Howard Red makes history with fifth titlePublished 4:42pm Monday, July 15, 2013
The Cal Ripken Michigan State Baseball Tournament came to a conclusion on Sunday with one Howard All-Stars team cementing its legacy as perhaps the greatest youth team to ever play the sport in Niles and a second Howard team’s grand upstart to leaving a lasting impression of their own.
In the 12-year-old division, the Howard All-Stars “Red” team capped off certainly one of the most impressive runs in summer baseball history with a fifth consecutive state championship, the team also added the incredible achievement of never losing a single game in state tournament play.
However, Sunday’s championship game would fittingly prove to be the toughest game the kids had ever encountered as visiting Alpena gave the defending champs everything they could handle and then some in a 3-1 finale.
In the end, it was a stroke of luck that carried Howard to the title, as Alpena had two runners on base with no outs in the final inning when a hard struck ball clipped an advancing runner, forcing the inning’s first out and setting up a potential double play, which Howard turned on the next play to secure the win.
“I could not be any happier for these boys,” coach Chris Simpson said. “They’ve put in a ton of time training and preparing themselves for this opportunity. To finish off their youth career in the state like this is truly an incredible thing and I am honored to be a part of it.”
The boys will now travel to Mattoon, Ill., July 24 in search of adding a regional title to their already stellar resumes.
In the 10-year-old division, another Howard All-Star team took home a state title by defeating Alpena in the final game.
However, the 10-year-olds accomplished the feat in much less dramatic fashion than their elder counterparts, winning 14-4 by “mercy rule” in the fifth inning.
The championship served as this group’s first title and they advance to the regional round in Galesburg, Ill. July 17.