterson smacked a two-run home run, giving the Lakers a 2-0 advantage.
The Cardinals (20-10) didn't waver, however. First, in the bottom of the frame, Tanner Shimel hit a solo home run to trim that deficit to one run, and then a few at-bats later, Tyler Madej sent a shot to right, allowing Preston Marlatt and Lucas Newell enough time to scoot home.
"When they came in between innings, I said, 'Hey, we talked for the last two weeks about winning every single inning,' and we were the home team," Proctor said. "So we had to win that inning, so we scored three runs that inning and our dugout was rocking. When we went up 3-2, the kids were ignited again. They did not lose any fire. They never went down."
Newell added an insurance run in the sixth by scoring on an error. Glen Lake's Chase Richter homered in the seventh, but J-L ended the Lakers' rally two batters later to secure the win.
More home runs (three) were hit in the game than J-L had hits (two), as Tommy Runyan collected the Cardinals' only other hit.
Shimel pitched 5 1/3 inning, allowing two hits, two earned runs and one walk but striking out eight. Proctor pulled the senior once he reached the 75-pitch limit to preserve him for Saturday's super regional.
Sheldon Huff closed the door, going 1 2/3 innings, giving up just the home run to Richter in the seventh and no walks.
Now the Cardinals are looking ahead to this weekend.
"We know what's ahead of us," Proctor said. "I'm already focused on that. We've got goals to accomplish, and winning tonight's game was another step toward that."
Cardinals claim district title, now hope to be 4-0 in their 'new season'
ATLANTA – A combination of stellar pitching from Tanner Shimel and Sheldon Huff and huge at-bats have the Johannesburg-Lewiston baseball team still alive in the Division 4 playoffs.
The Cardinals, relying on a 5-0 lead early, defeated Hillman 6-4 in the district championship Saturday at Atlanta – their first title in five years. They needed a pair of home runs to blank Rogers City in the district semifinal earlier in the day.
Now they’re gearing up for the regional opener Wednesday against Maple City Glen Lake, which will also be played at Atlanta.
“For me, as a coach, this has been awesome,” coach Cody Proctor said. “This weekend was pretty good and a pretty cool experience and the kids are excited, but now we’re moving on. We’ve got bigger goals we want to accomplish right now.”
Shimel grounded out in the second inning against the Tigers but gave Dan Runyan and Kevin Gehringer enough time to score the winning runs as part of a five-run effort in the opening two frames.
Hillman went on to score four of the next five runs in a comeback attempt, but Huff’s pitching closed the doors for the Cardinals.
Huff started the game but Proctor used Shimel and Lucas Newell as middle relief to attempt to put the game away. When that didn’t necessarily work, Huff reentered the game and got the final outs in the seventh.
Huff finished with five strikeouts, walked five and allowed four hits and three earned runs.
Offensively, Runyan, Preston Marlatt and Austin Carroll collected two hits apiece, and Shimel led with three RBIs.
“We came out screaming again in the second game,” Proctor said. “We slowed down there for about three innings, though, and I don’t know if we lost focus or what? But we lost our energy a bit.”
The Cardinals’ win over Rogers City was just as impressive. Huff and Tommy Runyan each homered, but it was Shimel’s effort on the mound that ensured the victory.
Shimel went the distance, striking out four, walking one, allowing no earned runs and giving up only three hits in 90 pitches.
“He has been absolutely lights-out for us,” Proctor said. “Since Game 1, when he didn’t throw well against Pellston, there has been nobody who can argue that there’s a better pitcher in the league.”
“Those guys from Rogers City and Hillman wouldn’t argue there’s a better pitcher in the area at this time either.”
Now the Cardinals shift their attention to Glen Lake. A win over the Lakers and J-L (19-10) advances to the super regional Saturday at East Jordan where a likely matchup with rival Gaylord St. Mary awaits.
