In Play with Tom Markowski

Karl Kauffmann again leads Brother Rice to league title

Baseball   | Tom Markowski

State Champs! Sports Network

Detroit – Birmingham Brother Rice owns Comerica Park.

The annual Catholic League baseball championships have been played at Comerica Park since 2000 and the Warriors have won eight A-B Division titles including the last five after Thursday’s 5-1 victory over Orchard Lake St. Mary’s.

St. Mary’s is still in search of its first A-B Division title.

“It never gets old,” Brother Rice coach Bob Riker said. “When you add even one new player it’s a whole new dynamic. It’s not about winning. It’s about the ride.”

Karl Kauffmann, Brother Rice’s ace right-hander, gave up one hit through six innings but ran into trouble in the seventh when the Eaglets scored their only run and had four bases runners.

“I started rushing a little,” he said. “I didn’t attack them right away. I was confident I could finish. It was a little iffy there.”

Kauffmann struck out six and walked five, three in the last inning. Overall, it was a stress-free outing. He didn’t throw many pitches, rarely was a ball hit hard off of him and he didn’t get into much difficulty except once when Riker made his only trip to the mound.

Kauffmann, who was the starting and winning pitcher in the 2015 A-B Division final, signed with Michigan and is a leading candidate for the Mr. Baseball award.  

“Anytime you throw strikes and don’t put too many guys on base you’re doing well,” Riker said. “(Christian) Faust’s two-out hit was huge and getting on board with that first run was important.

“In that last inning I told Karl, hey, when are you going to get this done? He was still good. He didn’t lose much.”

The Warriors (26-7) scored all of their runs in one inning.

Kauffmann singled to open the fifth and went to second on a sacrifice bunt. He scored after two wild pitches and on the second Jack Orlowski reached base safely after striking out. An error and a walk loaded the bases, and Christian Faust followed with a two-run single on a full count pitch. Reese Trahey walked to reload the bases and Antonio Flores doubled home two more runs for a 5-0 lead.

St. Mary’s coach Matt Petry didn’t lay the blame on his starting pitcher, Drake Titus. He pointed to his defense as the main culprit.

“(Titus) didn’t struggle at all,” Petry said. “It was our defense. The places we made errors were uncharacteristic. It’s tough to come back from five runs, especially against Karl. Until that last inning he was in a zone.”

Joe Carlini singled in the only run for St. Mary’s (21-11).