Prep Baseball Report

Division 1 Team Of The Week: 2nd Edition - Birmingham Groves

Bruce Hefflinger
Michigan Senior Writer

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Division 1 Team Of The Week: 2nd Edition - Birmingham Groves

BEVERLY HILLS - Taking two of three from state-ranked Seaholm plus a win over a team from Canada has Birmingham Groves being recognized as the Prep Baseball Division 1 Team of the Week.

“We’ve really played well under pressure,” noted head coach Shawn Morrison, whose squad entered this week with an 11-2 record. “Our offensive production is significantly higher than 2023 and our pitching staff has stepped up with a 2.526 ERA and 1.365 WHIP.

“Additionally, we’re fielding .949 as a team which is the most surprising improvement. If the season ended today, that would be second in fielding percentage out of all teams I’ve coached at Groves since 2016, only behind the 2017 squad which finished 32-7 and ranked third in the state (they fielded .951).”

The week started with a 7-5 loss to Seaholm, but the Falcons rebounded with a 3-1 win a night later and then on Thursday came out on top 1-0 over the 13th-rated Power 25 team in Michigan. An 8-6 victory over St. Thomas of Villanova from Ontario capped off the week.

“Our outlook heading into the season was that we were returning most of our offensive production from 2023 but that our 2023 offensive stat lines were not the greatest,” noted Morrison, whose squad a year ago had just a .259 batting average. “We knew we would need to rely on gains made by our returning players in order to be successful and that is something we’ve done. We also wanted to focus on improving our defense.

“Our pitching was our biggest question mark after we graduated most of our pitching from 2023,” added Morrison, who is also without the ace from that staff who is injured and cannot pitch his senior year. “All of this said, our hitters have improved upon their production from last season and our returning pitchers have worked tirelessly to fill the void from the 2023 squad.  I think the thing that stands out about our squad this year are the intangibles. We figure out a way to win when we’re outmatched by the opposition.”

Cole Bronoel-Cuthrell, the 18th-rated senior left-handed pitcher in Michigan, tossed a five-hit shutout with four Ks and no walks in the 1-0 victory over Seaholm to improve to 5-0 on the season. John Ravela bunted Hunter Tengler to second and Nathan Lucken produced an RBI single to plate Tengler for the lone run of the game, improving the 17th-rated Division 1 team in the state to 5-1 in the Oakland Activities Association White Division, one game back of 6-0 West Bloomfield and one ahead of 4-2 Seaholm.

Bronoel-Cuthrell, a Kalamazoo College commit, has fanned 31 in 31 innings allowing five walks and 26 hits with a 2.032 ERA and 1.000 WHIP.

Senior Jake Rosenwasser, like Bronoel-Cuthrell and all-district performer a year ago, moved to 3-0 on the year in the 3-1 victory over Seaholm and has a 1.167 ERA in 18 innings on the season. The team’s three-hole hitter and a second baseman when not pitching, Rosenwasser leads the Falcons with a .590 average, driving in 21 runs and scoring 15, striking out just twice in 48 plate appearances.

Senior pitcher Lucken, who also plays first base and right field, is 3-1 with a save, throwing 20.1 with a 2.754 ERA for a Groves staff that is without Central Michigan commit Evan Stojanovic, an all-league and all-district player last season who is out with an injury.

In addition to Rosenwasser, the Falcons are getting solid production at the plate from John Ravela, Steven Whitted and Hunter Tengler. Ravela, a senior IF/OF, is hitting .414 with four doubles, two triples, 13 RBIs, 10 runs and 10 walks while Whitted, the 23rd-ranked senior shortstop in Michigan who is signed with Wayne State, is batting .400 with 14 runs. Tengler, a junior third baseman, has a .324 average with three doubles and 11 RBIs.

Brady Vachazone, a senior catcher committed to Henry Ford, has caught 74 of 88.2 innings the team has been in the field and allowed just five stolen bases, thrown out three and picked off a runner.

“With any team that finds success, we need to recognize that we have to ‘earn every win’ and make sure that none of our players fall into a mindset that past performance is indicative of future results,” Morrison said. “We need to continue to win the intangible war and ensure that we aren’t outhustled or outworked and that our baseball IQ will allow us to prevail in high-pressure situations.

“With a large senior class, we also need to make sure that all of our guys stay dialed in at the end of the season as the rest of the student body is detaching themselves from their high school association. We need to make sure that we continue to prioritize our commitment to this school and this team.”

The Falcons have a three-game set with Farmington this week before the same thing next week with West Bloomfield and the week after with North Farmington in OAA action.

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