Beal City Primed to Make History Again

June 14, 2013

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

BATTLE CREEK – About three weeks into this season, Beal City coach Brad Antcliff began noticing strong similarities between this team and those that won MHSAA titles in 2009 and 2010.

It started with the speedy outfield of senior Joseph Rau, junior Carson Salisbury and freshman Chase Rollin – a pair of running backs and a tight end during football season – who range far and wide to take away what would be hits against many other defenses.

Of course, there are differences as well – but not in focus. These Aggies fully understand the historical significance of the opportunity at hand and how they can become part of the program's recent run of success.

Beal City earned another championship opportunity with a 15-0 Semifinal win over Maple City Glen Lake on Friday. 

“It’s funny, because every spring our goal is to win the Highland (Conference) and make a long tournament run. And the kids understand that,” Antcliff said. “It’s great winning 35 games. Butt with our schedule, we want to play the Grosse Pointes, we want to play bigger schools. If we lose 10-12 games, we’re fine. It gets us ready for this.”

Beal City has lost only twice this season, against 35 wins. But consider the No. 3 Aggies ready for No. 1 University Liggett, their opponent in Saturday’s 6:30 p.m. Final.

They sure appeared primed after the fifth inning Friday. Beal City, up 1-0, put up five more runs and then added nine in the sixth inning to end the game.

Senior Ryan Marshall gave up only two hits and struck out eight for the Aggies. He also scored two runs, drove in a third and had one of the team’s seven stolen bases.

Beal City had 10 hits, but only junior Ryan Tilmann had more than one; he finished 2-for-3 with two runs scored, three RBI and two stolen bases.

Glen Lake, making its first Semifinal appearance since 2001, got three innings of one-run pitching and one of its two hits from sophomore Austin Odziana. The Lakers finished 28-8.

Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett 1, New Lothrop 0

The top-ranked Knights didn’t score the game’s lone run until the sixth inning. But pitcher Connor Fannon needed only that one to get University Liggett back to the Final for the third straight season.

Fannon, a senior, gave up only two hits, didn’t walk a batter and struck out eight.

He out-dueled also-solid Mitch Perizzolo, who gave up only five hits, didn’t walk a batter and stuck out four for New Lothrop. Perizzolo also had one of the Hornets’ two hits.

The Knights scored that lone run when shortstop Nicholas Azar hit a sacrifice fly to score centerfielder Mark Evan Auk from third base. Auk had reached on a bunt single. Catcher Nathan Gaggin was the only player, from either team, with more than a hit; he finished 2-for-3.

New Lothrop, making its first Semifinal appearance since 1998, finished 25-6. University Liggett improved to 30-4.

Click for full box scores.

PHOTOS: (Top) Beal City junior Ryan Tilmann gets in safe under the throw in the Aggies' win over Maple City Glen Lake. (Middle) A University Liggett hitter drives a pitch in the Knights' Semifinal win over New Lothrop. (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.)