Division 2 Team Of The Week: Week 8 - Essexville Garber

Bruce Hefflinger and Dylan Hefflinger
PBR Michigan Senior Writer and Editor in Chief/Scout


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Division 2 Team Of The Week: Week 8 - Essexville Garber

ESSEXVILLE - It wasn’t long ago that this year’s senior class at Essexville Garber nearly made it to the Little League World Series. The success has continued at the high-school level for the Dukes, the Prep Baseball Report Division 2 Team of the Week.

“We have a lot of depth,” noted head coach Jon Jeczmionka, who has 11 seniors on this year’s roster. “We’re deep in pitching and have depth in general, with guys on our bench who can play when they get in.

“These 11 seniors are all high-end players,” added the Garber coach. “They’ve experienced a lot of success. The ones that deserve to play will play and we get the other ones in when we can. They’ve been a pleasure to coach. They’ve been winning since they were 11 or 12 years old. It’s been good for our community. The buzz these guys have created has invigorated this community.”

A 25-5 record at this point in time includes a 13-1 mark in the Tri-Valley Conference East, including a sweep of Birch Run on Monday to clinch a league title, the first since 2019.

“We’ve been hitting the ball well for the most part with all of our 1-9 players almost .300 or better,” related Jeczmionka, whose team is ranked seventh in the most recent Michigan high school poll.

Colin Sackrider tops the team with a .438 average with Ethan Burrows at .382, Tommy Szczepanski .370, Cam Rowley .327, Jack Day .316, Micah Irrer .308, Logan Anthony .294 and Blaise Millar .290. The versatile Burrows plays anywhere according to the head coach with Irrer at catcher, Day second base, Szczepanski a corner infielder, Anthony in center field, Millar at third or catcher and Sackrider and Rowley in the outfield, 

Pitching has been a strong point with Szczepanski, a Michigan commit who attracts a lot of interest to Essexville Garber games, the ace. The 28th-rated 2022 RHP in the nation is 5-1 with a 1.30 ERA, fanning 77 in 37 innings.

“He’s our guy,” Jeczmionka said of the right-hander whose fastball has been clocked at 94 miles an hour. “It’s not uncommon for 12 to 15 pro scouts to be at our games. He’s grown comfortable with that with all the showcases he’s done.”

Sophomore left-hander Max Fellows, “a freak athlete” in the eyes of Jeczmionka, is the number two hurler for the Dukes with a 4-1 record and 3.30 ERA, striking out 36 in 31 frames. Depth comes in the way of Sackrider, who has picked up four wins with four saves, and Burrows, who is 4-0 with one no-hitter and a 2.80 ERA.

“The biggest thing for us is to not beat ourselves,” Jeczmionka said. “If our pitchers throw strikes and we play defense we have a good, good shot.”

But the challenges ahead are enormous.

“We play in one of the toughest districts in the state,” concluded the 12th-year head coach, noting there are four teams in the district field that currently have 23 or more wins. “We need to play well and have a little luck. I’ve done this long enough to know that one bad inning and you’re done and you’re talking about turning in your uniforms.”

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