“We’re ready, and I know that Glen Lake is good,” Proctor said. “If we play like we did in the first game (against Rogers City) and play how we have shown lately, I have confidence we can beat anybody we play.
“We’re definitely not looking ahead, but since we’ve gotten out of our slump from a few weeks ago, we’ve just been focusing on the little things. The big things (like winning district titles) tend to take care of themselves if you take care of the little things.”
“That’s why, with our last (regular season game) against Bellaire, we’ve switched our focus and started a new season. Now we’re 3-0 in that new season, and our goal is to be 4-0 on Wednesday."
Shimel, Cardinals beat Posen to open D4 district playoffs
Johannesburg-Lewiston had a tough stretch of baseball this month.
After upsetting rival Gaylord St. Mary, the Cardinals went on to lose six of their next nine games.
Fast forward to Tuesday's Division 4 pre-district at Atlanta. J-L had a rough first inning, committing three errors, giving up five hits and three earned runs and allowing Posen to grab all the momentum early on.
But the Cardinals didn't back down. Trailing 3-1 entering the fourth, Tanner Shimel smacked a bases-clearing triple, providing a boost as part of a five-run inning. Then, in the sixth, Tyler Madej had a two-run double to ensure J-L would complete the playoff comeback.
The Cardinals wound up winning 11-3, advancing to Saturday's district semifinal against Rogers City, also to be held at Atlanta.
"I told them after the game that, two weeks ago, we don't win that game (during our losing streak)," Proctor said. "Tonight we played like the baseball team I've been talking about us being. That baseball team showed up today and fought back when they needed to.
"They didn't let one bad inning keep them from doing what they had to do."
Posen pitcher Jared Sharpe started out hot, striking out six while relying on an array of different pitches, including a knuckleball. But fatigue set in and the Cardinals finally started hitting him in the third.
J-L had its offensive breakthrough in the fourth, erasing its slow start.
"We started out rough in the first inning," Proctor said. "It seemed like everything
went (Posen's) way. But Sharpe got a little wild, and we started hitting him.
"Two weeks ago, we don't win that game. Our mindset this time, though, was to come back and get one in the second and start playing defense the right way, and that's what they started doing.
"Tanner's triple is when things just really ignited for us. The atmosphere and the whole place just ignited around us. We figured ourselves out."
Austin Carroll and Tommy Runyan each went 2-for-4 with one RBI at the place, while Preston Marlatt also drove in a run.
On the mound, Shimel lasted 5 2/3 innings, giving up 10 hits, one walk and no earned runs. The senior ace struck out nine. Sheldon Huff closed the door in the final 1 1/3 frames, allowing no hits, earned runs or walks and fanning a pair of Vikings.
"They hit Tanner fairly hard, especially early on and right before Sheldon came in," Proctor said. "He wasn't hit hitting his spots, but then he came on and started to paint the corners. He became tough to hit."
Proctor said the Cardinals (17-10) will be ready for Rogers City's pitching but said the Hurons have a solid batting lineup. The winner of the district semifinal matchup will face either Hillman or the host Huskies in the championship Saturday afternoon.
Proctor's dock installers get back in the win column
To get back to playing great baseball again, Johannesburg-Lewiston had to get away from the sport entirely.
Losers of six of its last nine games following an upset win over No. 9 Gaylord St. Mary, the Cardinals lost the mojo they were riding early on this spring.
So coach Cody Proctor gave the team the night off from practice Tuesday night. Instead of shagging balls in the outfield or taking batting practice, the team installed docks for residents in Lewiston, which also generated some income for the baseball program.
The rest and somewhat relaxation paid off, as the Cardinals swept visiting Bellaire 12-1 and 12-3 to wrap up the regular season Thursday.
“We took the night off and hung out together,” Proctor said. “We just talked a bit and focused on what it takes to be the best team we can be. We said no one can work harder than us. We need to hustle better than anyone else on the field because that’s what we can control.”
