Bay City Western Ascends to 1st Final

June 14, 2013

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

BATTLE CREEK – Bay City Western baseball coach Tim McDonald has had enough strong teams over 21 seasons to win 563 games.

Thursday night, he talked with his players about separating themselves from those previous teams by taking the program to its first MHSAA Final.

Riding the skilled left arm of senior Brett Adcock, top-ranked Western earned that opportunity by beating No. 4 Sterling Heights Stevenson 4-2 in their Division 1 Semifinal on Friday at Bailey Park.

The Warriors will face No. 6 Birmingham Brother Rice for the title at 9:30 Saturday morning. 

“We knew we could make it this year,” said Adcock, a three-year varsity player who will throw next season at the University of Michigan. “It’s a great feeling to be able to get (McDonald) there, and to get us there, and to have a chance to win a state championship.”

McDonald – an All-America pitcher at Central Michigan University who was drafted by both the Detroit Tigers and Oakland Athletics – brought teams to the Semifinals twice before. Both suffered six-run losses – 9-3 to Grosse Pointe North in 2006 and 6-0 to Saline in 2009.

Those teams and this one are three of eight he’s coached to at least 30 wins. But this team – made up of players who have been teammates or little league opponents since elementary school – is the first to eclipse the 40-win plateau. Western is 41-2.

Adcock said it’s because of an attitude instilled by his coach that keeps his players driving for more. McDonald credits “good, fundamental baseball” – aggressive base-running and clutch hitting that’s kept the Warriors from playing a bad game all spring.

Having a Division I prospect on the mound also doesn’t hurt. Adcock gave up three hits and struck out six in throwing a complete game and moving his personal record this season to 12-0.

Western scored first, in the top of the fifth inning, when senior rightfielder Brendan Taberski singled, stole second and later crossed the plate on a double steal after junior shortstop Seth Freed drew a throw by taking off for second from first.

Stevenson evened the score in the bottom of the inning, but the Warriors went ahead for good when senior catcher Grant Bridgewater singled in sophomore designated hitter Carson Eby in the sixth inning.

Titans senior Johno Rodriguez also threw well, allowing only four hits before leaving the game with one out in the sixth. Stevenson (28-9) scored its lone run when junior second baseman Dean Emanuele bunted home sophomore shortstop Riley McCauley.

“There’s been something special about this team all year, since day one,” McDonald said. “This team has separated themselves in every possible way, and hopefully we can put a pretty big exclamation mark on an incredible season.”

Birmingham Brother Rice 5, Howell 0

Brother Rice (32-8-1) scored two runs in the bottom of the third inning and wouldn’t need more as junior Matt Ruppenthal threw a four-hit shutout, striking out five without walking a batter.

He also had three hits in four at bats and an RBI for the Warriors, who will play in their first MHSAA Final since winning a title in 2008.

Junior first baseman Randy Righter also was 3-for-4, scoring two runs and driving in one. Sophomore third baseman Alex Malzone drove in two runs.

Senior Tyler Bradner was one of four Highlanders to hit safely,  and he also threw an inning and an out of relief.

Howell, ranked No. 5 entering the postseason, was playing in its second straight Semifinal and finished this spring 33-8. 

Click for full box scores.

PHOTOS: (Top) Bay City Western senior Brett Adcock fires a pitch on the way to a complete-game victory Friday. (Middle) Brother Rice sophomore Alex Malzone hits a drive and finished with two RBI in the Warriors' win over Howell. (Click to see more from Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)

No Runs, No Hits: East Jordan Aces Toss 4 Straight Shutouts, 3 Straight No-Hitters

By Tom Spencer
Special for

May 17, 2024

Playing shortstop this year for East Jordan High School admittedly has become rather boring at times.

Northern Lower PeninsulaThere hasn’t been a whole lot of action at what’s usually the busiest spot in the infield — no matter who is playing it.

Junior Eli Burns knows that better than anyone. He is the Red Devils’ regular shortstop. He also pitches.

Ryder Malpass knows what it’s like to play short this season as well – he’s normally in the spot when Burns is on the mound.

But he also has a feel for how little the shortstop does regularly for the Division 4 No. 16 Red Devils from his usual spot at catcher – receiving behind the plate for a pitching staff averaging almost two strikeouts per inning. 

