CLINTON, Mich. — The Blissfield Royals were tied at 6 with Michigan Center when their Michigan Division 3 regional baseball semifinal Saturday was suspended by rain at Clinton High School.
But when play resumed Sunday, the Cardinals used a seven-run sixth inning to forge a 14-6 victory to advance to a regional final against Jonesville.
After a scoreless fifth inning from both teams, Michigan Center (25-7) jumped on Blissfield freshman pitcher Ty Wyman in the sixth, mixing a double, four singles, two hit batsmen and a walk for its game-breaking rally.
The Cardinals, who had 15 hits, added a run in the seventh to close the scoring.
The Royals (25-11) used their top two pitchers — senior Kendall Duval and sophomore Dean Wyman — on Saturday, and neither was eligible to pitch Sunday because each exceeded 25 pitches. That required them to have at least one day of rest before pitching again.
The Cardinals’ Jacob Nichols, who relieved starter Jordan Cooper in the bottom of the fourth Saturday, was able to resume because he hadn’t met the pitch count requirement.
Blissfield, which rallied for four runs to tie the game before play was suspended, was scoreless in the final three innings. Nichols earned the victory.
“They are an excellent hitting team and they swung the bats better than we did,” longtime Blissfield head coach Larry Tuttle said of Michigan Center. “We had six hits in the game, and they almost had that many in the sixth.
“Their pitching was good enough to win, and unfortunately we just couldn’t get them out.”
Tuttle, who has been in charge for 51 years, is optimistic his young lineup — which included three freshmen, three sophomores and a junior — gained valuable experience during the season, and thinks that will pay off in the future for the Royals.
“This group was very young, basically like a JV team, and they still won 25 games,” said Tuttle, whose career record is 1,270-415-5 with seven state championships. “Everything we did this year is going to make them a better team next year.
“I look for them to come in next year with a very good idea of what we expect, and we’ll be able to take off right away.”
Blissfield was playing in its 27th regional since Tuttle began in 1968. He plans on returning for a 52nd season.
In Division 4, unranked Summerfield reached the state quarterfinals after posting regional semifinal and final wins Saturday.
The Bulldogs opened with an 8-5 victory vs. Concord, then outlasted host Hudson 4-3 in 11 innings thanks to a game-winning, bases-loaded walk by Anthony Borg.
Summerfield's run continues at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in Battle Creek.
The opponent remains unknown thanks to weather, but it figures to be a tough foe. In a rain-postponed regional final at Decatur, second-ranked St. Joseph Lake Michigan Catholic awaits the winner of 11th-ranked Decatur vs. top-ranked Kalamazoo Hackett. Decatur and Hackett play Monday.
— Steve Junga
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