Winning and losing streaks for the Leprechauns were commonplace throughout the 2023 season in the GLSCL. Royal Oak finished with a modest record of 17-21, fourth place in the North Division and the same record as last year’s Leprechauns squad. The record could have been improved if Royal Oak had not often allowed losses to snowball. Sixteen of the Leprechauns’ twenty-one losses were during two separate six-game losing streaks and a four-game losing streak.
After starting 4-7, Royal Oak rattled off five straight victories to improve to 9-7, which was the high point of the year.
The low point shortly followed, as the Leprechauns went 3-13 to plummet to 12-20 with their two six-game losing streaks and a stretch where they won three out of four games sandwiched between.
Following that, Royal Oak won five of its final six games to win series against the Sandusky Ice Haulers and the rival Jet Box to cap off a 17-21 record.
Despite an identical record from the previous year, there were some major differences between each team. The main difference is that the hitting improved, but the pitching seemed to have taken a step back. The 2023 team had a higher batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage than the 2022 squad. Another glaring statistic is that this year’s team hit sixteen home runs, which was tied for fourth in the league. Last year, the Leprechauns were last in the league with two. The team in second-to-last had eight.
Royal Oak’s roster included four hitters that had multiple home runs. Collin Overholt (Ashland) and Caden Duryea (Northwood) led the way with four apiece. AJ Kostic (Central Michigan) was close behind with three and Peter Stewart (Lake Land) had two of his own.
Though they never hit one out, Josh Getz (Northwood) and John Orberson (Murray State) were also some of the Leprechauns’ most consistent hitters. Among the players that played in at least half of Royal Oak’s games, Orberson had the highest on-base percentage of anyone, at .420, partially due to drawing walks more than anyone besides Collin Overholt. Getz was in second with an OBP of .396.
Defensively, the pitching staff struggled a little bit more this year than the year prior. The 2023 squad had a combined ERA of 5.53. In comparison, last year’s team had an ERA of 4.29. Opposing teams were able to get forty-three more runs across against the Leprechauns this year than the year prior. Those problems cannot necessarily be attributed to poor fielding as well, as only five more unearned runs were gifted to other teams by Leprechauns errors this year.
Despite this, there were still definitely some reliable pitchers for Royal Oak. David Thurman (Wayne State) had the best ERA on the team among pitchers that threw at least ten innings, as he had a 2.63 ERA in eleven appearances out of the bullpen. Another reliever, Brandon Mann (Michigan), also had a very solid 3.31 ERA with a K/9 ratio of just under eleven.
Overall, it was a very interesting year of baseball for the Leprechauns. The talent level across the GLSCL has improved, which can be seen while watching the games, with the Leprechauns having players from several Division I programs like Michigan, Michigan State, USC, UAB, Central Michigan, Western Michigan, Murray State, UC Riverside, and others. Though one might imagine that the players from the bigger colleges would dominate the league much more than players, that has not always been the case. Josh Getz, Caden Duryea, and Tyler Sager, all heavy contributors for Royal Oak, are all from Division II Northwood. David Thurman, possibly the Leprechauns’ best piece out of the bullpen, plays baseball at Division II Wayne State. Collin Overholt plays for Division II Ashland. TJ Yakimisky hit both of the Leprechauns’ walk-off hits this year; he plays for Division II Illinois-Springfield.
As the offseason begins, Royal Oak will look to come back stronger in its quest for a GLSCL championship. A search for the best talent Royal Oak can get will be conducted to ensure that Leprechauns receive the best team they can get for the 2024 season, as both the Leprechauns and the GLSCL look to elevate themselves.