DURAND — New Lothrop needed to sweep Durand Wednesday to win the inagural Mid-Michigan Activities Conference championship outright.
Instead, the Hornets and Chesaning will have to share.
The Railroaders played spoiler in the final league doubleheader of the season, as Kyle Winslow’s three-run homer in the sixth inning of Game 1 keyed a 4-2 Durand victory. New Lothrop righted the ship with a vengeance, winning the nightcap 10-0 in five innings as Cam Orr held Durand to three hits.
New Lothrop and Chesaning both finished the MMAC campaign with 12-2 league records. Durand was 10-4 for third place.
Hornets coach Ben Almasy said sharing the championship with Chesaning was almost poetic justice.
“You know, the way it should have ended, probably, was all three of us sharing because all three of us have really good teams,” Almasy said. “But I’ll take a championship anytime.”
Game 1 was scoreless until the top of the fourth inning. Durand took a 1-0 lead when Max Ortmann singled, stole second base and scored on Winslow’s base hit.
That’s the way the score stayed until the top of the sixth. Dylan Freier doubled and Sayer Robinson drew a one-out walk. Winslow, the designated hitter, then powered his first-ever high school home run to left field. Winslow’s blast — clearing the left field fence by a few feet — staked Durand to a 4-0 lead and the Railroaders were able to hold off the Hornets in their final two at-bats.
Winslow finished 3-for-3 with four RBIs. He doubted his homer would clear the fence after making contact.
“Honestly, I thought it was a double,” Winslow said with a smile. “I hit it hard but I thought probably it was going to be a gap shot. I mean, at least we’re going to get a run in. Then all of a sudden I stopped running. I was like, ‘Oh my God.’”
Ortmann went the distance on the mound, allowing two runs on 10 hits. He threw 88 pitches and struck out two and walked two.
“I was trying my best to like make their batters produce ground balls to make my defense work,” Ortmann said. “It worked out today. I know I have one of the best defenses in the league behind me — if not the best. I enjoy playing with those guys.”
New Lothrop (24-8-1) scored single runs in the sixth and seventh innings, but had a runner thrown out at third to end the sixth inning.
“Kyle Winslow had a great day at the plate — especially in that first game,” Durand head coach Brandon Dickinson said. “But Max threw the ball well. It was kind of a tale of two games. Max came out and pounded the zone. We struggled in Game 2. But that happens.”
Nathaniel Lane drove in a run in the seventh and joined teammates Kollin Lienau and Cannon Cromwell with two hits. The Hornets outhit the Railroaders 10-7.
Jacob Graves took the loss for New Lothrop. Graves pitched 61/3 innings and gave up four runs on seven hits. He struck out eight and walked one.
New Lothrop turned its fortunes around in the five-inning nightcap, outhitting Durand 11-3. The Hornets scored one run in the first, two in the second, five in the third and two more in the fifth.
Orr kept Durand scoreless, needing only 62 pitches to get through five innings. He struck out three and walked two.
“(Durand) played really well in that first game,” Orr said. “It would be nice to be outright (champs) but it’s still a good feeling to be co-champions. Chesaning is a really good team, man. They really have stepped it up over the years and they have a lot of young talent.”
Orr said once the Hornets put the first game loss behind them, Game 2 went smoothly.
“I felt good out there and we got some early runs, which makes it a lot easier,” Orr said. “I had to get that strike one. It was easy going after that. Everything was kind of working today.”
Brady Birchmeier drove in three runs and joined Matt Kieffer, Orr and Julius Garza with two hits. Birchmeier doubled while Kieffer had two RBIs. Lienau, New Lothrop’s leadoff hitter, starred defensively at shortstop and also scored four runs.
Garza’s walk off base hit in the fifth scored New Lothrop’s 10th and final run and produced the mercy-rule victory.
“It feels good to win a little hardware and have our work pay off,” Garza said. “It’s always hard coming back after a loss. But once we got our head back in it, we were able to hit the ball and we did well.”
Durand (14-8 overall) got hits from Brock Holek, Dylan Freier and Sayer Robinson.
Trenton Boisclair took the loss. He worked the first 2 2/3 innings, surrendering eight runs on seven hits. He struck out one and walked five.
DURAND 4, NEW LOTHROP 2
Durand 000 103 0 — 4 7 1
New Lothrop 000 001 1 — 2 10 0
WP: Max Ortmann, Durand (7 IP, 2 R, 10 H, 2 K, 2 BB).
LP: Jacob Graves, New Lothrop (6 1/3 IP, 4 R, 7 H, 8 K, 1 BB)
Hits: New Lothrop — Kollin Lienau 2-4, Nathaniel Lane 2-4 (RBI), Cannon Cromwell 2-3, Matt Kiefer 1-3, Brady Birchmeier 1-4, Cam Orr 1-4, Colby Hemgesberg 1-2. Durand — Kyle Winslow 3-3 (HR, 4 RBIs), Dylan Freier 1-4 (R), Trenton Boisclair 1-3, Ben Nebo 1-3, Max Ortmann 1-3 (R).
NEW LOTHROP 10, DURAND 0
Durand 000 00 — 0 3 1
New Lothrop 125 02 — 10 11 0
WP: Cam Orr, New Lothrop (5 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 3 K, 2 BB)
LP: Trenton Boisclair, Durand (2 2/3 IP, 8 R, 7 H, 1 K, 5 BB)
Hits: New Lothrop — Matt Kieffer 2-2 (2 RBI), Brady Birchmeier 2-3 (3 RBI, 2B), Cam Orr 2-3 (RBI), Julius Garza 2-3 (RBI), Cannon Cromwell 1-3 (R), Jacob Graves 1-3 (R), Kollin Lienau 1-2 (RBI, 4 R). Durand — Brock Holek 1-3, Dylan Freier 1-3, Sayer Robinson 1-2.
Records: New Lothrop 24-8-1, 12-2 MMAC. Durand 14-8, 10-4 MMAC.