ST. JOHNS — Kail Stratton and Ethan Hollister combined for a three-hitter and Corunna broke a 1-1 tie with an unearned run in the sixth inning to defeat Owosso 2-1 in Tuesday’s Division 2 pre-district game.
There were only five combined hits in the game, as Owosso starter Luke Wheeler pitched a two-hitter through six innings. Corunna (12-22) moved on to Saturday’s 10 a.m. district semifinal against Alma at St. Johns.
“Everytime we play Owosso — whether it’s postseason or regular season — they are going to play us tough and it’s going to be a battle and it’s going to be a good high school baseball game,” Corunna coach Chuck Osika said. “We knew we were getting Wheeler and you’ve just got to battle at that point.”
The Trojans (4-22-1) outhit Corunna but committed two errors while the Cavaliers played error-free defense.
“I’ll give both teams a lot of credit,” Owosso coach Kevin Moore said. “Coming into the game, both teams were very well prepared. All three pitchers pitched very well. They threw strikes and kept all the hitters off balance.”
Stratton worked the first five innings and allowed one run on three hits with two strikeouts and two walks. With the game tied at 1 in the top of the sixth, Hollister took over and struck out the side.
The Cavaliers pushed across the deciding run in the bottom half without the benefit of a hit. Blake Galesk walked on four pitches and pinch runner Cole Mieske stole second base. After Wheeler struck out Hollister, Stratton hit a ground ball to second base that scooted through the infield to score Mieske.
“I knew I had to put something in play and get him around,” Stratton said. “He threw me an outside pitch and I just took it over there.”
Hollister retired Owosso in order in the top of the seventh and Corunna was able to celebrate moving on to the district semifinals. Hollister did not allow a hit or a run in his two-inning stint that included four strikeouts and no walks.
“All of my pitches were working well today,” Hollister said. “I was lucky enough to get two strikes early in the count so I had a lot more options with my pitches.”
Hollister said he was confident that his teammates would come through with a run to win the game.
“I’m always confident in my team,” Hollister said. “We just had a very fundamental game today. And I knew we could get it done.”
Corunna scored in the first inning when Peyton Norton walked, then stole second and third base and scored on Galesk’s ground ball to second base.
The Cavaliers’ lone hits came on Caleb Stahr’s bunt single to start the bottom of the second inning and Hollister’s single in the fourth. Stratton said Corunna’s error-free defense was a big part of the win.
“We had some real solid defense and everybody was making good plays and they weren’t really getting it out of the infield,” Stratton said.
The Trojans tied the game at 1 in the third inning. Brett Hudecek walked and Jordan Cochrane laid down a sacrifice bunt to put the a runner in scoring position. Wheeler then singled home the tying run.
Owosso’s only other hits came from Wyatt Leland — who clubbed a two-out single in the second — and Braden Triggs. Triggs’ single in the fourth inning put runners at first and second with one out, but Corunna turned a double play on a grounder to shortstop.
Wheeler said he felt strong on the mound and added it was a game which either team could have won had one or two plays changed.
“I felt ready to go today and they weren’t catching up to my pitches,” said Wheeler, who struck out five and walked three. “We played pretty well today.”
Moore said Wheeler did his job.
“Luke battled all the way and that’s what we expected of him,” Moore said. “He did a nice job and unfortunately we couldn’t get another out in (the sixth).”
Division 2 Pre-District at St. Johns
CORUNNA 2, OWOSSO 1
Owosso 001 000 0 — 1 3 2
Corunna 100 004 x — 2 2 0
WP: Ethan Hollister, Corunna, relief (2 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 4 K, 0 BB)
LP: Luke Wheeler, Owosso (6 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 5 K, 3 BB).
Hits: Owosso — Wheeler 1-3, RBI; Braden Triggs 1-3; Wyatt Leland 1-3. Corunna — Ethan Hollister 1-3, 2B; Caleb Stahr 1-3.
Records Corunna 12-22, Owosso 4-22-1.