In Play with Tom Markowski

Allen Park one of many Downriver League teams looking to make their mark as the state tournament begins this week

Baseball   | Tom Markowski

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Allen Park – The state tournament starts Tuesday and a number of teams from the Downriver League have high expectations after experiencing much success during the regular season.

Allen Park, Gibraltar Carlson, Taylor Kennedy, Woodhaven and Wyandotte Roosevelt all were in contention for the league title throughout most of the season. Allen Park, Kennedy and Woodhaven finished in a three-way tie for first and all were ranked in the top 10 in Division 1 by the Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association late in the season. Woodhaven finished at No. 7, Kennedy was at No. 10 and Allen Park fell out of the top 10 despite defeating Woodhaven in its regular season finale, 4-2.

Allen Park (24-8, 13-5) will host Dearborn Fordson in a pre-district Tuesday at 4 p.m. The winner advances to Saturday’s district semifinal against Lincoln Park and the other semifinals pits Detroit Western against the host team, Dearborn Edsel Ford.

Of the 10 league members only Trenton and Carlson have won state titles. Two others, Kennedy and Southgate Anderson, reached a state final.

Glenn Gulliver is in his 16th season as Allen Park’s head coach and he said the quality of play in the league has never been better.

“The pitching is better,” Gulliver said. “And teams are catching the ball. We’re catching the ball. That’s been our strength. That and our pitching. We’ve left a lot of runners on base. That’s been a problem.”

Gulliver has just three seniors on the team but all have contributed significantly this season. Dan Monear signed with Rochester College and is the ace of the staff. Jimmy Howell will attend Adrian College and he splits time between catcher and first bvase. Troy Konwinski will attend Defiance (OH) College. Konwinski (OF) is one of the team’s top hitters as he showed during a four-game stretch that saw him collect 12 hits.

The Jaguars have the makings of a team that has the potential to make a long tournament run. Pitching depth is of the outmost importance and Allen Park has four or five whom Gulliver can count on. Connor DeVoe is a junior right-hander and he was on his game in the victory over Woodhaven.

“All of us are a little better this year,” Gulliver said of the teams in his league. “Look at the pitching. Kennedy has (Tyler) Butzin (signed with Eastern Michigan) and Wyandotte has (Tyler) Thorington (committed to Western Michigan). Carlson has good pitching and so does