Bobcats face Onsted in D3 Regional Semifinal

By DOUG DONNELLY

Onsted’s baseball team is known for its dynamic pitching staff. 

The trio of Logan Hunt, Broc Shoemaker and Lincoln Lipinski have had a tremendous season, leading the Wildcats to league and district championships and the school record for wins in a season. But, Onsted head coach Matthew Randall says, some credit goes to the two underclassmen catchers – freshman Luke Manders and sophomore Alex Schmidt. 

“They’ve handled our catching duties all year,” Randall said. “One will play in the first game and the other in the second. They’ve done a great job handling our staff. They form a great battery with our senior pitchers.” 

Randall isn’t saying which catcher will get the start in Wednesday’s Division 3 regional semifinal but whoever gets the nod could face a stiff test by Whiteford’s speed. The Bobcats (25-6) come into the game with 115 stolen bases on the season. Whiteford has six players with at least 10 steals on the season.

The Bobcats run at every opportunity. Randall seems unfazed. 

“I’m not worried about that at all,” he said. “We do a really good job of handling baserunners. Their speed doesn’t concern me.” 

Whiteford snuck into the final poll of the season, coming in at No. 20. It was the first time the Bobcats were ranked all season despite winning 26 games and breezing through the Tri-County Conference.  

The Bobcats are led by senior Cole Giesige, who has been All-State in football and baseball and was named the Class C Multi-State Athlete of the Year by the Michigan High School Coaches Association. He leads Whiteford with a .423 batting average and is 9-2 with 90 strikeouts on the mound. He’s headed to Albion College next year.  

He’s one of two lefthanders the Bobcats could throw at Onsted. The other is Cole Crouch, who is 9-0. Righthander Levi Hillard was all-state last season. 

“They have good hitting team and good team speed,” Randall said. “That’s about all I know about them.” 

Leadoff batter Shea Ruddy leads the team with 27 steals. Logan Tammerine has had a hot bat all season and freshman Nate Stevens has come on strong, both on the hill and at the plate.

“We are playing well,” Whiteford coach Terry Pant said. “Our pitching has been solid. They throw strikes. I don’t know who we are going with yet, but I’m confident in whoever I throw out there. I don’t have a real No. 1. I have a 1a, 1b, 1c.”

Randall had similar thoughts about his rotation.

Shoemaker (8-2), Hunt (2-0 with three saves) and Lipinski (10-1) are Onsted’s top three pitchers, but Randall isn’t sure who he will go with at 3 p.m. Wednesday. In fact, it might not be any of those three – or it could be all of those three. 

“We’re set up really well for this,” Randall said of the regional format. “Anybody we put on the mound we feel we can win. None of them have a weakness.” 

Shoemaker is batting a team-high .437 while Lipinski has 34 RBIs and 30 stolen bases.

The Onsted-Whiteford winner faces the Buchanan/Climax-Scotts winner at Adrian College on Saturday for the regional championship.  

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