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Spring Lake baseball team relishing the underdog role

Josh VanDyke • Jun 8, 2018 at 5:00 AM

The Spring Lake baseball team knew they weren't expected to beat Kenowa Hills in the district semifinals at Hickman Field last weekend. However, after a successful season in the O-K Blue Conference, this collection of Laker sluggers weren't ready for the season to end.

Spring Lake rallied for a 4-3 win over the Knights in extra innings of the semifinals and shut out league foe Coopersville 5-0 in the finals to keep the good times rolling into Saturday's regional semifinals at Hope College.

"I'm excited to see where this team can go from here," said Spring Lake head coach Jeff Lindsey. "Last Friday, I talked to the team after our last practice before districts, and I really didn't know what to expect out of them the next day. They showed up to play, and if we can get that same team this weekend, I think we'll be in the hunt."

Lindsey has helped build the Laker program back into contention, and a chance for a regional championship would be a crowning achievement for him and his program.

"It would mean a lot to me because our goal since I got here was to create a consistent winner," he continued. "That's the goal at Spring Lake, and we haven't shied away from that. We always want to be playing for championships, whether that's conference, districts, regionals or state. The kids that have stuck with baseball throughout their careers have gotten better and better each offseason, and this year's success is due to all their hard work.

"As much as it would mean to me, I think the guys on this team deserve it."

The first roadblock for the Lakers will be a Middleville Thornapple Kellogg team that is almost a mirror image of Spring Lake.

The Trojans have an ace pitcher in Dakota Phillips, who threw a complete game in the team's district finals win, and also have talented sluggers in Colin Thomas, Nate Hobert and Kyler Podbevsek.

"We know they are a quality team," added Lindsey. "They aren't going to make a lot of mistakes and they rely on their pitching and defense to win. Like us, their record probably doesn't show their true talent level, because we both play in difficult conferences during the regular season."

After looking for last weekend's results, Lindsey was surprised to see that his team might still have a lot left in the tank on the offensive end.

"We were looking over the stats from last weekend, and I noticed that we really didn't hit the ball that well. We just had some timely hits that helped us produce runs when we absolutely needed them. I think we can string together a few strong performances throughout our lineup this time around."

In order to do that, the Lakers will need consistency and patience at the plate and they need their senior leaders to shine through.

"We can really get going when our lineup is patient at the plate. We are solid from No. 1 to No. 6, but we need the bottom part of our lineup to get on base a few times in order to put more pressure on the other team's pitchers. Zack Keyser is really stepping up at the No. 7 spot in the lineup, and he's become a key bat for us.

"After that, Rylan Peets needs to be hitting his marks on the mound. When he's on his game, we have a chance to beat anybody we go up against. He's dynamic pitcher and he might be the biggest game-changer for us."

SCOUTING REPORT: Middleville Thornapple Kellogg Trojans

Key Players: Dakota Phillips (P), Colin Thomas, Nate Hobert and Kyler Podbevsek.

ROAD TO THE REGIONAL

DISTRICTS

Defeated Wayland Union (5-0)

Defeated West Mich. Aviation Academy (4-1)

Defeated Grand Rapids South Christian (1-0)

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