ORCHARD LAKE – If you play video games enough, you know the feeling Ike Irish had when he went online with his first outburst of the day.
It was undoubtedly a home run, gone the moment he left the bat, a first-inning three-run home run that cleared the cell tower utility building beyond the fence of the right field at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Dan Petry Field.
“Yeah, I knew that one from the start. I also did bat-flips — like the first time I did that, but I don’t know…” the OLSM senior said. “I play ‘MLB: The Show’ a lot. Right? You press ‘Perfect/Perfect’. That’s what I did.”
It was just one of the video game-like numbers the No. 1-ranked Aiglons put together on Saturday in sweeping Novi Detroit Catholic Central, ranked No. 11, winning 10-0 in six innings and 19-4 in four.
Irish, Auburn’s commitment, hit three of seven home runs for the Aiglons (3-0) – consecutive batting in Game 2 – racking up eight RBIs in the final drink, after Brock Porter and Parker Brzustewicz got combined for 12 strikeouts and no hits allowed in the opener.
In total, OLSM had 25 hits in just under 10 innings (Game 1 ended with one out in the sixth) and walked 19.
“It was a pitch, they get three runs on a pitch, you guys can’t walk, we’ve got 15 walks tonight, we just have to limit that. He just can’t beat the No. 1 in the country playing like this, so we’ll clean up our stuff,” said CC coach Ryan Rogowski.
“We have a very good team. We’re one of the best teams in the state – you’re just playing against one of the best teams in the country, and we know we have to do our best to get them. We fought. It’s just that we will learn and we will continue. That’s what we want. We know what we are up against. And we just wouldn’t want it any other way. We can’t wait to play them four more times. And it’s hard to beat someone six times, so we’re gonna keep rolling. And man, it’s a good team.
Game 1 was a four-inning pitching duel, as CC’s Brayden Laroo and OLSM’s Porter faced off. CC left fielder Griffin Crampton hit a home run in the fourth inning to maintain a scoreless tie, but when Shamrocks center fielder Evan Haeger couldn’t replicate the feat on a Jake Dresselhouse outburst to lead the fifth, things unraveled quickly.
The Aiglons made it 4-0 before the end of the inning, scoring on a wild pitch and a two-run single from Ryan McKay. Jack Crighton made it 5-0 with an RBI single in the sixth, then McKay followed up another walk to Irish – his third of the game – with a two-run double to make it 7-0. Irish scored on an error, then Blake Grimmer’s two-run homer brought the Aiglons to within the 10-run leniency rule.
“Ike had two or three walks in that first game and Ryan McKay had it for the RBIs behind him. And you know, with our programming, you’re going to have to choose who you want to talk to. And it’s up to these next guys to step in, and that’s what Ryan McKay did in Game 1. And Ike did a good job in game two when he had pitches to hit. He took advantage of it,” OLSM coach Matt Petry said. “He has a mature approach. He’s not trying to homer, he’s trying to hit the ball hard. And it turns out that they go to the fence. … He’s patient too. He’s not expanding the area, trying to leave the yard or anything like that. He takes what is given to him, and with his power, the guys will try to stay away from him, but he is able to chase the ball away from him.
The Shamrocks (2-3) did exactly what Rogowski asked them to do in Game 2, jumping on the Aiglons early, to see if they could get the Aiglons back on their heels.
Evan Haeger led the game with a home run, then Brady Blakita followed suit, giving CC a 2-0 lead two shots in the last drink, and giving them a chance to see if it made a difference for the Eaglets to have to fight from behind.
He does not have.
Irish gave OLSM a 3-2 four-batter lead in the bottom of the first with his prodigious blast clearing the structure behind the right field fence.
“Lately it’s been with our left-handed power. With Ike and (Nolan) Schubart, and (Blake) Grimmer and even McKay, they put bullets on that building quite frequently – especially at BP and a few times in games,” Petry said. “Before this last year, it didn’t happen very often. Like, I remember (Grosse Pointe South) Carmen Benedetti did it once, and that was about it. This year it was more often.
The Aiglons sent 11 batters home in the second – a rally highlighted by Jack Crighton’s grand slam – scoring five more runs to make it 8-0.
Irish started the fourth with a solo shot, then came back with the bases loaded nine batters later and cleared the deck, becoming the 33rd player in MHSAA history to hit two homers in one inning. His three consecutive home runs at bat (he walked in the second) had come 27 times previously, and he’s three shy of the state record, held by Clare’s Stevan Louch, who hit six straight at bats in a double against Alma in April 2001.
“I just tried to hit the ball. Honestly, I just tried to see it and hit it, the ball looked like a beach ball there,” Irish said. “Our lineup is like – for to put it bluntly – we’re loaded, like one to nine, we’re just loaded and everyone has the power to go deep. … I wanted to be in (game one action), but I just wanted stay in my approach and you know, stay in the zone.