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Lutheran North's season ends against Divine Child PHOTO GALLERY

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Falcons defeat Mustangs, 6-2

NOVI >> Champagne is something you usually toast with, correct?

Following a Division 2 quarterfinal baseball game played Tuesday afternoon at Novi High School, it is Champagne who should be toasted.

Divine Child starting pitcher Dillon Champagne, a senor righthander, was masterful as he held Lutheran North to just four hits through five innings as the Falcons dispatched the Mustangs, 6-2. He struck out eight.

“That five-run lead was the biggest key. When do I know I am going to have a good outing? It all starts when I am warming up in the bullpen. That is when you know your pitches are going to work. If you’re in the bullpen and that slider isn’t working and other pitches are not working either, you know it is going to be a long game,” said Champagne, smiling.

He will be playing in the South Florida Collegiate League this summer. In the fall, he will be a student-athlete at Salem International University in Salem, West Virginia.

Divine Child scored five in the opening inning, and it was a cushion they never relinquished.

The Falcons move on to play Bay City John Glenn Thursday at 5 p.m. at Michigan State University’s McLane Stadium.

“It was huge to get those runs in the first inning,” said Divine Child coach Dan Deegan. “Our first three hitters are all seniors and they set the tone that inning. They were able to get on base, and let the meat of our order do their job and knock people in.

Among those getting big hits in the pivotal first inning were seniors Nick Gurney, Scott Combs and C.J. Breen.

“Our pitcher was outstanding," said Deegan. "He got ahead in our count. We had scouted Lutheran North and Country Day in the regional championship game, and that was one thing we noticed, that the Country Day pitchers kept falling behind. We kept preaching the need to stay ahead in the count against the Lutheran North hitters, and Dillon was able to do that.”

This is Deegan’s first year as head coach at Divine Child (23-19). He’s been with the program 15 years and during that time, the Falcons have won four state championships.

Divine Child competes in the rugged Catholic League Central Division which also boasts Brother Rice and De La Salle.

“This team is definitely battle-tested, being in the league that we are in. I mean, we finished fourth in the Central Division. Hanging in there is a tribute to our seniors. We are a resilient group,” continued Deegan.

Lutheran North also competes in the Catholic League. The Mustangs are in the AA Division and finished third behind Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard and Bishop Foley.

“Their pitcher did a great job on the mound making pitches when he needed to,” said Steve Herbst, the Lutheran North coach. “Our bats went kind of cold at the beginning of the game, but came around a little bit later.”

The Mustangs’ runs came in sixth and seventh innings.

Herbst toasted his eight seniors after the game.

“We wished them a fond farewell. They have led us from day one. That whole class is full of leaders. They had a great basketball season. They had great football and soccer seasons, too, and they certainly carried that into baseball as well.”

It was Lutheran North’s first regional championship in baseball.

“Again, I put that on the shoulders of these seniors. A program gets built slowly, by baby steps. Well, there was a much bigger step this year. You see how surprised everybody was that we are here in the quarterfinals. Personally, I am not surprised at all. We have great baseball players in our area, and great baseball players in our school every year,” continued Herbst. “I am hoping that making long runs in the state tournament becomes more of an expectation.”

As proud as the coach is of his seniors, he is also excited about the underclassmen on the team. His pitching staff was made up largely of juniors. Also, the junior varsity team has some outstanding talent.

Last Updated: 6/13/2017 9:31:10 PM EST