An eight-run fourth inning broke open Game 1 for the Cardinals, who saw Tanner Shimel go 3-for-4 at the plate with one triple and four RBIs. Preston Marlatt was 2-for-3 with one RBI, and Tyler Madej drove in two runs.
On the mound, Shimel lasted five innings, striking out five and allowing seven hits, one walk and no earned runs.
“Once we got back to doing the little stuff, good stuff started happening, and that’s how you’re going to outwork everybody else,” Proctor said.
J-L (16-10, 11-5 SVC) trailed 3-0 to open the nightcap, but it scored six runs in the bottom of the first inning to kicks-tart its comeback.
Sophomore Sheldon Huff smacked his first career home run.
“He absolutely tattered [sic] the ball,” Proctor said. “He just killed it. It landed in the middle of the track’s parking lot.”
Shimel (one RBI), Lucas Newell (two RBIs) and Dan Runyan (three RBIs) each collected two hits. Austin Carroll was 3-for-4 batting with one RBI and a pair of triples.
Huff earned the win pitching, going six innings, striking out nine and allowing five hits, three earned runs and no walks.
The Cardinals begin the Division 4 playoffs against Posen during a pre-district matchups Tuesday, May 28, at Atlanta.
“The kids are finally back to where they need to be,” Proctor said. “We shook the crap we had going on. We took some time to rest. If we go into this game with our heads on straight, we’re a tough team to beat.”
Cardinals struggle mentally at Onaway
Since upsetting rival Gaylord St. Mary last week, the Johannesburg-Lewiston baseball team has lost six of its last nine games, including losing 4-3 and 9-1 on Monday at Onaway.
"We're struggling right now," coach Cody Proctor said. "We've just lost a lot of focus. I guess it's my fault because I don't know how to get it back right now."
J-L (14-10, 9-5 SVC) got an incredible pitching performance from starter Tanner Shimel in the opener. The senior struck out 10, walked none and gave up one earned run, despite the Cardinals handing Onaway a 4-0 advantage by the second inning.
Shimel was 2-for-4 batting, while Tyler Madej had J-L's only other hit.
In Game 2, Madej and Austin Carroll were each 2-for-3 batting, and Sheldon Huff and Preston Marlatt combined to strike out four batters and give up seven earned runs.
Proctor said some players were making oddball errors, like not running to first base on a dropped third strike or not following running instructions on the bases.
"What you saw last Monday (against the Snowbirds) is not what's been on the field since then," Proctor said. "We're just not playing well right now. We're going to take the day off of practice to get away from baseball for a day.
"We're too good to be doing what we're doing right now.
Newell, Shimel pitch Cardinals past Hillman in likely district final preview
Friday night might have been a Division 4 district championship preview for the Johannesburg-Lewiston baseball team.
The Cardinals (14-6) swept visiting Hillman 9-1 and 9-2, but they elected to not throw No. 2 pitcher Sheldon Huff because the sophomore will likely see the Tigers in the playoffs in a few weeks.
"I threw Lucas Newell because if we see Hillman in the districts, it'll be Sheldon that sees them," coach Cody Proctor said. "So I didn't throw Sheldon, but I did throw (No. 1 pitcher) Tanner Shimel instead. Tanner will go on Tuesday (during the pre-district game) and the first game on Saturday (for the district semifinal). We wouldn't see Hillman until the championship if we make it. So we didn't pitch Sheldon just to not show him to them."
Newell did his job, stepping up in place of Huff. He pitched all six innings in Game 1, striking out three, walking three, allowing two hits and giving up no earned runs.
What's more, he grounded out in the first inning but gave Shimel enough time to plate the winning run.
A seven-run third inning put the game away for the Cardinals, who saw Austin Carroll bat 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs, Shimel drive in two runs and Huff record a triple.
"Defense and pitching were key," Proctor said. "We pitched great."
Shimel got the win in the nightcap, throwing 73 pitches in six innings to stay two throws shy of the pitching limit. He gave up six hits, two earned runs and one walk but struck out four.
