Hall’s grand slam galvanizes 11-run win for Chippewa Valley over Utica – Macomb Daily

Chippewa Valley’s Alex Hall celebrates while rounding the bases after hitting a grand slam against Utica. (BRADY McATAMNEY — MediaNews Group)

Chippewa Valley right fielder Alex Hall stepped up to the plate with a two-run lead and the bases loaded in the bottom of the first inning against Utica on Wednesday.

He didn’t wait, taking a first-pitch fastball and depositing it over the fence in left center field, putting the Big Reds up 6-0 and propelling them to an 11-0 win in five innings over the Chieftains.

“It was kind of cool, because I played with him (pitcher Logan Simunic) in the summertime,” Hall said. “It felt good though. First pitch fastball, I took advantage of it.

“He’s (going to) hear about it in the summertime.”

Hall ripped an RBI double in third inning, too, as part of the Big Reds’ third-straight win, all of which have been by double digits (11-1 vs. Richmond, 12-2 vs. Utica). Evan DiBucci and Nate Hall also had two hits, but Evan Hall’s five RBIs were far and away a team-high.

Chippewa Valley pitcher Andrew Schuster throws against Utica. (BRADY McATAMNEY—MediaNews Group)

The group combined for 11 hits, drawing three walks and taking three HBPs – all of which were off the back of Ben Green.

“We put good at bats together,” said Chippewa Valley head coach Gregg Sadowski. “We took a couple of walks when we needed to take a couple of walks, and we got the hits when we needed to get them. Any game that we lost this year, we just didn’t get that hit. All season long we’ve had guys on base. Every once in a while, we just don’t get that hit. In this series so far, we’ve gotten that hit that we needed.”

And then there was the pitching performance. Senior Andrew Schuster, a left-hander committed to Grand Valley State to play for the Lakers’ football team, scattered one hit and one walk across five shutout innings with nine strikeouts.

“I tell him all the time, he’s a baseball player that plays football,” Sadowski said. “I tease him all the time. He’s a great pitcher. He’s a great competitor. “I think he’s going to do great things on the football field, just like he would on the baseball field too.”

The Big Reds improved to 9-4 in the Macomb Area Conference White division, sitting just one game behind Anchor Bay, who took two of three from the Big Reds in mid-April.

“I feel really good about us right now,” Sadowski said. “We’ve solidified some spots in the field, and we still have a couple of kids who are battling for spots, which is good. It’s healthy. It’s a healthy competition. I think it’s making us better.

“We have guys behind our dudes that are pushing them and forcing them to compete and play well, and that’s making us better as a team. Our leadership is great. We have a huge senior group – senior group is great. “I’m looking forward to the tournament.” Utica, on the other hand, has not been as fortunate.

We have a million guys on the bench that are hurt,” said Utica head coach Mark Moelig. “Sometimes we have more guys in street clothes than we do getting dressed. But the guys are handling it well, man.

“The disadvantage of having 12 is you got 12. And the advantage of having 12 is you have everyone making competitive league starts every week. The juniors are getting a lot of great experience. The seniors are doing a great job of getting us through that.”

The Chieftains had to tweak their rotation this week, putting Simunic in line to start Wednesday despite not being a usual league starter.

But Moelig praised the effort of the junior, who, despite not doing it through the third inning, competed and played sound baseball even though the results weren’t coming.

“He was always in the right spot when the ball was in play, he competed on every pitch,” Moelig said. “When things weren’t going well, he was very composed. Put some money in the bank with him today. Even though it was frustrating, (I’m) excited about the way he handled himself.”

Sophomore catcher Emilio Oddo is another player that Moelig has been impressed with. An early season shoulder injury to starting catcher Tim Geottes forced Oddo, who was primarily a first baseman who would handle some backup catcher duties, to start behind the dish regularly.

He stuffed multiple pitches in the dirt, hit a double and threw out a runner stealing on Wednesday.

“He’s been very coachable,” Moelig said. “He’s gotten better every game. He’s gone from a JV catcher playing varsity to a kid who’s learning on the job to now a legit, high-level varsity catcher. “He could not be happier for him.”

 
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