Prep Baseball Report

Division 1 Team Of The Week: 3rd Edition - Hartland

Bruce Hefflinger
Michigan Senior Writer

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Division 1 Team Of The Week: 3rd Edition - Hartland

HARTLAND - After a difficult beginning to the season, Hartland has been one of the hottest teams in the state.

Winners of 12 of their last 14, the Eagles had five victories last week, including a big league win over Northville, to improve to 12-6-1 on the season and recognition as the Prep Baseball Division 1 Team of the Week.

“We’re doing better in a lot of stuff,” noted head coach Brad Guenther, whose Eagles lost four games by a total of five runs and had a tie in the first week of the season. “In our first game against (Uli) Fernsler from Novi we had 19 strikeouts. Since then we’ve really cut down on strikeouts. This week we had a combined 19 in five games.”

While “pitching and defense have been good all year” according to Guenther, the Hartland mentor points to the sticks coming alive as a big part of the recent success that has the Eagles entering this week on an eight-game winning streak. 

“Our offense is really clicking,” explained Guenther. “We’ve had quality at-bats and put the ball in play with hard contact.”

Brayden Crowe, the 13th-rated junior catcher in Michigan, was 9-16 with 16 RBIs last week, producing two hits while driving in four runs in a 7-4 win over Canton.

There was also an 8-5 victory over Canton two nights later with sophomore Michael Bernardi coming in to shut the door with three scoreless innings of relief, throwing 32 of 42 pitches for strikes that resulted in five Ks.

“He works at a fast tempo and our defense loves him,” Guenther said. “His energy sparked us.”

Junior southpaw Justin Fisher came up huge in Friday’s 4-3 win over second-ranked Northville, permitting seven hits and three runs in 5.1 innings.

“He didn’t get the win, we pulled him in the sixth, but he kept us in the game,” Guenther noted. “Then we found a way to win late. They had played a lot of games and we got to them once their starter was out.”

Hartland scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the sixth. Lucas Frack hit a one-out, two-strike double, Bobby Griffon followed with a single and Brady Quinn brought in the fourth Hartland run of the game with a fielder’s choice ground out.

Quinn and Frack lead the squad in batting with better than .500 averages, while Griffon, a junior shortstop “who has been phenomenal in the field with his instincts, decision-making, glove and hands” according to Guenther, hit .450 for the week.

The Eagles closed out the week on Saturday with a 9-1 win over Grand Rapids Christian and a 20-6 victory over Granville, a game Hartland trailed 6-4 before a three-run fifth and 13-run sixth.

“We lost a lot of pitching from last year and were flying under the radar,” pointed out Guenther, who lost a dozen seniors from a 22-12 squad a year ago but is now ranked 20th in the state in Division 1. “We’re a totally different team this year. We’re hitting. Last year we had a down year offensively, but I’m really surprised how good we’re hitting this year.”

There is more that stands out to the Hartland mentor in addition to a team batting average of .362.

“This team is really coachable,” Guenther said. “We’ve also had pitching, guys stepping up that were behind seniors last year or on the JVs, doing a fabulous job. We knew Justin Fisher was good, but we didn’t expect him to be this good.”

With the top four pitchers from last season graduated, it has been Landon Brown, the 58th-rated senior RHP in Michigan, Fisher and Bernardi leading the staff. Wright State commit Michael Zielinski, a left-hander ranked third in the state among 2025 outfielders, is also working his way back into the mix.

“We don’t know exactly what we have,” Guenther admitted. “We lost 12 seniors, but this group is talented in its own way. We’re aiming high, looking to build momentum and to be better at the end of the year.”

Two games with Brighton are slated this week for the Eagles, which are 5-3 in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association West Division and looking to stay in the race.

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