"He was coming out at 75 pitches no matter what," Proctor said. "He just did his job tonight."
Huff led offensively with a double and one RBI, while the Cardinals scored six runs in the fifth to break open a 3-0 lead.
Cardinals suffer letdown, split with Bulldogs in SVC doubleheader
The Johannesburg-Lewiston baseball team proved it can hang with tough teams.
In fact, it did that Monday at Gaylord St. Mary, as it split with the No. 9 Snowbirds, who have been to three-straight Division 4 quarterfinal games.
But the Cardinals might have left all the juice they needed to knock off St. Mary in Gaylord, as they lacked intensity during a Ski Valley series Thursday against Inland Lakes.
They muscled their way to an 11-10 win in Game 1, but they dropped the nightcap 10-8 after squandering a late lead. One factor was they played without their top pitchers, Tanner Shimel and Sheldon Huff, who were burned by the pitching count Monday.
"I don't know if we let up after a big game or what?" coach Cody Proctor said. "We need to understand the importance of every game, and that's what we're trying to teach them. I wish I had more to say. We didn't have the intensity (we had against St. Mary) late in the second game."
Game 1 saw Tommy Runyan (3-for-4 batting) single home Sheldon Huff to kick off a three-run fifth inning that clinched the win. Austin Carroll made it home on an error during Runyan's at-bat, while Trent Waltiere scored the winning run on a passed ball shortly afterward.
Huff and Tyler Madej drove in two runs apiece, while Runyan and Lucas Newell combined to strike out four batters on the mound.
The Cardinals (12-6, 8-3 SVC) led 8-6 entering the final inning of the nightcap, but Inland Lakes plated four runs to pull off the comeback.
Shimel and Runyan each drove in two runs, and Madej and Preston Marlatt together fanned six batters while pitching.
"We didn't play well defensively in both games," Proctor said. "We hit the ball well, but we just didn't get it done tonight as we should have. It's tough to lose another league game, but that's what happened. We just have to get back after it."
Cardinals beat No. 9 Snowbirds for first time in 5 seasons
GAYLORD – The Johannesburg-Lewiston baseball team had this doubleheader circled on the calendar.
For the second outing in a row, Tanner Shimel nearly tossed a no-hitter, only this time it was during a 1-0 win over rival Gaylord St. Mary on Monday at William Mackowiak Sports Complex.
It was the Cardinals’ first win over the Snowbirds in five seasons and only St. Mary’s second Ski Valley loss during that time-frame.
“The kids were excited,” J-L coach Cody Proctor said. “They just played baseball and did what I know they’re capable of doing. We saw a good pitcher (in St. Mary starter Drew Koenig). But we played great defense, and that’s what I talked about us doing all year long.”
“We made all the plays. We made every play that we could make, and we had no errors.”
Dan Runyan (2-for-2 batting) drove in the winning run in the second, which brought home Preston Marlatt.
Shimel struck out six and walked four for the Cardinals, who are 11-5 overall. He gave up just one hit.
“He’s been lights out,” Proctor said. “He’s finally settled into where I expect him to be as an ace this year. If he continues to pitch like this, he’s absolutely tough to hit. Those (St. Mary’s) coaches gave him all the credit in the world. He is a tough kid to play against.”
So was Shimel bummed that for the second game in a row he’s had a no-hitter broken up?
“Tanner is a bigger picture guy,” Proctor said. “As much as he wants a no-hitter, he’ll take that win all day. He’s had two opportunities for a no-hitter, but he just wants the win.”
“The kids are playing pretty good baseball right now, and we’re ready to make a run no matter what we have to do.”
Drew Koenig struck out five and walked three for St. Mary, while Andrew Zielinski had the Snowbirds’ lone hit.
