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Dakota scores early and often in district opening win over Utica Ford

Baseball   | Jeff Dullack

State Champs! Sports Network

Sterling Heights – It didn’t take Macomb Dakota long to get going as the Cougars opened up the postseason against Utica Ford on Tuesday afternoon.

Dakota scored six runs in the first three innings as the Cougars cruised to a 6-1 win over Ford in a Division 1 pre-district at Ford.

In the district semifinals, Dakota will face Sterling Heights Stevenson at 10 a.m. on Saturday at Stevenson.

In the second inning, Alex Pogasic notched a two-RBI base hit as a part of Dakota’s 3-run second inning that pushed the Dakota lead to 4-0 after three innings.

That would be more than enough run support for starting pitcher Brendan Schmitz, who allowed just one hit in 4 2/3 innings of work and struck out six to earn the win for the Cougars (25-8).

Dakota coach Matt Carley said that the key to Schmitz’s success on Tuesday was his ability to get ahead in counts and keeping Ford hitters off balance.

“One of the things that we’ve been talking to our kids about all year long is that the most important pitch is strike one,” he said. “Strike one is huge and you get people down in the count and you get them guessing a little bit. If I look at the book, and I’ll go home tonight and I’ll see his ball-to-strike ratio and I bet he’s 70-30 and that’s where he’s been all year.”

Zac Zabonick and James Spilko each went 1-for-2 with an RBI to help lead the way for Dakota on the day.