Division 2 Team Of The Week: Week 7 - Cheboygan


Bruce Hefflinger and Dylan Hefflinger
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Division 2 Team Of The Week: Week 7 - Cheboygan

CHEBOYGAN - Five shutouts in a six-game week has Cheboygan at 21-1 on the season entering play this week. It also has Ken Baller’s crew being recognized as the Prep Baseball Report Division 2 Team of the Week.

“Our pitching has been very good,” noted Baller, whose staff has been led by senior southpaw Daniel Wilcome and senior right-hander Henry Stempky, who have combined for 171 Ks on the season, Stempky with 93 and Wilcome 78.

This past week Wilcome, a Saginaw Valley commit who also plays right field, center field and first base, struck out 14 against Boyne City. For the season Wilcome is 7-1 with a 0.341 ERA.

Stempky, who plays shortstop, second and third base in addition to pitcher, fanned 20 and took a perfect game into the eighth inning but was pulled due to pitch count after 8.2 innings earlier this season against Sault Ste. Marie. For the season, the Kellogg signee is 5.0 and yet to allow an earned run.

“Daniel is a good solid lefty who changes speeds well,” Baller explained. “He keeps hitters off-balance and has a very good pick off move (three picks this season).

“Henry has good velocity, touching 87-88, with a nice cutter and nice slider. He also does a good job of keeping hitters off-balance.”

A 14-3 win over Grayling began the week on Tuesday before a 16-0 blanking in the nightcap. Brimley was a 14-0, 17-0 victim on Thursday before 5-0 and 1-0 wins over Boyne City Friday.

“We’ve been playing solid defense but it helps when you have kids piling up a lot of strikeouts,” noted Baller, whose team has been fielding at a 92 percent clip.

Senior Tyler Balazovic, who plays short, second, third, outfield and pitcher, leads the team in batting at .460. Sophomore catcher Dylan Balazovic averages ,431 while junior Jacob Jankoviac, a pitcher/1B/2B, is hitting .413.

“The season has exceeded my expectations but the pitching has done an outstanding job and we’ve had timely hitting,” related Baller. “We had some nice timely hitting against Boyne and Tyler Balazovic had the game-winning hit in the bottom of the fifth.

“This team just doesn’t quit,” continued Baller. “Even when things go south, they play hard and don’t let things bother them.”

The success continued on Monday with a sweep of Newberry, giving Cheboygan consecutive Straits Area Conference titles.

“The key for us the rest of the way is timely hitting and our ability to play solid defense,” pointed out Baller, whose Chiefs lost a 5-4 bottom of the seventh heartbreaker to Escanaba in districts a year ago. “One play has the ability to cost you a game when you get to district play.”

Cheboyugan faces Escanaba in a regular-season game on Saturday with a district rematch a possibility.

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