Media Information Director
DPS Office of Athletics
Back to back to back.
Western International won its third consecutive Detroit Public School League baseball championship Tuesday night at Comerica Park with a 12-2 mercy-rule victory in 4 ½ innings against Martin Luther King.
The Cowboys’ offense put the smash in what was a smashing success for the PSL as an estimated 1,500 fans – or about five times more than has been customary – came out to watch the first PSL title game played at night since Comerica Park first hosted the event in 2000.
“We wanted to come here and represent the PSL in a way that would reflect proudly on Western and the league, and that’s what our kids were able to do,’’ Western coach Mike Vazquez said.
The event was billed as DPS Family Fun Day and it succeeded in attracting fans of all ages. Vazquez lauded the 7 p.m start time because it allowed more fans to attend. In past years, the championship game was played in the morning and early afternoon.
“We’ve been pushing for them to make this change for quite a while and, as you can see, it really made a difference,’’ Vazquez said. “It was great for our kids to have so many of their family and fans here. It was just a beautiful thing to see and be a part of.”
Cowboys’ freshman pitcher Hector Gutierrez, 14, gave up just two hits and struck out nine batters for his sixth win without a loss this season. Offensively, Western (20-4-1) was led by catcher Nolan Wilson, who was 2-for 2 with three RBI. Todd Phelps and Joey Alcala each had two hits and Chris Torres had two RBI.
“I was a little nervous, but after the first inning it went away because my teammates were telling me it’s just like another game, just a different ballpark,’’ Gutierrez said. “My curveball was working real well and my fastball was, too.”
King (16-9-1) jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the third inning, scoring first when star centerfield Mark Brown stole home with the bases loaded and two outs. Chris Thomas took second on the play and scored on a wild pitch by Gutierrez to make it 2-0.
Defensively, Coach Norman Taylor’s Crusaders were their own worse enemy. Four errors doomed their effort and they were unable to quell Western’s onslaught.
“We didn’t catch the ball,’’ Taylor said. “We were hoping to get five solid innings out of our pitcher (sophomore Demetrius Bryant), but you have to make plays behind him and we didn’t.’’
Tuesday night’s festivities included the introduction of the All-PSL softball and baseball teams. The honored players were acknowledged between the consolation game, won by Renaissance 7-2 against Cass Tech, and the title game.
Also on hand was Detroit Tigers’ legend Willie Horton, who spoke to the crowd about his experience as a former Northwestern High baseball star and wished the title-game players good luck. Horton also took part in throwing out the ceremonial first pitch, sharing the honors with DPS Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb. Detroit Board of Education Superintendent Teresa Gueyser (Bobb) and DPS Administrator of Athletics Alvin Ward (Horton) did the catching.