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Flint Powers Catholic is in the state finals of the baseball championship for the first time in 44 years after defeating Trenton

EAST LANSING – Powers Catholic is playing in the state baseball championship game for the first time in 44 years.

The Chargers beat Trenton 4-3 in eight innings on Friday at Michigan State University's McLane Stadium and will play in the Division 2 championship game against Spring Lake or Richland Gull Lake.

Gavin Darling hit the game-winning hit with the bases loaded and one out. Trenton intentionally walked Connor Kelly to set up a possible force play, and Darling hit a long fly ball over the left fielder's head to bring home Eli Sturgess from third base.

“I went to Connor and told him I loved him,” Darlin said. “It was either him or me. That's what it came down to. Bases loaded. I didn't mean to take it personally. I see it as a sign of respect.”

Powers, ranked No. 1 for virtually the entire season, is in the championship game for the first time since the Chargers won the Class B state title in 1980.

Tom Dutkowski was an assistant coach for Powers in his 42nd year as head coach.

What does it mean for Dutkowski to finally be back in the championship game after leading Powers to the semifinals a year ago?

“I don't know because it was so long ago,” he said, laughing. “I don't know what it means. We had T-shirts that said 'Return and Finish.' You have to give your guys a lot of credit. We were No. 1 in the preseason, then fell out for a couple of weeks and finished No. 1.”

“We won the (Saginaw) Valley, the Flint tournament. What they've done is block that stuff out. They just want to be good. It's all about them. That's good for Powers baseball.

“They are wonderful kids. Hard workers.”

Powers took an early 3-0 lead when Isaac Sturgess hit the first pitch of the game down the right field line and scored on Darling's sacrifice fly.

Powers scored two more runs in the third inning when Sturgess was hit by a pitch and Grant Garman hit an infield single, scoring both.

Garman, the Chargers' left-hander, was brilliant in the first four innings, not letting a ball come out of the infield and striking out the first 12 batters he faced.

The score remained 3-0 until the fifth inning, when Trenton finally reached Garman. The Trojans had five hits in the fifth inning, the biggest hit being Carson Boikes' two-run single.

Sturgess replaced Garman on the mound in the sixth inning and did not allow a single hit while allowing one walk and making four strikeouts.

“I've seen him do this before,” Dutkowski said. “He's a great athlete and team player.”

Garman allowed six hits, one walk and ten strikeouts. He led the Chargers with three hits.

Joel Mator was the loser after replacing Kidd in the fifth inning. He allowed three hits, walked five and struck out five times.

Kidd had two hits for Trenton.

Trenton finished with a record of 30-11-1, while Powers improved his record to 36-6 before Saturday's championship game at 5 p.m.

Dutkowski said Fischer Hendershot will start on the mound for the Chargers.

“This has been a long time coming,” Hendershot said. “Ever since I grew up watching Powers play, I've always wanted to be here. I'm confident we have a chance to win it.”

“You can't let yourself be pressured. I've let myself be pressured before. Just treat it like any other game, let your training take over and trust yourself.”

Click here to view the match report.

Anna Harden

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