by Peter Jakey–Managing Editor
Onaway (23-11) baseball won its third district title in seven years in a thrilling 1-0 victory over Hillman last Saturday in Rogers City.
A celebration ensued near first base with players throwing gloves in the air and hugging each other when the final out was recorded on Dawson Hilliker’s throw from shortstop.
Cardinal ace Trevor Wregglesworth pitched the district clincher, setting down 10 in a row, after working himself out of a fourth-inning jam.
“To win a close game like that, that’s unbelievable,” said Onaway coach Mike Crull. “It shows what those boys are made of.”
It will be the Cardinal’s second-straight trip to the regional tournament, who were ranked 10th in the final polls of the season. This year, it will be at Glen Lake High School, 30 miles northwest of Traverse City.
The opponent Saturday morning at 10 a.m. will be the Mio Thunderbolts.
On the other side of the bracket are fourth-ranked Gaylord St. Mary and Glen Lake, the home team, who defeated Onaway at the 2017 Rogers City regional.
“Last year, we were happy to get the district title and get to regionals,” said Crull. “This year, we are looking beyond that. We want to make it to East Lansing.”
The Cards’ only run came in when Nick Byrne bunted Lucas Tollini over to third. It’s a play Crull likes to run, but he’s looking for the runner to advance two bases.
When the throw went to first to get Byrne, Tollini kept going as planned to third and the throw across the diamond got away and Tollini hustled home for the lone run.
Hillman’s best scoring opportunity came in the bottom of the fourth when they put runners on second and third with only one out. Wregglesworth struck out the next batter and Brendan Hilliker made a nice running catch in front of him, to preserve the slim lead.
“(Wregglesworth) is special,” said Crull. “There is a reason why he is going on to pitch at the next level. He wants the ball in that situation. After the game he said, ‘I wanted to strike that last kid out.’ ” He struck out nine and allowed only two hits in seven innings.
Tollini was 2-for-3 with a run and stolen base, while Gavin Fenstermaker and Wregglesworth were both 2-for-3.
Onaway won the early game 20-2 over Atlanta. It was 8-1 after five innings, when Onaway exploded for 12 runs in the six.
“Gavin Fenstermaker pitched unbelievable,” the coach said. He struck out 12 and allowed only three hits in six and one-third innings. He also was 4-for-4 with four RBI, a double and three stolen bases.
Tollini was 3-for-5 with a double a five RBI.