BURTON — It’s on to Saturday’s Super Regional for New Lothrop.
The Hornets (29-9-1), aided by a seven-run third, needed just five innings to blank Burton Bentley 10-0 Thursday in a Division 3 regional semifinal. Right-handers Cam Orr and Kollin Lienau combined to pitch a two-hitter with seven strikeouts and two walks.
The No. 10-ranked Hornets will take on unranked Saginaw Valley Lutheran (21-15) Saturday in a 12:30 p.m. regional title game at Brown City. Valley Lutheran — which defeated Vassar 9-6 Wednesday in its regional semifinal — beat New Lothrop 3-1 May 18.
“That was the gameplan, just be efficient, get in and get out,” New Lothrop coach Ben Almasy said. “No stressful innings for the pitchers. We don’t want to run up any scores, do anything like that, because we respect Bentley and they used to be in our league. I thought we did everything we were supposed to do. We didn’t make any errors. It was like we wanted a good workout and to leave on a positive note and get ready because tomorrow is going to be a busy (practice) day going over Valley Lutheran’s stuff.”
Orr worked the first 2 2/3 innings against Bentley, giving up two hits with four strikeouts and one walk. Lienau did not allow a hit over his 2 1/3-innings relief stint. He struck out three and walked one.
Freshman Brady Birchmeier — now batting a team-best .486 — headed up New Lothrop’s 10-hit attack, going 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs. Orr batted 2-for-3 with an RBI and Nathaniel Lane and Colby Hemgesberg each went 1-for-3 with two RBIs.
The other regional final Saturday at Brown City is set for 10 a.m. and pits No. 4-ranked Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett against 2018 Division 3 runner up Madison Heights Bishop Foley. The 2 p.m. super regional pits the two regional champions against each other — it is the de facto replacement for the state quarterfinals.
Almasy said New Lothrop has a lot of scouting information on Valley Lutheran and he said he holds the Chargers’ coach, Kurt Hofmeister, in the highest of esteem.
“Their coach does a nice job and he’s senior-laden,” Almasy said. “We’re going to play a team that is much older than us. They do a lot of different things to put a lot of pressure on opponents.”
Almasy said the 3-1 loss to Valley Lutheran in May was anybody’s game.
“We left the bases loaded a couple of times,” Almasy said. “It could have went either way. So we look forward at getting another shot at them. I think it’s going to be similar kind of game. This late in the year, there will probably be some more runs.
“I think it will be down to the wire just like the Durand game (7-6 in the districts). Their lefty (Mason Gengler) threw and he had to throw (aganst Vassar), but they took him out, too. I don’t know who we’re going to throw — and that’s the truth. I’m confident with whoever we run out there, but I know we’ll see their lefty.”
Thursday’s game against Bentley was originally slated for Wednesday but postponed a day due to flooding. It still turned out to be all New Lothrop on a field that still had some wet spots on it.
New Lothrop scored two runs in the first before Bentley recorded an out. Lienau, batting leadoff, singled and Matt Kieffer was safe on an errant throw from third on a grounder. Birchmeier made it 1-0 with a sharp single to left field. Orr also singled and Nathaniel Lane walked, forcing in the second run.
The Hornets went down 1-2-3 in the second inning against Bentley left-hander Collin Neal, but erupted for a big third inning.
Birchmeier singled to start the frame, Orr walked and Lane leveled a run-scoring single. Julius Garza drove in a run on a fielder’s choice and Gavin Drager was safe on another fielder’s choice.
Junior Colby Hemgesberg broke the game open with a two-run double that gave New Lothrop a 6-0 lead.
“I was kind of thinking, I need to get these two runs in,” Hemgesberg said. “Help the team out. And I just came up big with that hit.”
New Lothrop ran the lead to 10-0 in the fifth when Kieffer was hit by a pitch and Birchmeier promptly drove him in with a double to left centerfield.
Orr (8-0) and Lienau (3-0) did the rest.
“I just wanted to go out there, throw strikes and win the game,” Orr said. “Saturday’s game (against. Valley Lutheran) is a key game because when you get there, I mean, you could be the worst team in the state or the best team in the state. A team like Caro a few years back was 8-20 or something like that. They ended up being in the Final Four.”
Lienau said he wanted to end the game as quickly as possible.
“I just tried to get quick outs and the big thing was just to throw strikes and make sure my command was good,” Lienau said. “Cam did a great job today. He’s been big for us.”
Lienau, a senior captain said the Hornets are peaking at the right time. The team has battled through its share of adversity — Lienau himself suffered a left hand injury April 25 against Bishop Foley when he was hit by a pitch.
It was re-aggravated a few weeks later, leaving him unable to grip a bat. But he fought through it, still fielding at shortstop. He was hitting more than .400 at the time of the injury and is now back to being able to hit.
“We still have got to go out there and make sure we do the little things,” he said. “That might cost us, it may not. No team is perfect, but that’s what we try to be. Valley Lutheran is a good team. They’ve got good pitching and field it well. We may not have had the bats going the day we lost to them, but that’s not the reason why we lost. If we put it in play and hit it hard it will be a good game.”
Division 3 Regional Semifinal
at Burton Bendle
NEW LOTHROP 10, BURTON BENTLEY 0, 5 innings
New Lothrop 207 01 — 10 10 0
Bentley 000 00 — 0 2 2
WP: Cam Orr, New Lothrop (2 2/3 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 4 K, 1 BB)
Relief: Kollin Lienau, New Lothrop (2 1/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 3 K, 1 BB)
LP: Collin Neal, Bentley (2 1/3 IP, 9 R, 7 H, 2 K, 2 BB)
Hits: New Lothrop — Brady Birchmeier 3-4 (2B, 2 RBI), Cam Orr 2-3 (RBI).
Records: New Lothrop 29-9-1; Bentley 18-13.