“Tanner Shimel pitched a phenomenal game,” St. Mary coach Matt Nowicki said. “He had some great defense behind him, and I can’t say enough about how well they played. Drew pitched well, too, and they had only three hits against him, but it was just a really well-played game.”
“You don’t see too many Division 4 games that are 1-0. They (J-L) did what they needed to do to win, for sure, and I can’t take anything away from them. We just didn’t take advantage of the opportunities we had.”
Nowicki, who has built a powerhouse at St. Mary, praised the team Proctor has assembled this spring.
“They’ve got a good, young squad, and they’re out to prove something,” Nowicki said. “I don’t blame them a bit (for circling this game on their calendar). Obviously, we have a target on our back, and it has been a couple of years since they’ve beaten us. They were hungry. And that’s what I told my coaching staff after the game – those boys were hungry.”
The Snowbirds (11-4) drove in four runs in the fifth to secure an 8-3 victory in the nightcap. Koenig and Alex Pudvan each had RBIs, while Joseph Moeggenberg picked up the win on the mound, striking out four and walking four in four innings.
Sheldon Huff struck out five and walked four in 4 1/3 innings for J-L, which got RBIs from Lucas Newell and Tyler Madej. Tommy Runyan was 2-for-3 batting.
Nowicki said the Snowbirds weren’t too bummed about dropping an SVC game. Even with the loss, they still sit atop the conference and are likely to repeat as the league champions, barring another unfortunate loss late in the season.
“We know we’re going to get everybody’s best, and we have to rise to the occasion,” Nowicki said. “There’s no other way to look at it. We’ve got to make sure we hit the baseball and play good defensively.”
“Everything we want to accomplish is still in front of us. We’ve got to play solid baseball and keep moving forward.”
Shimel tosses no-hitter as Cardinals roll Mancelona twice
Tanner Shimel knew what happened the second Johannesburg-Lewiston baseball coach Cody Proctor trotted onto the field.
Shimel entered the final inning Friday at Mancelona three pitches away from reaching the pitching limit. Facing a 0-2 count, he threw a ball on his third pitch, halting his no-hitter just one batter away from a complete game.
Nevertheless, the senior finished with 12 strikeouts, one walk, no hits and 75 pitches in the 9-0 win over the Ironmen.
Proctor could have left Shimel in the game but it would've burned him for Monday's match-up against rival St. Mary.
"When I called time, he slapped his glove when I came to get him," Proctor said. "He's the bigger guy, and he knows it's more important for him to pitch Monday than to have a no-hitter all to his own."
Shimel struck out the first six batters of the match-up.
"This is the second game in a row he's really settled in," Proctor said. "When he's dialed in, he works quick hits his spots and mixes up his pitches well. He was that way tonight, and he that way last Monday, too.
"He's not overpowering, but he has decent velocity and hits his spot, and that's all we need out of him to win."
J-L's defense played just as well as Shimel pitched.
"It's really good to see Tanner pitching well," Proctor continued. "He struggled a bit to start the year, and he's starting to find himself again, and it's making us a better baseball team. When somebody put it in play, we made the plays behind him. We're playing really good defense and finally coming around after a slow start to the spring."
Tommy Runyan led with three RBIs, and J-L (10-4, 7-1 SVC) scored three runs in the first to put the game out of reach for any kind of Mancelona comeback.
Sheldon Huff and Runyan combined to strike out 10 in the nightcap, which saw J-L pick up an 11-1 win.
Kevin Gehringer and Tyler Madej each collected two hits, while Gehringer and Shimel drove in two runs apiece. Gehringer also scored three runs.
Two more pitching gems from Tanner Shimel and Sheldon Huff ensured the Johannesburg-Lewiston baseball team 5-0 and 11-0 wins over host Central Lake in Ski Valley play Monday.
Shimel tossed a two-hitter, fanning 10 batters and walking two as the Cardinals’ offense collected 11 hits to ensure the Game 1 win.
Preston Marlatt was 3-for-3 with an RBI, while Huff was 2-for-3 with one RBI.
