The Portage Central baseball team has had a target on their backs all season long with three Division 1 signees and a lot of expectations.
On Thursday morning, the Mustangs took on Midland Dow in the state semifinals hoping to punch the program's first ticket to the state championship since 2002.
It would be a hot start in the opening inning after Tennessee signee Gavin Brasosky retired the Chargers in order and Zach MacDonald would score Luke Leto on a sacrifice fly to make it 1-0.
In the bottom of the second, a Kobe Mason lead-off double would set the tone for the inning as Will Sachwitz singled to left-center field to plate two more runs.
The score would remain 3-0 Mustangs until the bottom of the fourth when LSU signee Leto flew out to centerfield but deep enough to score Ryan Dotson from third.
The left-handed Brasosky was rolling on the mound all game long for the Mustangs but would have to pitch around a bit of trouble late.
In the top of the sixth, the Chargers would plate one run but Brasosky would leave to stranded to keep the score 4-1.
With runners on first and third in the Mustang's half of the sixth, Cole Mason would bunt on a sacrifice squeeze to score another insurance run to make it 5-1 Portage Central.
It would be last call for Dow in the top of the seventh and Brasosky would give up one hit and a walk before back-to-back strikeouts to end it to secure the state semifinal victory.
He would finish the complete game with four hits, one earned run and ten strikeouts.
"It's awesome," Brasosky said after the game, "we practice for this every day, prepare for the pressure."
With two SEC commits on the team, Brasosky admits there has been pressure on the team throughout the season but they're glad to be playing in a state finals.
"It does feel like a relief but it's not done yet, we have one more," he added.
Senior shortstop Luke Leto would go 1-for-3 for the game with a run scored and an RBI.
"This is huge, I mean with the kids I go to school with and we get a chance to do something special, a chance to do something that hasn't been done in a while at our school, it's something special," Leto added.
Tennessee signee Gavin Brososky was masterful yet again this morning in the 5-1 win over Midland Dow.— FOX 17 Blitz (@FOX17Blitz) June 17, 2021
CG, 1 ER, 4 H, 10 Ks to lead Portage Central to the state finals! ⚾️👇 pic.twitter.com/VHHC50CGHL
Third-year head coach Cory DeGroote knows it's the first state championship appearance since 2002 but won't take credit for the win.
"To borrow a line from Tom Izzo, player led teams are what wins big games, not coach led teams," he smiled after the game, "it's the leadership of this team that has allowed us to grow this year. Trust me, I know how big this is for our kids, they're playing for a community."
The Mustangs will take on Grand Blanc on Saturday at 9:00 AM at Michigan State University.