LIVONIA, Mich. - - On a day where the Madonna University tallied a sweep of its double header against the University of Northwestern Ohio, head coach Greg Haeger joined an exclusive club in the coaching fraternity with his 500th career victory in game two, a 6-5 MU win in 10 innings. MU won game one 11-1 in eight innings.
Haeger - who has the most wins of all active coaches in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference - needed 33 wins coming into the season to reach the mark and his Crusaders tallied win 33 in the day's second game to give MU 32 or more wins in each of the last nine seasons. Haeger is third all-time in WHAC history with his 500 wins over 16 seasons, behind only NAIA Hall of Famers Terry Bocian of Aquinas and the late Hank Burbridge of Spring Arbor who both have over 1,000 career victories.
Over the last eght-plus seasons - since the Crusaders moved into their home at Ilitch Ballpark - Haeger's teams have won 330 games, by far the most in the conference and have won six of the last seven WHAC championships and made two appearances in the NAIA National Championship.
The day's opener - win No. 499 for Haeger - started well early for MU as the Crusaders plated six runs in the bottom of the first off of UNOH starter Adam Ashman. A leadoff walk to sophomore catcher Donny Holland (White Lake, Mich. / Lakeland) started the parade of nine Crusaders to the plate. Junior right fielder Josh Deeg (Lake Orion, Mich. / Lake Orion) had the big blow of the inning, connecting on a grand slam that just stayed inside the foul pole that gave MU the 6-0 lead.
MU's lead grew to 10-0 in the third with junior second baseman Tyler Cotter (Livonia, Mich. / Churchill), junior first baseman Brad Lineberry (Canton, Mich. / Plymouth), Deeg and Holland all collecting RBIs in the inning.
Junior righty Jeremy Gooding (Livonia, Mich. / Divine Child Catholic) cruised through his seven innings of work, striking out seven in earning the win. Gooding (6-5) allowed just a run on three hits before giving way to freshman righty Justin Hicks (Fowlerville, Mich. / Fowlerville). Hicks did not allow a hit and struck out one.
MU put the game way with the 11th run of the game to invoke the run-rule in the bottom of the eighth when junior designated hitter Matthew Cook (Dresden, Ontario / Lambton Kent Secondary) singled home sophomore shortstop Victor Barron (Fowlerville, Mich. / Fowlerville) to seal the win.
Harder led MU at the plate with three hits while Cook and Pelletier each added a pair of hits in the win to go along with five runs batted in from Deeg.
Ashman (4-2) took the loss for UNOH while a trio of Racers each had a hit.
Cook got the start in game two and was staked to a 3-0 lead after three innings. Senior Dan Harder (Brighton, Mich. / Brighton) singled home MU's first run in the first to score Lineberry before adding another RBI single in the third that scored senior Drew Adamiec (Walled Lake, Mich. / Western) to make it 2-0. Junior left fielder Steve Pelletier (Farmington Hills, Mich. / Harrison) then delivered a sacrifice fly two batters later to score Lineberry for a 3-0 lead.
UNOH got a run in the bottom of the third and two more off of Cook in the fourth to tie the game at 3-3 after four innings.
MU added a single run in the top of the fifth on a RBI double by Cook that scored Harder to give the Crusaders a 4-3 lead. The lead grew to 5-3 in the sixth when junior third baseman Spencer Sarel (Brighton, Mich. / Brighton) led the inning off with his first career triple and came home two batters later on a single by Holland for the two-run cushion.
The Racers did not go quietly in the last of the seventh, getting to junior right hander Randall Stempek (Hartland, Mich. / Hartland) for a pair of runs to tie the game at 5-5 and send the two sides to extra innings.
After the Crusaders stranded a pair of runners in the top of the eighth, the Racers had runners at first and second with one out. Senior righty Andy Omilian (Plymouth, Mich. / Detroit Catholic Central) induced Fabian Placencia to hit into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.
Both sides went down in order in the ninth to send the game to the decisive 10th inning. Deeg worked a two-out walk and advanced to third on a double by Sarel to put two on for Cotter. Cotter struck out but the ball was dropped behind the plate and the throw attempting to record Cotter at first was into the runner and allowed Cotter to reach and Deeg to score from third to give MU a 6-5 lead.
Omilian worked around a two-out walk and a hit to get Ben Smith to pop out to end the game and give the Crusaders the sweep.
Omilian (1-0) earned his first win of the season, striking out one in his 2.2 innings of relief. Cook struck out two while scattering seven hits in his seven innings of work in the no decision. Cook retired the last seven batters he faced.
Harder and Sarel each had three hits for MU while Lineberry scored a pair of runs.
Dylan Brammer (3-1) took the loss for UNOH, throwing two innings after playing in the infield in both games. Alex McKinstry had three hits for UNOH while Smith added two for the Racers in the loss.