SOUTH HAVEN — Regular season struggles are nothing new for Lakeshore baseball. The Lancers lost four straight games ahead of Monday’s Division 2 district semifinals at South Haven.
But as in previous years, the two-time defending state champions rose from their late-season woes, defeating Edwardsburg 5-3 for a third straight district title.
“It never gets old to win a district,” Lakeshore coach Mark Nate said. “I’m proud of our kids after losing what we lost last year and going through adversity this year.
“I’m glad they stepped up today because of what we went through our last four games where we got absolutely smoked.”
The district at South Haven was originally scheduled for Saturday. But weekend storms forced the games to be rescheduled to Monday afternoon. The Lancers defeated Niles 10-0 to advance to the final, and Edwardsburg shut out Benton Harbor 20-0 in six innings to move on.
Lakeshore will play Marshall in a regional semifinal at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Coldwater.
Nerves ran high for Nate, whose Lancers (20-16) fell 11-5 and 11-10 in a doubleheader loss to the Eddies (28-7) on May 28. But Cam Dalrymple helped ease some of the anxiety by opening with a solo home run on the first pitch of the game.
Jared Evans added a pair of run on a single, giving Lakeshore a 3-0 lead. The Lancers held that lead until the third inning when Cade Goggins batted a three-run home run over left field to tie the game.
“Man they can hit,” Nate said of Edwardsburg. “We gave up 11 runs against them (in the regular season) and you are waiting for them to explode. Our schedule helps us out a lot, but nobody in my career has scored 11 runs on us, so there is no feel-good spot until that last out.”
Matt DeFay made sure to keep Edwardsburg guessing. He threw a complete game, striking out six batters, and gave up only three runs on three hits.
“Matt did a great job keeping them off balance,” Nate said. “They squared him up a couple of times, but he only gave up two or three hits.”
“I believed in my team and that really helped,” DeFay said of his ability to focus after the big hit. “There is a lot of competition (at this level) and I like it a lot. You just have to trust the team.”
Lakeshore broke the tie in the fourth, and Oli Carmody scored off a wild pitch to add an insurance run in the sixth.
Growth is what Nate is most proud of in his team, and he hopes the Lancers will continue to grow the deeper they go in the postseason.
“They came out and played, acted like they’ve been here before and we get to move to the next step,” he said. “Matt has really, really grown. He started off slow, it’s a different game than (at Lake Michigan Catholic, where he pitched his first two seasons), but he’s built and built pitching wise.
“I’m glad they stepped up. Now, whatever happens, happens. But we get to play on Wednesday.”
Lakeshore 5, Edwardsburg 3
Lakeshore 301 001 0 — 5 7 0
Edwardsburg 003 000 0 — 3 3 1
WP — Matt DeFay, LP — Jonah Sibley
Top hitters — Lakeshore: Cam Dalrymple 1b, HR, RBI; Jared Evans 3 1b, 2 RBIs; Oli Carmody 2 2b, RBI. Edwardsburg: Caden Goggins HR, 3 RBIs; Bryce Blue 1b.
Records — Lakeshore 20-16, Edwardsburg 28-7.