ESCANABA - Escanaba Eskymos manager Kirk Schwalbach doesn't know much about his upcoming opponent in the Division II baseball regional at West Branch Ogemaw Heights Saturday, and that's the way he likes it.
Well, he did have this tidbit.
"I know they aren't ranked in the state, which means nothing because we aren't either," Schwalbach quipped Wednesday while discussing his team's noon game against Remus Chippewa Hills (31-6).
At 10 a.m. Whitehall will face the host team with the title game slated for 3 p.m.
Schwalbach's philosophy is not to over-think the opposition. He won't scout the Whitehall-Ogemaw Heights game and isn't all that concerned with anything beyond the semifinal game at this point.
"It's never been my philosophy to worry about who else is playing. You can watch that first game and say 'geez, they look terrible' and then they could come out and kick your butt, or vice versa," he said.
"We know if we play good baseball, we can compete with anyone. Our goal is to go down, play good baseball and hopefully win a regional title."
Chippewa Hills beat Howard Tri-County 5-2 in their district title game. They trailed 2-1 in the fifth inning before ace pitcher Jake Tarbell notched the winning RBI. Earlier this season Tarbell had a 12 strikeout complete game no-hitter against Reed City.
Escanaba has already faced a great pitcher in Damien Proctor of Cheboygan in the district semifinal.
"Proctor pitched the entire game and did pretty well considering (he was coming off an ACL tear)," said Schwalbach. "We executed, made good pitches when we had to and the bounces went our way. We had 20 hits over the weekend and I have to give the kids credit."
The team will be without Tim Leuneberg, who suffered a hand fracture. He will still travel with the team this weekend.
As for pitching, Schwalbach will evaluate it on a day-to-day basis.
"I'm going to sit down and talk about pitching. We're going to shut the arms down for a couple days and get ready for the weekend so everyone will be available. I'll pitch everyone this weekend if we have to. The guys that have pitched have good arms," he said.
In the district tournament, Ben Kleiman, Austin Young, Devin Olsen and Alex DeHaan each made mound appearances with DeHaan and Kleiman getting starting nods.
The Eskymos (21-13) last won a regional title in 2008. Schwalbach said he talked to his team about making a similar statement.
"We've talked about the 2008 team that got to the quarterfinals. I told them 'get to the quarterfinals and they'll start talking about you guys.' That would make it a pretty special season."