by Calli Townsend
A close game blew wide open in the fifth inning as Marine City’s 10U Little League team won the District 7 title. The 17-3 victory over St. Clair happened on July 17 in Richmond.
“These guys I coach, we put it all out there,” head coach Dan Van de Vyver said. “These kids have put in the hard work, they don’t deserve it, they earned it.”
The Mariners took an early 3-0 lead by the top of the third inning, but St. Clair rallied back with a pair of singles and a double that scored two runs in the bottom of the third. The Saints then hit another double that scored another to tie the game, 3-3.
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Marine City stepped to the plate next and faced three consecutive outs, making it seem like St. Clair was on its comeback. The Saints had the same three-out fate on their next at-bats, however, leaving the score tied at three heading into the top of the fifth.
That’s when the Mariners took advantage of a weakened St. Clair defense. They scored three runs on three walks and two errors in the top of the fifth to extend their lead, 7-3.
The Saints were still in the game heading into the top of the sixth, but Marine City went on a 10-run rally to put the game out of reach. It started with a pair of walks followed by a double to center field by Jacob Pretzer, to make it 8-3. A mix of singles and walks then led the Mariners around the bases for nine more runs.
“I think maybe that started the momentum,” Van de Vyver said.
Despite defeating the Saints 17-3, the two teams were much closer in hits than runs. Marine City had five and St. Clair had four. Myles Wilcox led the Mariners at the plate with two singles and two RBI.
Matthew Fregetto pitched nearly the entire game, throwing 74 pitches, facing 22 batters, and striking out three. Wilcox came in to finish the last two outs of the game.
“Pitching is huge in this. With you hit the pitch counts and if you burn your pitchers up, you’re in trouble, and I think that’s what kind of happened with them,” Van de Vyver said. “They didn’t have their top pitchers, and we didn’t either because we burned ours the other day. So our number two came in and I thought he did a pretty good job. We just tried to work the count and get their pitchers sort of burned out.”
The strategy worked as St. Clair had five different arms on the mound throughout the game.
As the District Champions, Marine City will travel to Norway, Michigan, for the first game of pool play in the State tournament.
“For a guy who’s been involved in Little League for 10 years, I’m excited. I can’t wait,” Van de Vyver said. “I don’t know what the expectations are because I’ve never been there. These kids have never been there, my two older boys had never been there either.”
Van de Vyver said baseball has become a family affair, with his son Jacob on this current 10U team, and he also coached both of his other sons who are now playing 15U and 14U travel ball.
“They’re both probably going to go and root on their little brother,” he said. “Their little brother is as good as he is today because of his two older brothers. He always tried to compete with them.”
The first pool play game is set to begin on Friday, July 23, at 11 a.m.