2017-06-22 / Sports

Patriots look forward to the remix

By Kelly Krager


Leading by four in the bottom of the fourth inning, the Patriot bench was in high spirits. In addition to typical baseball chants, the players bellowed a variety of songs and laughed at each others’ antics. Above, outfielder Macklin Gettel dons binoculars fashioned from paper cups. The revelry quickly faded after St. Patrick tied the game at eight in the fifth. 
Photos by Kelly Krager Leading by four in the bottom of the fourth inning, the Patriot bench was in high spirits. In addition to typical baseball chants, the players bellowed a variety of songs and laughed at each others’ antics. Above, outfielder Macklin Gettel dons binoculars fashioned from paper cups. The revelry quickly faded after St. Patrick tied the game at eight in the fifth. Photos by Kelly Krager EAST LANSING - Unionville- Sebewaing Area baseball fans don’t need to watch the game to know how their team is fairing.

When the team feels favor in the game momentum, the stadium and beyond can hear their frenzy for the win. If the dugout’s swingin’, so are the Patriots.

Typical baseball chants, like “swing batter,” are rare from the cohesive team, which is more likely to croon “International Farmer” when a teammate whose family farms is batting or to intone a WWII fighting song after a run.


USA catcher Cooper Kauffold snags a pop up to end a game-changing rally by Portland St. Patrick. USA catcher Cooper Kauffold snags a pop up to end a game-changing rally by Portland St. Patrick. Following USA’s 12-8 loss to Portland St. Patrick Friday at the Division 4 State Semifinals at Michigan State University, Coach Tyler Bader said the team’s enthusiasm and spirit made the Patriots exciting to watch and coach.

“They love the game. That’s what made this season so fun is that every game, you didn’t look in the dugout and say, ‘man, these guys are uptight.’ They’re having a blast, because they’re playing a game that they like, and they’re winning,” he said.

The team’s a cappella dugout performances started about halfway through the season.

“I didn’t know where it was even coming from, but it kept them loose and it just became their thing. I thought as long as it helps us win, I could care less what they’re singing,” Bader said.


Patriot Myles Geiger meets his teammates with high- and low-fives when he enters McLane Stadium at Michigan State University before the start of USA’s state semifinal game against Portland St. Patrick Friday. Also on the field are, pictured from left, Cody Finkbeiner, Cooper Kauffold, Paul Miklovic and Hunter Bohn. Patriot Myles Geiger meets his teammates with high- and low-fives when he enters McLane Stadium at Michigan State University before the start of USA’s state semifinal game against Portland St. Patrick Friday. Also on the field are, pictured from left, Cody Finkbeiner, Cooper Kauffold, Paul Miklovic and Hunter Bohn. Along with the songs, the players showed solidarity with simultaneous hand signals that had no apparent meaning to onlookers, and several of the players dyed their hair the same rusty blonde.

During their first four at bats, Patriot players passed around goofy binoculars fashioned from Gatorade cups and laughed uproariously at each others’ antics. When St. Patrick pulled their pitcher in the third inning, USA players crouched on an overturned bucket and rated the new pitcher’s warm-up throws with a mocked up paper radar gun.


Ryan Kain bunts in the fourth, reaching first and sending Myles Geiger home. Ryan Kain bunts in the fourth, reaching first and sending Myles Geiger home. The merriment dwindled a bit when St. Patrick began to rally in the fourth, and in the fifth, when the Shamrocks tied the game at eight, it seemed as though someone pressed a mute button in the Patriot dugout.

As the fervor flagged, so did USA’s batting game.

“Anytime you’ve got a four-run lead, and things are going good and you’re putting up runs, and they come out and throw a punch at you, I think it knocks us back a little bit. I think that’s probably the first time I felt our inexperience of being here in this game showed up a little bit.

It was just tough to get the wheels rolling again. We had guys in scoring position, and we just couldn’t get a timely hit,” Bader said.

The Shamrocks entered the game strong, but USA’s spirits stayed high as the team responded in the bottom of the inning with Hunter Bohn reaching home on a double by Cooper Kauffold.


