Grand Blanc — The Fenton varsity baseball team’s senior class enjoyed its share of success with the program.
Two years ago the squad won the program’s first-ever Division 1 regional championship.
This season, the squad had to weave through the adversity of COVID-19 and figure a way around that adversity. It worked pretty well with the Tigers finishing the season with a 24-10-1 overall record.
But what the team hoped for was a long tourney run once again this season, and that tourney run finished a little shorter than hoped when the Tigers lost to Grand Blanc 5-2 in the district title game at the Grand Blanc District on Saturday.
At the end of the game, the seniors — Jake Durant, Brendan Alvord, Gannon Welch, Logan Angel and Eddie Briand — had to reflect on their careers after the contest.
“It’s been everything,” Angel said. “It’s not about my career. It’s about the team, the team, the team. That’s my hardest good bye, not seeing the guys every day.
“It all comes back to the team. Every bench guy to every starter, everyone contributed in their own way.”
“This group has changed what we’ve done and who we are, and you can’t say enough about what they’ve meant to us as coaches and the school,” Fenton varsity baseball coach Shawn Lawrence said. “They take care of business on the baseball side, the personal side and the school side. They’ve been very significant for us with what they’ve done. So there are no words you can put into what they’ve meant to us.”
The Tigers opened the day with a 7-3 semifinal victory against Swartz Creek, earning them their spot in the championship contest. However, the game didn’t start out the way the Tigers had hoped. Grand Blanc started with a walk and a hit batter, and scored the first run of the game on a sacrifice fly. The Tigers trailed 1-0. That deficit grew to 4-0 after Grand Blanc’s three-run third. In that inning, two errors helped spark the threat. An RBI-single plated one of the runs and a RBI-ground out that included another error helped plate the final two runs.
The Tigers were in a comeback mode from that point, and baserunners never came easy. Grand Blanc eventually added another run in the top of the seventh, scoring on consecutive walks and a sacrifice fly. The Tigers trailed 5-0.
But looking doomed to their fate, the Tigers sparked a pretty impressive comeback in the bottom of the seventh. Brendan Alvord, Connor Luck and Eddie Briand hit consecutive singles, loading the bases with no out. Kyle Crow followed with an RBI-single, cutting Grand Blanc’s lead to 5-1 and placing the game-tying run at the plate with no out. A pop out became the first out but then Jake Durant walked, scoring a second Fenton run and placing the game-tying run at first. However, that’s as close as the Tigers would get.
“That shows you the grit of this team,” Lawrence said. “They showed it at the end. They didn’t give up and still had a chance to do something. One swing of the bat could’ve changed the game.”
Alvord tossed the first six innings and took the loss. He pitched better than what the four runs may suggest. Only one was earned and he only allowed two hits and four walks. He struck out seven. Briand pitched the seventh and allowed an unearned run.
In the semifinal, The Tigers scored two runs in the top of the second and third innings and added three more in the fifth to earn the 7-3 win against the Dragons. In the two-run second, Crow hit an RBI-triple and Angel had an RBI-single. In the two-run second, Alvord hit an RBI-double and Briand hit an RBI-ground out. In the three-run fifth, Luck and Angel had RBI-doubles. Another run scored when Luck stole home.
On the mound, Kyle Crow earned the win with six innings of two-hit, two-walk ball. He struck out five. Briand pitched the seventh and struck out two.