Aces Lead Holland Christian, Linden in D2

June 16, 2016

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

EAST LANSING – Mike Mokma had four innings Thursday morning to scout DeWitt’s lineup as he watched his school’s first MHSAA Semifinal from his post at first base.

As if the Holland Christian ace needed help, he also appears to take exceptional mental notes.

Mokma moved to the mound for the fifth inning, relieving teammate David Williams, and struck out five of nine batters he faced over three innings as the Maroons rallied to claim a 4-3 win over DeWitt and their first championship game berth.

Mokma, a senior who has signed with Michigan State University, improved to 14-0 this season and almost surely will get the call at McLane Stadium to pitch Saturday’s 9 a.m. Final.

“(Coach Jim) Caserta said entering the fifth inning to get ready, to start being ready mentally. Just staying in the game with every pitch, knowing what the hitter’s doing,” said Mokma, who struck out the side upon entering in the fifth inning with a runner on and a run just scored for DeWitt.

“The momentum swung from them to us,” Mokma added, “so it was good.”

Holland Christian (35-6), ranked No. 3 at the end of the regular season, will face No. 5 Linden on Saturday. Caserta, who led Holland West Ottawa to the Division 1 title in 2003 and is in his third season with the Maroons, will have the opportunity to become the first coach in MHSAA history to lead two programs to baseball titles.

His team advanced with a late and opportunistic rally after DeWitt took a 2-0 lead during the bottom of the fourth inning.

Holland Christian came back with two runs in the top of the fifth to tie the score. DeWitt scored its second go-ahead run in the bottom of that inning off Williams, leading to the pitching change.

Holland Christian tied it up again in the top of the sixth as junior Brady Brower singled home senior Josh Sterenberg, who had moved to third base on a passed ball. After Mokma retired DeWitt in order in the bottom of the sixth, Sterenberg had a hand in the winning run as well with a sacrifice fly to drive home junior pinch runner Cam Schut, who had made it to third on an error.

Mokma retired DeWitt’s final three batters in order to end the game.

“We had confidence in David. He’s been throwing great, so we felt coming in he was a little more rested than Mike was,” Caserta said. “(Mokma) could’ve started the game, but Mike will do what we need for the team. He’ll start, he’ll relieve; he’ll do what we need. He’s also carried us at the plate all year.”

Williams, who will play next season at Xavier University, gave up only one earned run over his four innings before moving behind the plate when Mokma came on in relief. DeWitt had only five hits, including two by sophomore catcher Kade Preston.

DeWitt junior Michael Stygles gave up only one earned run throwing all seven innings for the Panthers (30-10-1), who made their second Semifinal appearance in three seasons and graduate only two starters from Thursday’s lineup.

“It’s great to see the kids accomplish what they set out to do, especially when you set your goals this high,” DeWitt coach Al Shankel said. “To get here was great. We wanted a couple more.

“We felt we could get to their starter, and we started hitting the ball pretty hard off him. Credit to them that they went to (Mokma), because I think that would’ve continued.”

Click for the full box score.

Linden 5, Dearborn Divine Child 2

While the rain began to fall harder Thursday, Linden’s spirits soared as it earned its first championship game berth since 2004 with a comeback win over the five-time champion Falcons.

Junior pitcher Lucas Marshall allowed only one earned run and struck out four in tossing a complete game for the Eagles (29-9-1), who increased their postseason run margin to a combined 23-3 over six opponents.

“It just shows that we’re not really the little guy anymore,” Marshall said. “We’re here to play anybody; it doesn’t matter. We’re going to give them our best game.”

Divine Child (27-16) scored the game’s first run in the top of the first inning. But Linden came back with three in the third inning and two in the fourth to put the game away.

Sophomore Nick Koan had a two-run single, the only player on either team to drive in more than one run. Junior Nick Gurney gave up only six hits for Divine Child.

“These guys are just blowing me away,” Linden coach Steve Buerkel said. “Because we lost a strong senior class last year. We had six kids that went on to play college baseball. We returned two starters. … We’ve just got a lot of kids that have a lot of heart and never give up and play hard.”

Click for the full box score

PHOTOS: (Top) Holland Christian's Chris Mokma lays down a bunt during his team's win over DeWitt at McLane Stadium. (Middle) Linden's Lucas Marshall prepares to unload a pitch during Thursday's Division 2 Semifinal win over Divine Child.

Record-Setter Prout Helps Pace Standish-Sterling's 2022 Semifinals Run

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

December 27, 2023

Standish-Sterling’s run to the 2022 Division 3 Semifinals was driven in part by a record-setting offense, including a pair of senior standouts who posted single-season and career highlights.

The Panthers made the team record book in four categories, topped by a record 28 triples over 42 games. They also were added for 371 RBI (fourth all-time), 425 runs (12th) and 414 hits.

Cole Prout tied the MHSAA record for runs scored in one season with 84 and set the record with 27 career triples over three seasons (with 2020 canceled due to COVID-19). His 13 triples in 2022 tied for third on that list, while Chase Raymond’s 10 tied for 11th. Prout also tied for 12th all-time with 182 career runs, while Raymond is eighth on the single-season RBI list with 77 over 42 games in 2022 and earned a career RBI entry with 140.

