The Michigan High School Athletic Association baseball postseason tournament swings into high gear on Saturday.
The tournament actually started on Tuesday with pre-districts and continues tomorrow with the district semifinals and finals. The state semifinals and finals will take place June 12-14 at Michigan State University.
Unless your team/school wins a state championship, the season will end with a loss.
There will be favorites and underdogs. But it’s baseball, it’s the postseason, and anything can happen.
The Greenville Yellow Jackets will be one of the underdogs. Not because they are a bad team, but because they are facing one of the best teams in the state.
The Yellow Jackets won 15 games this year (their most since 2009), but has to face the Rockford Rams in the semifinals. The Rams, ranked No. 3 in Division 1, has 31 wins this season and is one of the favorites to win it all.
But like I said, it’s baseball, anything can happen.
For example, the Comstock Park Panthers were ranked No. 2 in Division 2 before falling on Tuesday in pre-districts to Cedar Springs 3-0.
The Panthers finished the year 20-10. With the win, Cedar Springs improved to 10-18.
On paper, Comstock Park should have won this game easily. Why didn’t they? Because Collin Hickok pitched a gem for the Red Hawks and shut down the Panthers ending their season.
Dominate pitching can shut down a team, any time, at any level.
The Yellow Jackets mercied the same Red Hawks team twice at home, but faced Hickok two days later and lost 4-3.
The Detroit Tigers were cruising with the best record in baseball behind the domination of its starting rotation. Since the rotation has struggled, the Tigers have won just three of their last 10.
Well the Yellow Jackets have their own dominating ace on the mound in Parker Syrjala.
Syrjala, a four-year varsity player, has been injured most of year and unable to pitch. He took the mound on Wednesday at Lakeview and showed no signs of rust allowing no hits in 4 2/3 innings.
As long as he is healthy, Syrjala will be on the mound against the Rams tomorrow. And that increases the Yellow Jackets chance of a semifinal upset.
“He is the best pitcher in our league,” Greenville coach Corey Kohler said. “I think that gives us a shot. I don’t care who we are playing with that kid on the mound I feel pretty good. On any given day anything can happen.”
The Yellow Jackets will need more than a good performance from Syrjala on the mound. They will, more than likely, be facing a dominating pitcher from Rockford and will need to score some runs. With 31 wins, I’m sure Rockford has a few dominating pitchers.
Belding, Central Montcalm, Lakeview and Vestaburg will also be looking for some postseason magic on Saturday.
Come ready to play and anything is possible. That’s why baseball is such a great game.