Just recently, East Jordan put together three straight no-hitters and four straight shutouts.

“It’s good,” Burns said of playing short. “When you have confidence with your pitchers you don’t have to worry about the ball being hit to you that much.”

Ryder Malpass keeps an eye on a runner before making his move toward the plate. Malpass, a junior, started the shoutout string himself with a 4-0 win over Bellaire last week, when he earned the win throwing 5 1/3 innings with seven strikeouts while going 2 for 3 at the plate with a double and RBI. Junior Korbyn Russell closed out the game.

Then Burns started the no-hitter run in the second game that night with Bellaire, a 6-0 Red Devils win. Burns had 10 strikeouts and just a single walk allowed. He also tripled in the game.

This week the no-hitter string continued with 1-0 and 2-0 wins over Boyne City. Russell and senior Lucas Stone threw the Red Devils’ third and fourth no-hitters of the season.

Stone threw a perfect game across six innings. He struck out 12 batters on just 70 pitches and also went 2 for 3 with an RBI against the Ramblers. Russell earned the 1-0 win over Boyne City with 5 1/3 no-hit innings behind 11 strikeouts and with just a lone walk allowed. Stone followed Russell to pick up the save for the Red Devils, now 13-9-1 overall on the season and 6-4 in Lake Michigan Conference play.  

Russell is 6-2 on the season with two saves. Going into Thursday’s game with Charlevoix, he had struck out 92 batters over 42 innings while compiling a 0.86 ERA. Stone is 5-2. Before suffering his second loss of the season to the Rayders, his ERA was 1.17 and he had fanned 38 in 36 innings of work. Burns has racked up 17 strikeouts so far in just over 14 innings.

“It’s pretty special to be a part of something not many teams can do,” Russell said. “We have a special group of pitchers to get the job done.”

Stone credits the Red Devils’ defensive play for the pitching staff’s success.

“Our defense has helped the pitching a lot because they don’t make a lot of errors,” Stone said.  “It makes it a lot easier when you know they are going to make plays behind you.”

Korbyn Russell prepares to unload a pitch.East Jordan came into this week beginning to approach the state records for consecutive shutout innings and games. That ended yesterday in twin bill losses to Division 3 No. 11 Charlevoix. But the Red Devils still can chase the national record of nine no-hit games in a season. (No official record is kept for no-hitters by a Michigan high school team in a season.)

There is also no known record of any East Jordan team racking up three no-hitter wins in a row.

“I don’t think there’s been any stretch with three no-hitters in a row, so that is pretty special,” noted East Jordan coach Adam Grybauskas. “We’re kind of picking up where things were last year and trying to build on last year’s success and make it even better this year.”

The Red Devils captured a Division 4 District championship in 2023 and then a 9-6 Regional Semifinal win over Gaylord St. Mary. The season came to an end in the Regional Final with a 2-0 loss to Painsdale Jeffers.

Russel, Stones and Burns were on the pitching staff last year as East Jordan made that run. The Red Devils will host the District tournament this year as familiar opponents Bellaire, Central Lake and Ellsworth will vie to stop East Jordan’s attempt at repeating as champion. The doubleheader loss to undefeated Charlevoix ended the Red Devils’ hopes of sharing the LMC title with the Rayders.

“I think we’ve played a little bit better competition this year,’ Grybauskas said.  “Our focus this year is taking each doubleheader at a time, and try to get better each week.

“It’s really been game by game and week to week,” he continued. “You’re always looking to do better than last year so obviously that will be something we’ll talk about in the future.”

Tom SpencerTom Spencer is a longtime MHSAA-registered basketball and soccer official, and former softball and baseball official, and he also has coached in the northern Lower Peninsula area. He previously has written for the Saginaw News, Bay County Sports Page and Midland Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Alcona, Oscoda, Crawford, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties.

PHOTOS (Top) East Jordan’s Lucas Stone winds up during a game. (Middle) Ryder Malpass keeps an eye on a runner before making his move toward the plate. (Below) Korbyn Russell prepares to unload a pitch. (Photos courtesy of the East Jordan athletic department.)