Ace Paces Richard's Championship Triumph

June 16, 2018

By Jason Schmitt
Special for Second Half

EAST LANSING – He’d seen a dropped third strike 100 times before Saturday’s championship game.

Excuse Riverview Gabriel Richard’s Matthew Silka for getting caught up in the moment.

With two outs in the seventh inning, the junior got a swinging third strike to seemingly clinch his team’s first MHSAA baseball title. But his biting breaking ball ended up in the dirt – so he looked at the catcher, then glanced at first. Finally, he turned and looked at his second baseman, who was charging toward him to celebrate.

At that moment, he figured it out. His team had just won the Division 3 championship, defeating reigning champ Madison Heights Bishop Foley, 3-0.

“I was so confused,” said Silka, smiling with a championship medal hanging from his neck. “That’s not an ideal way to end the game, because I’m not sure if we won or not. I was looking at the first base ump to see if he was going to call him out or not. We were all waiting for someone to say something.”

The game-ending strikeout was his seventh of the game, one he dominated from start to finish. Silka, a junior, allowed just one hit, that coming in the seventh inning. Prior to that single, he was on his way to becoming the first pitcher to toss a complete-game no hitter in MHSAA Finals history.

Instead, he became just the fifth pitcher in Finals history to allow just one hit in a complete game.

“I was trying to keep (the ball) to the corners, and not make too many mistakes and leave the ball over the heart of the plate,” Silka said. “I was just trying to throw strikes and help my teammates out.”

His teammates helped him out early on, scoring a run in the second, third and fourth innings to stake him to a 3-0 advantage.

The Pioneers scored their first run unconventionally. Leadoff batter Hayden Burke reached on a dropped third strike. The junior then moved over to second base on a walk to fellow junior Frank Klamerus. Those two advanced to second and third thanks to a pair of wild pitches. Burke then scored on a fielder’s choice by junior Hayden Flynn to make it 1-0.

In the third inning, Richard pieced together three singles – the last by Flynn plated junior Niko Maloney. In the fourth inning, the Pioneers used a walk, sacrifice bunt and an RBI-single by sophomore David Zubor to cap off their scoring, giving Silka more than he needed to get the job done.

“I think momentum is one of the biggest parts of the game,” Silka said. “That was really huge for us to get out in front. I knew once we had a lead and we got rolling, it was going to be a lot easier to pitch.”

Richard coach Mike Magier said Silka’s success was due to his ability to keep the Ventures off balance.

“He went through the lineup one time and he gained a little confidence, and he could use his secondary pitches a little bit more,” Magier said. “(Silka) has been a workhorse for us. He’s really been a competitor.

“He’s been our ace. He’s pitched against all our tough teams.”

Bishop Foley (19-18-1) could muster just one hit – from sophomore Liam Pollock to lead off the seventh inning. 

“That’s baseball,” Foley coach Tim McEvoy said. “We ran into a stud pitcher who threw strikes. He kept us off balance, and we weren’t able to get out in front of his fastball. That was the main issue. 

“I want to congratulate their coaching staff. They have a great staff and a great pitcher.”

For Richard (29-3), this could be just a taste of what’s to come next year. There are no seniors on the roster, so everyone should be back for another title run in 2019.

“I guess it’s kind of unusual,” said Magier, talking about a lack of seniors on his roster. “That (junior) class, as soon as they came in in ninth grade, we had three or four guys come up on varsity and we knew we had a pretty good class there. 

“It takes a lot to win a state championship, so we won’t take it for granted. We’re going to enjoy this one, and hopefully next year we can do the same.”

Click for the full box score.

VIDEO: Gabriel Richard pitcher Matthew Silka finishes his seventh strikeout, which wrapped up the 3-0 win over the Ventures.

PHOTOS: (Top) Gabriel Richard ace Matthew Silka makes his move toward the plate Saturday. (Middle) A Pioneers runner tries to slide in under the tag of Bishop Foley catcher Mason Minzey.

Longtime Chelsea High School Administrator, Coach Bush to Join MHSAA Staff as Assistant Director

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

December 21, 2022

Brad Bush, a highly-respected educator, administrator and coach over the last three decades, has been selected to serve in the position of assistant director for the Michigan High School Athletic Association, beginning Jan. 17.

Brad BushBush, 52, taught and coached at East Kentwood High School for four years before beginning a tenure at Chelsea High School in 1997 that has included teaching, then serving as athletic director and later also assistant principal and leading the football program as varsity coach from 1997-2002 and again from 2004-18.

He also has served as a statewide delegate on the MHSAA Representative Council during the last year and provided leadership in multiple roles, including president, for the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA) since 2005.

Bush will serve as the MHSAA’s lead administrator for baseball and also among lead administrators for the officials program, which includes more than 8,000 registered officials in all sports. Bush also will be assigned additional duties in other sports based on his vast experiences. He was selected from a pool of 34 applicants.

“I’m incredibly excited to have Brad join our team,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said. "He’s been an outstanding athletic director and coach who is highly-respected by those who know him.”

As Chelsea athletic director, Bush annually has supervised a staff of 110 coaches across 31 programs, with nearly 70 percent of the high school’s 800 students participating in athletics. As a teacher and assistant principal, he has served on Chelsea’s School Improvement Team and on multiple committees that provided instructional leadership including in the development of the district’s new trimester schedule. In his roles with the MHSFCA, Bush helped direct an organization with more than 2,200 members and also served as the association’s treasurer and liaison to the MHSAA.

Bush is perhaps best known, however, for his coaching success. Over 22 seasons, he led Chelsea’s varsity football team to a 169-60 record, 13 league championships, 18 playoff appearances, seven District titles and a Division 3 runner-up finish in 2015. During his break in tenure as Chelsea coach, Bush served as an assistant football coach and recruiting coordinator for Eastern Michigan University during the 2003-04 school year, and he has served as an assistant coach at Albion College the last four seasons contributing to the team’s two league titles and appearance in the 2021 NCAA Division III Playoffs.

“I feel like joining the team at the MHSAA is an opportunity I couldn’t pass up,” Bush said. “The 26 years I spent at Chelsea were some of the best times of my life. It’s a professional transition that in the back of my mind, if this opportunity came, was something I needed to do.

“Over time, I’ve grown to care about the bigger picture of athletics and appreciate the role of the MHSAA in protecting high school athletics in Michigan.”

Bush is a 1988 graduate of Ypsilanti High School. He studied and played quarterback at Cornell University before returning and graduating from EMU after majoring in history and minoring in social studies. He earned his physical education endorsement from EMU in 2000 and his master’s in physical education and sports management from EMU in 2002. He has earned continuing education credits in sports management from Drake University and completed the Path to Leadership program from the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals (MASSP). 

Bush was inducted into MHSFCA Hall of Fame and Ypsilanti High School Hall of Fame both in 2019. He and his wife Laura have three adult children, two daughters and a son.

PHOTO Chelsea coach Brad Bush directs his team during the 2015 Division 3 Final at Ford Field.