USA third-baseman Myles Geiger reacts with disbelief when St. Patrick’s Brendan Schrauben is called safe after knocking the ball into deep left field and sending a runner home. With two outs in the top of the fifth inning, the run tied the game at eight. 
Photos by Kelly Krager USA third-baseman Myles Geiger reacts with disbelief when St. Patrick’s Brendan Schrauben is called safe after knocking the ball into deep left field and sending a runner home. With two outs in the top of the fifth inning, the run tied the game at eight. Photos by Kelly Krager After St. Patrick widened the lead with another run in the second, the Patriots capitalized on two errors that led Devin Riskey around the bases and aided Bohn’s advancement. A sacrifice fly to center field by Kauffold sent Bohn home to tie the game.

USA’s defense was in high form in the third, with plays from the field knocking out the first three batters. Kauffold caught St. Patrick’s Brendan Schauben too far off first, and Myles Geiger snagged a fly in center field. Second-baseman Brendan Prime ended the inning by lobbing a grounder to first.


Devin Riskey bounds out of a slide after successfully stealing third base to see St. Patrick’s left field scrambling to recover the overthrown ball. In an acrobatic display, Riskey turned his focus toward home, scoring on the error in the second inning. Devin Riskey bounds out of a slide after successfully stealing third base to see St. Patrick’s left field scrambling to recover the overthrown ball. In an acrobatic display, Riskey turned his focus toward home, scoring on the error in the second inning. The Patriots rode the momentum while at bat, starting with an impressive double by Geiger. Prime reached first on the Shamrock’s third error, and Ryan Kain loaded the bases with a single. Nic Lutz walked to send 30 Geiger home, and a sacrifice by Riskey put a fifth run on the board. Bohn and Kauffold each added an RBI to put the Patriots up 7-3.

The Patriots and St. Patrick traded runs in the fourth, with USA’s run coming Geiger on a single by Kain.

Bader said he pushed the team to widen the gap.

“I was not feeling easy with a four-run lead. I just knew we had to get more, because they kept coming back,” he said.

The coach’s ill ease became prescience in the fifth, when the tide turned for USA. The Patriots were visibly and audibly demoralized when Devin Fedewa reached third, beating a throw from the outfield to third-baseman Geiger so narrowly photographers stationed near the base said it appeared Fedewa touched the bag at the same time as the tag. The hit drove home the first two of four runs to even the scores at eight.

Singles by Paul Miklovic and Finkbeiner left the two stranded in the bottom of fifth, and USA did not have another hit in the game.

Bohn, Riskey and Miklovic each caught fly balls to stall the Shamrocks in the sixth, but St. Patrick came back to plate four in the seventh.

Bader said the loss was especially painful because the Patriots had victory in sight, only to watch the lead suddenly collapse in one inning.

“Baseball is a cruel game when momentum comes, and you just have to kind of manage the storm. We weren’t able to get it back when they tied it,” he said.

Despite the loss, Bader said he believes the Patriots’ first trip to the semifinals will be a springboard for future success.

“I know those guys, and it’s not going to be they’re just happy to be here this year. It’s going to be day one, off season, starting tomorrow, and they’re going to be ready to get back,” he said immediately after the game. “Going back, I’m going to tell them, ‘you played an entire seven-inning game, and they had to beat us in the seventh inning.’ At the end of the day, we can hang our hat on that.”

While the softball team regularly competes in the state championship tournament, Bader said his team was excited to get their shot at the title.

“We felt the community definitely got on the baseball train this year. We were pumped about that,” he said. “We’re sad for the softball team, but we were pumped to be the sole representative this year. I felt we carried that flag pretty well.”

The team will return a majority of key players, but Bader said the underclassmen will need to fill leadership roles held by seniors this season.

The Patriots will lose six to graduation: outfielder Paul Miklovic, second baseman/right fielder Nathan Engelhardt, outfielder Tanner Foley, pitcher/third baseman/center fielder Brendan Prime, pitcher/outfielder Macklin Gettel and pitcher/second baseman Ryan Kain.

St. Patrick advanced to win the state title, beating Hudson 6-2.

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