For six innings, Western International looked miscast as the underdogs in its Division 1 state quarterfinals game against Temperance Bedford in the Michigan High School Athletic Association baseball playoffs.
Coach Mike Vazquez’s Cowboys (18-13) jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning and that’s where the score stayed until the top of the seventh when Temperance Bedford (35-5) showed why many considered it the favorite to advance to Friday’s semifinals.
Living up to their nickname, the Kicking Mules kicked the Cowboys straight in the gut by scoring three runs in the seventh inning, keyed by Mike Blake’s two-out, two-run double, to claim a 3-2 victory at the University of Michigan’s Ray Fisher Stadium.
The Cowboys’ sophomore pitcher Hector Guttierrez allowed just three hits before walking two batters and giving up a pair of doubles in the seventh. Western International would have been the first Detroit Public School League team to win a baseball state quarterfinal game under the current playoff format.
“A lot of people thought this was going to be a cakewalk for us, but it was anything but that,” Temperance Bedford coach Craig Trychel said. “That’s a great baseball team. That pitcher is as good as anybody we’ve seen.”
Vazquez said he had no doubt his team would make a good account and expressed optimism going forward.
“We know our kids,” Vazquez said. “We knew they were going to compete. When we play our nonconference schedule we talk about being prepared for late in the season. We knew our kids were there. With 12 sophomores and six freshmen, we’ll be back.”