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Groves tops Brother Rice to win first district since 2005 WITH PHOTO GALLERY

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Baseball - 6/4/2016 3:30 p.m.

Birmingham Brother Rice 6
Birmingham Groves 8
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BIRMINGHAM – It had been more than 10 years since the Birmingham Groves baseball team could call itself district champions.

That all changed on Saturday in a big way when the Falcons topped Birmingham Brother Rice in the Division 1 district final at Birmingham Seaholm, 8-6.

“We have that grind-it-out mentality. We have had a lot of close wins this year and a lot of close games in general,” Groves coach Shawn Morrison said of his team, which won its first district since 2005. “In the end, we did what we needed to do to win. I am really proud of these guys.”

Groves (31-7) never trailed in the final, as they put up a pair of runs in the first inning on a RBI double from John Kowalchuk and a sacrifice fly from Mat Novick.

They would added another pair of runs in the second on a two-run single from Novick to make it 4-0 before Brother Rice started to respond.

The Warriors would score two runs in the third and the score would hold at 4-2 until the sixth, when the Falcons exploded for four runs. Groves found themselves facing a pair of left-handed starters on Saturday and they were well-prepared at the plate.

“We had heard that we could be facing lefties (Saturday), so we made sure to get a lot of reps in facing left-handed pitching. I think that set up our guys to be successful,” Morrison said.

Novick drove in another run in the sixth while Joe Roberts had a two-run single to make it 8-2.

The Warriors didn’t go quietly, as they put up four runs in the bottom of the sixth to make it 8-6. Jack Orlowski had a two-run single to cap the rally.

The momentum seemed to be with Brother Rice entering the seventh, but Morrison got his team to stay focused and record the final three outs with the tying run on first base.

“We just told the guys to focus on winning the seventh inning,” Morrison said. “Just focus on that next pitch and not think about the whole game. We felt like if we could focus in on the inning, we could maintain.”

Novick got the win on the mound while Chase Ford came in to record the final four outs and get the same.

Groves picked up a 2-0 win over Seaholm in their district final thanks to a complete-game two-hitter from Andrew Martin. He recorded two strikeouts over the seven innings.

“Andrew was dialed in on the mound for us and that was huge in the first game,” Morrison said.

Brother Rice reached the final after a 7-5 win over Bloomfield Hills in nine innings. The Warriors had a 4-0 lead disappear late in the contest, but managed to win in the ninth thanks to a pair of RBI singles from Tito Flores and Preston Pilat.

Groves now advances to the Division 1 regional at Bloomfield Hills next Saturday. Groves will face Rochester Adams in the semifinal at 12:30 p.m.

“It’s definitely a great feeling to win a district again, but we are definitely not done,” Morrison said. “It’s going to be a short celebration because we have a lot of work to do.”

Last Updated: 6/4/2016 7:30:17 PM EST


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