West Bloomfield High School junior is the winning pitcher and has a walk-off hit in the Lakers’ first game of the season.
A better script couldn’t have been written.
On opening day, in the first game for new West Bloomfield High School baseball coach Josh Birnberg and the first game played on the Lakers’ new turf field, West Bloomfield beat Lincoln Park 3-2 in extra innings.
Josh Weiss had a starring role in the production.
In his first varsity game, the junior third baseman-pitcher was the winning pitcher, and he had a walk-off hit in the bottom of the eighth inning.
After entering the game in the bottom of the seventh and getting an infield hit, Weiss pitched the top of the eighth and faced just three Lincoln Park batters. He fanned two and one was retired on a groundout.
With the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth, Weiss drove the ball on a couple hops to the fence in left-center, setting off a dog pile celebration with his teammates.
“In shock. I had just gotten into the game in the previous inning after warming up to pitch a couple times,” is how Weiss described his emotions in the immediate aftermath of his game-winning single.
Coach Birnberg, 25, a former West Bloomfield baseball star who was the starting shortstop for the Lakers for four years and captain for two years before graduating in 2014, lost his first season as the West Bloomfield baseball coach last year.
The COVID-19 pandemic wiped out high school spring sports across the state before Birnberg could even run a practice with his team.
“I’d loved to have beaten Lincoln Park 10-0, but what happened was the next best thing,” he said. “What a perfect way to start the season on our new field.”
Perfect is a good way to describe West Bloomfield’s pitching against Lincoln Park in the March 26 game. Three Lakers pitchers including Weiss did not allow a hit.
Weiss’ good friend Matt Fountain came on in the second inning and threw six innings with 10 strikeouts and just one walk.
Lincoln Park scored once in the first and once in the second. West Bloomfield scored twice in the first. The game stayed tied 2-2 until Weiss’ timely hit ended the non-league battle.
Weiss would have been on the West Bloomfield junior varsity baseball team to start last season.
Instead of being angry about losing the season to the pandemic, the right-handed thrower and batter went to work.
“I trained hard and this past winter, I got in some great practices with my new travel baseball team, the Detroit Metro Stars,” said Weiss, who is on the Metro Stars’ 16U Red team.
Weiss, 16, has been playing travel baseball since he was 12.
West Bloomfield lost 3-2 to non-league opponent Utica Ford on March 29 in its next game after beating Lincoln Park. Then the Lakers took a week off from competition for spring break.
“Two one-run games in our first two games. We won one and lost one,” Birnberg said. “That’s baseball. You can’t get too high or too low.”