“Tanner was dialed in,” coach Cody Proctor said. “When Tanner is working quick, that’s when he’s the best. He was working quick. Kids were stepping in the box, and he was just going. He was focused and settled in, and that’s how he was going today.
“We played pretty good ball with no errors. So when we play good defense, we’re tough to beat.”
In the nightcap, Huff also tossed a two-hitter, striking out nine and walking just one.
Offensively, Huff drove in three runs, while Madej was 3-for-2 with two RBIs. Tommy Runyan and Marlatt added two hits apiece.
“In the last three games, Sheldon has been dealing,” Proctor said. “He’s given up just four hits in three games and he’s had 25 strikeouts.”
“I think we’re starting to play our kind of baseball now. No errors and we’re playing smart, good defense. Things are starting to flow now.”
J-L is 8-4 overall and 5-1 in the conference.
Cardinals split with Pellston, East Jordan in back-to-back nights
A pair of doubleheaders, a pair of splits for the Johannesburg-Lewiston baseball team.
On Thursday, Pellston took the opener 9-5, but the Cardinals (4-4, 1-1 SVC) won Game 2 6-0 to begin Ski Valley play.
In the loss, Tanner Shimel struck out eight but gave up nine hits, five earned runs and two walks in 5 1/3 innings, as the Hornets used a five-run fourth to snap a 2-2 tie and clinch the win.
Austin Carroll and Lucas Newell each finished with two hits and two RBIs, and Huff recorded a double.
"We did not play good in that first game," coach Cody Proctor said. "We just were not into it. It was the same problem we had last night with East Jordan. We just weren't into it during the first game.
"I don't have an answer for it. I know we haven't been on the field much, but we still need to play better. Hopefully, with us now getting enough baseball in, that'll help us get going and play better early on in games."
During the next game, Huff tossed a one-hitter, striking out six and walking only two in six innings.
Newell grounded to second base to bring home Carroll for the winning run in the third.
Preston Marlatt was 3-for-3 batting with two RBIs, Kevin Gehringer had a double and drove in two runs and Dan Runyan tripled.
"Sheldon was lights out tonight," Proctor said.
One night earlier, East Jordan beat J-L 7-6 in the opener after knotting the score in the fourth and then plating the winning run one inning later.
The Cardinals scored three runs in both the first and third innings, led by Carroll and Tyler Madej collecting two RBIs apiece and Shimel doubling.
Matt Ross, Madej, Shimel and Newell combined to strike out 10 in the non-conference match-up.
J-L bounced back with a 12-1 win in the nightcap, scoring four runs in the first and another seven in the third to secure the victory.
Runyan (2-for-2, 4 RBIs) opened the game by doubling to right field to bring home Madej, Carroll and Marlatt to give his team a 4-0 lead.
Also helping was Madej with two hits and two RBIs and Marlatt with a double.
Marlatt, Tommy Runyan, Huff and Myers struck out eight as a staff.
Cardinals fumble 3-run lead, fall short of sweeping Manton
The Johannesburg-Lewiston baseball team blew a 4-1 lead, otherwise, it would have swept Manton in non-conference play Tuesday.
Instead, the host Rangers stormed back in Game 2 and edged the Cardinals (2-2) 6-5 after scoring five runs in the final three innings.
Austin Carroll (2-for-2, three RBIs) singled home Sheldon Huff to give J-L a three-run lead in the third.
On the mound, Huff, who struck out three, struggled late in the game, even loading the bases.
"It sucks because he was throwing so well and started to struggle," coach Cody Proctor said. "But it's not his fault. We just lost focus and had some mental mistakes in the batters box. That kind of cost us the game because we quit scoring runs.
"We just had a couple of mental errors in the batters box we shouldn't have had."
In the opener, Tanner Shimel threw just 49 pitches in five innings, striking out two, to ensure the Cardinals a 6-2 win.
