Division 1 Team Of The Week: Week 3 - Battle Creek Lakeview

Bruce Hefflinger
PBR Michigan Senior Writer

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Division 1 Team Of The Week: Week 3 - Battle Creek Lakeview

BATTLE CREEK - A trip to the state Final Four a year ago has Battle Creek Lakeview looking for more in 2023. If the pitching continues to shine like it has in a 15-1 start to the season, it could be a memorable campaign for the Prep Baseball Report Division 1 Team of the Week.

“Our expectations were and are very high,” admitted sixth-year head coach Kyle Kracht, whose team has now won 14 in a row. “Record-wise we have lived up to it, but we have not played great baseball yet. However, our pitching has been very, very good.”

That was evident last week when Lakeview pitchers threw a perfect game, a two-hitter, three-hitter and five-hitter in six victories. 

Brayden Longenecker had the perfect game in a 16-0 blanking of Loy Norrix while Jackson Haywood allowed two hits and Malachi Goss three in a sweep of Gull Lake on Thursday, 10-0 and 11-1. Strong pitching continued on Saturday for the Spartans, which also defeated Loy Norrix 12-2 in game two on Wednesday.

Jake Kucharczyk tossed a five-hitter in a 7-4 win over Jackson Northwest in game one on Saturday before Lakeview capped off a perfect week when Jayden Miller broke a 5-5 tie with an RBI single in the sixth inning en route to a 7-5 victory over Gull Lake to capture the inaugural PBR Spring Classic, the Perry & Bommersbach Invitational.

“We need to continue to pitch well and play good defense,” noted Kracht, who has 11 seniors on this year’s roster. “But we need to be better with runners in scoring position.”

Opponents have not had the luxury of putting runners in scoring position too often this season against the state’s fourth-ranked Division 1 squad, which has a 2.00 team ERA with 101 strikeouts. 

Haywood, Jake Kucharczyk and Longenecker are all 3-0 on the season while Goss stands 2-1. Haywood, a Kellogg Community College commit rated 28th among senior right-handed pitchers in Michigan, has 18 strikeouts, Kucharczyk has a team-high 28 Ks and Longenecker, a Grace Christian commit, 23. Gross, a senior RHP, has sent 14 batters back to the dugout via strikeout.

Four players are batting .300 or better for the Spartans, which have a team batting average of .309 and an on-base percentage of .471. Cade Oxley leads the way with a .472 mark while Jake Kucharczyk, the ninth-rated junior outfielder in Michigan, is at .409. Zach Kucharczyk, the sixth-ranked 2024 catcher in the state, is hitting .362 while Miller, a Kellogg signee rated 234th in Michigan’s senior class, comes in with a .300 average.

“We are not swinging the bats real well yet,” related Kracht, whose Spartans are seeking their third consecutive district title, first league championship since 2017 and seventh Cereal City championship in the past 10 seasons. “I think we’re putting a lot of pressure on ourselves. We need to loosen up and just play baseball and have fun.”

Another big week finds the fifth-rated team in the PBR Michigan Power 25 Ratings taking on Battle Creek Central on Thursday and Howell on Friday before participating in the Stevensville Lakeshore Tournament on Saturday.