Prout plays now at Central Michigan, and Raymond is playing at Saginaw Valley State.

See below for more recent additions to the MHSAA baseball record book:

Alden Stefanovski played a major role in Whitmore Lake reaching the 2022 Division 4 Semifinals. The senior also made the record book with 20 doubles over 33 games, the first from his school to earn a listing. He was joined in 2023 in the records by senior Alex Di Dio, who hit nine triples over 29 games and also three home runs in one game April 13 against Adrian Madison. Di Dio also was added for 13 triples and a .460 average for his three-season career, and he’s continuing at Kalamazoo College.

Trenton senior Jason Marshall was nearly unstoppable on the base paths during the 2022 season – and perfect stealing on them. He made the record book with 49 steals in 49 attempts, and also for seven triples over 35 games. He’s playing football at Eastern Michigan.

Trent Hagenbach finished his Saginaw Valley Lutheran career in 2022 tied for 11th on the career triples list with 16 despite not having a 2020 season and hitting all of them over the final two. He also made the records for his seven as a junior and nine as a senior.

Dansville had 10 pitchers contribute to its 388 strikeouts over 38 games during the 2022 season, a total which placed the Aggies second all-time. Tucker Mosley paced the team with 137 strikeouts.

Parchment’s Aaron Jasiak finished his three-season varsity career with seven record book entries, including one of the most impressive winning streaks all-time. He won all 26 pitching starts over his career, which didn’t start until his sophomore season because of the COVID-related cancelation of 2020. His winning streak is the seventh longest in MHSAA history, and his 0.87 ERA ranks 11th. He also made career lists with 163 runs scored, 112 stolen bases and a .460 batting average over 103 games, and his 60 steals over 38 games this spring rank 10th. He’s continuing at Hillsdale College.

Bay City Western finished 42-2 in winning the Division 1 championship in 2013, ranking sixth for most wins in a baseball season. The Warriors also tied the record with 21 shutouts, and their 1.02 ERA ranks fifth all-time.

Grandville Calvin Christian senior Blake Pettijohn struck out 20 batters in a 7-0 win over Belding on May 11, which tied for seventh-most for a seven-inning game. He’s continuing at Hope College.

Grant’s Oakley Obenauf made the single-season stolen bases list in the spring with 45 over 29 games – and was a major contributor as his team made the single-game list multiple times. He had a combined eight steals over two games as Grant swiped 13 and 11 bases during halves of a doubleheader May 11. Obenauf is a senior this school year.

Paw Paw reached the team record book this past spring after being hit by 50 pitches over 30 games. Seven players were hit by at least five pitches, with the team leader totaling 10.

Lansing Eastern earned its first record book entries from a pair of graduating seniors this spring. Dominic Wilson capped his three-season varsity career with 134 stolen bases, which rank 10th. He swiped a career-high 51 as a senior. Teammate Matthew Stevenson made the career batting average list at .472 despite getting only eight at bats as a sophomore because of an injury.

Benzie Central’s Wyatt Noffsinger enjoyed a memorable run to nearly finish off his high school career, throwing consecutive no-hitters against Buckley on May 24 and then Manton on June 3.

Okemos then-junior Caleb Bonemer earned his first record book entry with three home runs June 3 against Grand Ledge as his team clinched a Division 1 District title. Bonemer has committed to sign with Virginia.

After 45 years, Flint Southwestern’s Ruben Luna and Risto Nicevski were added for their accomplishments on the 1978 Class A championship team. Luna made the wins list with a record of 14-0 and the ERA list with a 0.71, and Nicevski made the ERA list with a 0.72. Both went on to play at Michigan State.

East Lansing’s Sam Busch enjoyed a career day on April 12, 2019, when he hit three home runs in consecutive at bats against Ionia. A junior that season, he’s now playing at Michigan State.

Powers North Central’s Adrian Mercier enjoyed a record-worthy junior season this spring. He hit .619 over 32 games, ranking 10th all-time for a single season.

Whitehall senior Cayden Ritchie chased and nearly caught the single-season stolen base record in 2021, when he tied for second with 72 steals over 36 games. He also made the single-game steals list five times, twice with a high of six.  

Aidan Liedeke capped his Brighton Charyl Stockwell career in the spring with some of the most impressive strikeout numbers in state history. Already listed for averaging 15.41 strikeouts per game as a junior in 2022, he averaged 14.92 Ks per game this spring to finish his three-season career at 15 strikeouts per game. He posted a 0.88 ERA in the spring as well to finish with a career 1.52. He’s playing at Kalamazoo College.

Killian Bies finished his Marshall three-season career in the spring among leaders all-time for getting hit by pitches. He already had tied for sixth as a sophomore in 2021 with 22 HBPs, and with 14 more both his junior and senior seasons he finished with 50 to rank fifth on that list. He’s continuing at Cornerstone.

PHOTO Standish-Sterling's Cole Prout (8) readies for a pitch during his team's 2022 Division 3 Semifinal.