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Country Day eliminated by Lutheran North in baseball regionals WITH PHOTO GALLERY

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MARYSVILLE >> Lutheran North had been waiting for this moment for more than a year.

After dropping the district championship game to Detroit Country Day a year ago, the Mustangs were chomping at the bit to get another crack at the Yellowjackets.

Lutheran North made the most of it.

On the strength of three home runs and six extra base hits, the Mustangs routed the No. 2-ranked Yellowjackets 19-5 in five innings to claim a Division 2 regional championship and advance to Tuesday’s state quarterfinals.

“They were ready,” Lutheran North coach Steve Herbst said. “We know they’ve got some great athletes over there (at Country Day).

“We played them good in the district championship; these guys have been getting prepped for this thing all week, all season long…they put it all together today.”

Noah Fiehn finished 3-for-5, including a pair of doubles, with five RBI and three runs scored to lead the Lutheran North attack.

Ben Borders helped pace the Mustang offense, driving in five runs and scoring two more. Borders’ big blow came via a one-out grand slam in the bottom of the second to give Lutheran North some breathing room with an 8-2 lead.

Nick Lesch was 4-for-5, including a two-run home run in the bottom of the second that, at the time, broke a 2-2 tie. Ryan Kavulick had a three-run shot to centerfield in the bottom of the fourth — part of a 10-run Mustang inning.

Kevin Kapanowski got in on the act, going 2-for-4 with a RBI and scored; as a team Lutheran North scratched out 14 hits against Yellowjacket pitching.

“We squared the ball squared up today great,” Herbst said. “We hit the ball better than even we anticipated.

“These last few weeks, it’s absolutely been contagious…it builds confidence pretty quick.”

Christian Burkheiser picked up the victory for the Mustangs (24-10-1), allowing five runs – three earned – on four hits over 3 1/3 innings. He struck out two and walked four before turning it over to Fiehn in relief.

Fiehn allowed one hit over the final 1 2/3 innings.

Anthony Toma suffered the loss for Country Day, allowing five earned runs on four hits over 1 1/3 innings. He walked one and struck out two before handing it off to the bullpen.

“I’ve never seen a performance like that,” Country Day’s third-year coach Steve Lepkowski said. “I think, sometime things weren’t going our way, but man did they swing the bat and execute.

“There’s nothing that you can do when that happens.”

After Country Day opened the game with two runs in the top of the first, Lutheran North answered with two of its own in the bottom half. Lesch’s two run shot and Borders’ grand slam helped ignite the Mustangs for six runs in the second and took an 8-2 lead into the third.

Down 9-2 in the top of the fourth, Country Day senior Steve Mann connected for a three-run moonshot to cut the Mustang lead to 9-5.

That would be as close as the Yellowjackets would get, thanks to the 10-run response in the next half-inning.

Mann finished 2 for 2 with three RBIs and a run scored in the final game of his high school career. He was the lone Country Day player to record a two-hit game.

Country Day advanced to the regional final with a 4-0 win over Algonac in one semifinal; Lutheran North appeared in the final thanks to a 14-2 win over Yale.

“We had a heck of a year,” Lepkowski said. “The one thing about us is, we’re actually awfully young. Losing Steve Mann and Nick Neibauer, those kids have given so much to the program… the hardest thing is seeing them go.”

Lutheran North will take on Divine Child in a quarterfinal on Tuesday at 4 p.m. at Novi High School.

Last Updated: 6/10/2017 8:37:59 PM EST


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