"Manton was just really aggressive at the play, and they made him work," Proctor said. "Even if (the count was) 0-0, they were still swinging at everything. The put the ball in play really well, but our guys were there to make the plays."
In the third, Tommy Runyan singled to third to score Shimel for the winning run.
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times
JOHANNESBURG — With coach Cody Proctor in his third season, the goal is now quite clear for the Johannesburg-Lewiston baseball team.
“There is no reason why we can’t compete for a league title,” he said. “Obviously, there’s one team that has been at the top of our league the last couple years. So that’s who we need to beat, to knock them off the top.
“No doubt, we’re capable of winning the league this year.”
That team atop the Ski Valley has been rival St. Mary, which entered the season ranked No. 1 in Division 4. The Snowbirds have gone to three-straight state final fours.
“It’s not going to be easy because, in baseball, we can’t be just a one-sided team,” Proctor continued. “Our pitching needs to be good, our defense needs to be good and we need to score runs. We need as few errors as possible.
“In order to be good enough to win the league, you have to be solid in all parts of the game.”
The Cardinals are also eying a district title, one Proctor thinks is achievable with the draw they have. They’re in a district with Atlanta, Hillman, Posen and Rogers City.
“But our first goal, obviously, is to win the league and then focus on the district,” the third-year coach said. “I think we have the team to do that. We’ve just got to put it all together.”
Expected to lead the Cardinals to those titles is senior Tanner Shimel, who was J-L’s lone Herald Times All-Area first team player a year ago. He was also All-SVC first team, all-district and voted his team’s MVP. He helped with 27 runs scored and a .348 batting average while striking out 60 on the mound.
Shimel will be the team’s ace this spring. He struck out 10 in his debut last weekend, so he’s well on his way to being a top player in Otsego County again.
While the Cardinals graduated Jett Ewing, it does return a host of All-Area honorable mentions in Matt Ross, Tommy Runyan, Dan Runyan and Sheldon Huff.
Proctor expects the pitching rotation to include Shimel, Huff, Lucas Newell, Tommy Runyan, Mason Myers, Ross and Preston Marlatt.
The infielders include Dan Runyan at catcher, Tommy Runyan at first base, Tyler Madej at second, Shimel and Newell at shortstop and Huff at third.
The starting outfielders are Austin Carroll in left, Marlatt in center and Kevin Gehringer in right. Ross, Trent Waltiere, Allen Morgan and Christian Pryor will also rotate in.
ELSIE – Tyler Madej drew a walk to push in the winning run, as the Johannesburg-Lewiston baseball team topped Eben Junction Superior Central 11-1 in a neutral-site game Saturday at Ovid-Elsie.
Lucas Newell doubled to bring home Preston Marlatt and Dan Runyan to cap off a six-run fifth inning that brought on the mercy rule.
Newell was 2-of-3 batting with two doubles, while Austin Carroll also drove in a pair of runs. Superior Central walked seven J-L batters.
Pitcher Sheldon Huff struck out three and walked three.
"Sheldon pitched very well today, and our defense helped him," coach Cody Proctor said. "We turned two double plays in that game."
The Cardinals (1-1) dropped the nightcap 3-0 to the host Marauders, despite Tanner Shimel pitching lights out. The senior threw 10 strikeouts, walked two and gave up only one earned run in four innings. Tommy Runyan and Lucas Newell closed the game.
J-L, which visits Whittemore-Prescott for a doubleheader Thursday, April 11, mustered just two hits all game, both from Madej.
"Offensively, we struggled all game," Proctor said. "We struck out nine times. What was really tough was Ovid-Elsie using a new pitcher every single inning. It was really hard to get into any kind of a rhythm with lefties, righties, new pitchers and different speeds.
"We just couldn't string anything together. We had the bases loaded with one out. We had our opportunities and just couldn't capitalize."
JUNIOR VARSITY BASEBALL SCHEDULE
4/24 at Inland Lakes 4:00