The University Liggett School Knights baseball team saw some ups and downs in its first week back on the diamond. The season began last Tuesday with a 7-4 loss to Crosstown rivals Grosse Pointe North, followed by a new loss Friday against Orchard Lake St. Mary’s. The Knights opened the season by playing against some of the toughest competition the state has to offer, but that’s exactly how coach Dan Cimini likes it.
“We always play the best teams and we want to play the best competition,” said Cimini. “We do not shy away from anyone. Win or lose, it makes us better, and that’s our philosophy. I want to play the best players, meet the best pitching. I want these kids to see the best of the best, so when we get to the playoffs, there’s nothing we have not seen. “
After a couple of losses to open the season, Liggett’s luck finally began to turn over the weekend. The Knights hosted the U of D Jesuit for a double header on Saturday, and celebrated the day with victories of 4-2 and 5-0.
Superb pitching for Liggett was a factor in both of Saturday’s victories. In game one, Jack Jones got the start and allowed only one hit and no runs through four rounds, with Michael Clark throwing three rounds of relief, giving up two runs on two hits, while the pair managed to knock out a total of eight strokes.
After that, a dominant pile performance in game two was by senior Alec Leonard, who threw a complete shutout, only surrendering four hits and hitting eight hitters. After the victories on Saturday, Cimini said he was impressed and proud of how his pitchers performed.
“Mikey Clark has done a great job this year in the six innings he has thrown. He has hit very well for us. He is hitting the strike zone … and he is very confident in himself, which is great for me,” “Alec Leonard did well on Saturday. He beat the strike zone and kept them in balance and worked fast…. It’s exciting to see him play a complete game like that.”
Joey Randazzo, Matthew Greene and Kurt Barr all recorded RBI in the first double-header victory, while Ryan Jones was the only Knights player to be credited with an RBI in the second victory. As things have started to pick up for Liggett, it is the team’s defense ability that Cimini believes will help them continue to succeed.
“I think our defense is as good as anyone else’s, and if anyone hits a ball, we’ll make the play,” he said. “Our pitchers have to do their job, and we have to put some runs on the board and let our defense play.”
The Knights rounded out the first week of the game with two major wins in a double top against Oakland Christian, taking the wins 16-0 and 4-1, led by a perfect pitching performance by Joey Randazzo.