Top stories of 2022: Bucks win Division 3 title grabs top spot

Published 12:52 pm Saturday, December 31, 2022

NILES — On the final day of 2022, Leader Publications wraps up its top 10 sports stories for the year.

It has been a banner year for southwest Michigan with a little bit of everything, but the story that earned the top spot was nearly 40 years in the making.

In 2021, the Buchanan baseball team came within a game of playing for its first state championship in 37 years. The Bucks, who were ranked No. 1 for the second straight season, not only reached the championship game back in June, but defeated Detroit Edison 3-1 to capture the Division 3 title.

The Bucks edged Edison in a thriller at McLane Stadium on the campus of Michigan State University. Buchanan won the 1985 Class C state championship for its first crown. The Bucks reached the Division 3 state semifinals last season before falling to eventual champion University of Liggett.

Edison (25-13) grabbed a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the seventh, but Buchanan responded quickly, just as it had in its semifinal 6-1 win over Standish-Sterling Friday night.

The Bucks (30-4) tied the score in the top of the third as, with two outs, Cade Preissing drew a walk, stole second and scored on a double by Matthew Hoover.

The game would remain deadlocked at 1-1 until the top of the fifth, when the Bucks took the lead for good by scoring another run with two outs.

Another walk to Preissing and a stolen base set up Hoover, who doubled again to make it 2-1.

Buchanan sealed the victory with a run in the top half of the seventh.

Preissing again got the rally started by drawing a walk. He advanced to third on back-to-back fielder’s choice plays. Macoy West followed with an RBI single to make it 3-1.

Detroit Edison did not make it easy on Buchanan in the bottom of the seventh as it loaded the bases with two outs. Hoover, who started for the Bucks on the mound and was replaced by West in the sixth inning, returned in the seventh. After the Pioneers loaded the bases, Buchanan Coach Jim Brawley went back to West, who ended the game and the championship drought with a strikeout.

The Bucks finished the game with three runs on five hits. Hoover had the two doubles and West had a pair of singles. Hoover also picks up the win with the save going to West. The two combined on a six-hitter with 10 strikeouts and just two walks.

Here are the other eight stories that made the 2022 list:

2.  Caleb Murphy wins Hendricks Award/DII title

3. Dowagiac girls win first district title in 14 years

4. New SMC sports find success

5. RedBud hosts Motocross of Nations

6. Niles completes new turf football field

7. Brandywine wins 11th tennis title in 14 years

8. Former Niles coach new coach at Canisius

9. Adults baseball league regroups

10. Niles makes playoffs/wins first game