By Chad Wingert
TUSCOLA COUNTY — The 2012 season was an exciting one for high school baseball fans around the Thumb area.
There were some upsets, some let-downs, some big wins and some difficult losses. But now that the season has officially come to a close, it’s time for the unveiling of the 2012 Tuscola County Advertiser’s All-Advertiser Baseball Team.
Three area teams came away with conference championships this season.
Reese and Cass City split the top honors in the Greater Thumb West after posting identical 10-2 league records. Frankenmuth broke the trend in the Tri-Valley East when they were crowned Co-Champs of their conference. The Eagles league mark of 10-2 allowed them to share the conference crown with Garber, marking their first TVC East championship since 2001. It’s those accomplishments that have earned all three squads Advertiser Team of the Year honors.
This year’s Coach of the Year award also goes with one of these teams.
After going 8-4 in their conference a year ago, 15-11 overall, Gordon Culver’s turnaround of his Frankenmuth team has made him well-deserving of being named this year’s top skipper.
When it comes down to naming this year’s Player of the Year, there was one canidate who stood out among the rest.
Sure, this junior hurler was one of a handful of names who came to the surface when discussing some of the best baseball players in the area. But, at the end of the day, it was Cass City’s Cody Orban who walked away with this year’s top honor.
“I’ll take Orban against anybody,” said Cass City head coach Nathan Haag following their second straight district championship. “When you’ve got a pitcher like Orban, you’ve got a shot against anybody.”
Atop the mound, Orban piled up 11 wins and 128 strikeouts that helped him to an area-leading 0.82 earned run average. Orban surrendered only 14 runs the entire season.
Offensively, the junior Hawk collected 40 hits, 32 runs and 21 RBI while totaling an average of .367.
Orban was also named to the Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association’s Division 3 All-State list, earning First Team honors as a pitcher. He also earned a First Team nod on the Greater Thumb West’s All-Conference squad.
In earning this year’s Player of the Year honors, Orban has claimed one of the pitching spots on the Advertiser’s First Team. Joining him on top of the hill is Kingston ace Joseph Barrons.
Last season, Barrons received a Second Team nod in the Advertiser’s postseason awards, but after a dominating sophomore season, Barrons shot up to claim one of the two pitching slots on this year’s First Team.
Barrons compiled a 10-6 record for the Cardinals, who finished second in the NCTL’s South division. He also racked up 160 strikeouts, helping him to an ERA of 1.57.
At the dish, Barrons held a batting average of .311 thanks to 28 hits, 18 runs scored and 16 RBI.
The Kingston pitcher was also named to the NCTL’s Baseball Dream Team for this season.
Suiting up behind the plate is Reese senior Paul Heinlein.
Heinlein, who was a Second-Teamer last season, batted .308 for the Rockets this season while hanging 28 hits, 26 RBI and 25 runs scored. He also was named to the Greater Thumb West’s First Team.
Making his second appearance on the All-Advertiser’s First Team is Reese’s Gunnar Bouvy. Bouvy gets the nod at first base for the second year in a row after helping his Rockets to the GTW title. In his final season under Hall-of-Fame coach Dave Elliott, Bouvy also received MHSBCA Second Team All-State Honors in Division 3.
Bouvy paced the Rockets with a .461 batting average, belting out 53 hits and driving in 39 runs for the conference champs. He also scored 27 runs of his own.
Joining Bouvy on the infield are Unionville-Sebewaing’s Sean McBrayer, Frankenmuth’s Logan Gatza and Cass City’s Morgan Erla.
McBrayer was an honorable mention selection by the Advertiser staff last season. But McBrayer’s numbers in his final year with the Patriots not only put him on the Advertiser’s First Team, it also earned him a First Team nod in the Greater Thumb West’s postseason awards.
At the plate, McBrayer hammered out 47 hits, scored 47 runs and drove in 28 more, helping him to a batting average of .416.
Gatza, who earned First Team All-Conference honors in the TVC East, helped the Eagles to the conference greatness with his batting average of .398. He tallied 45 hits and scored 44 runs while racking up 21 RBI on the season.
Red Hawk shortstop Erla makes his second appearance on the Advertiser’s First Team after closing out his Cass City career with a bang.
Not only did Erla rally the Red Hawks to a conference crown and a District championship, he received First Team All-Conference honors after hitting .331 and driving in 21 runs for his team. He totaled those numbers on 40 hits while scoring 32 runs.
Shifting to the outfield, three more members of the Greater Thumb West played their way on to this year’s First Team.
First up is Reese sophomore Cody Peyok.
Peyok held a batting average of .324 for the Rockets while adding 34 hits, 34 runs and 18 RBI. Peyok was also one of three outfielders in the league to receive First Team All-Conference honors.
Vassar may not have had the best season in the area, but Vulcan outfielder Zac Case put up solid numbers for the second season in a row, earning him his second appearance on the All-Advertiser squad.
Case’s numbers of 44 hits, 31 runs scored and 26 RBI earned him second team All-Conference numbers in the GTW. He also put together a whopping .454 batting average for the Vulcans.
Locking up the last spot in this year’s first team outfield is Cass City’s Lukas Schenk.
Schenk hit .359 for the Red Hawks this season while gathering 42 hits, 32 runs scored and 30 RBI. He too was named to the GTW’s Second Team All-Conference list.
Wrapping up this year’s All-Advertiser First Team are “At Large” players Mike Berlin of North Branch and Jordan Stainforth of Frankenmuth.
Berlin, who will suit up for Delta College next spring, earned First Team All-Conference pitching honors in the Tri-Valley East while Stainforth picked up a Second Team slot.
As the Eagles ace, Stainforth held a 2.12 ERA while striking out 78 batters and allowing 21 earned runs on 68 hits. Offensively, Stainforth belted out 27 hits, 22 RBI and scored 18 runs for the TVC East Champs, helping him to a .284 batting average.
Chad Wingert is the Sports Editor of the Advertiser and can be reached at Sports@tcadvertiser.com
2012 All-Advertiser Baseball Team
Team of the Year
Reese Rockets (10-2, Co-GTW Champs)
Cass City Red Hawks (10-2, Co-GTW Champs
Frankenmuth Eagles (Co-Tri-Valley East Champs)
Coach of the Year
Gordon Culver – Frankenmuth Eagles
Player of the Year
Cody Orban – Cass City
P Cody Orban Cass City
P Joe Barrons Kingston
C Paul Heinlein Reese
1B Gunnar Bouvy Reese
IF Sean McBrayer USA
IF Logan Gatza Frankenmuth
IF Morgan Erla Cass City
OF Cody Peyok Reese
OF Zac Case Vassar
OF Lukas Schenk Cass City
AL Jordan Stainforth Frankenmuth
AL Mike Berlin North Branch
P Matt Sahr Reese
P Justin Carello Marlette
C Corey Rich Millington
IF Anthony Kappen Marlette
IF Jacob Purman Reese
IF Watson Moore Cass City
IF Evan Bootz Kingston
OF Jake Beachy USA
OF Zach Heyes Frankenmuth
OF Zac Desimpelare Frankenmuth
AL Hunter Gatza Frankenmuth
AL Jarred Pretzer Caro
Tyler Crane – Akron-Fairgrove; Christian Voelker – Caro; Dakota Hartel – Cass City; PJ Henderson – Kingston; Evan Howard – Marlette; Colin Meacham – Millington; Cody Pyles – Mayville; Garrett Washington, Dylan Bates – North Branch; Travis Menapace, Trevor Volz – Reese; Zach Comer – USA; Nathan Greaves, Michael Pratt – Vassar.