Beal City Sets Tone, USA Enjoys Prime Time

By Tom Markowski
Special for Second Half

June 15, 2018

EAST LANSING – The moment. The venue. It all got to Beal City’s Keegan Haynes as he took the mound to begin his team’s Division 4 Semifinal against Gaylord St. Mary on Saturday.

Haynes retired the first batter, gave up a base hit and proceeded to throw 10 straight balls walking the bases full before going 2-0 on the fifth batter, Alex Pudvan. Aggies coach Steve Pickens came out to talk to his junior pitcher, settle him down and hopefully instill some confidence.

Haynes threw a strike and then got a bouncer to start a double play, pitcher to home to first. Just like that, the Aggies escaped the top of the first inning unscathed – and that changed everything.

Beal City scored twice in the bottom of the inning and tacked on four more runs in the second on the way to defeating St. Mary 7-3 at McLane Stadium to advance to Saturday’s championship game, which will be its first since 2014.

Beal City (22-8), winners of three previous MHSAA baseball titles, will play first-time finalist Unionville-Sebewaing (22-15) at 2:30 p.m. USA scored four in the first inning and went on to defeat St. Joseph Lake Michigan Catholic, 5-1, in the second Semifinal.

“That pretty much defined the game for us,” St. Mary coach Matt Nowicki said. “That first (inning) could have been promising for us.”

Instead of scoring a run or more, and perhaps knocking Haynes out of the game, St. Mary was deflated.

Conversely, Beal City got pumped up. Run-scoring singles by Haynes and catcher Cameron Lynch staked Haynes to a 2-0 lead. When the Aggies added four the next inning, keyed by Kollion Sharrar’s two-run triple, Haynes and Beal City were in command.

“I told (Haynes) to trust his defense,” Pickens said. “With that double play, we were only one pitch away from getting out of the inning.

“Hey, that’s a good team over there. We scored a number of runs today with two outs. We’re getting some timely hitting. We were moving the ball. We didn’t strike out much (four times) today.”

St. Mary (26-6) scored all of its runs in the fifth inning, stringing together five consecutive singles to knock Haynes out of the game. That was good and bad news for the Snowbirds. They finally got on the board, but the run also prompted Pickens to bring in his ace. Senior Brett Upton, 11-2 on the season, fanned the first two batters he faced, then got a pop out to shortstop that stranded two runners.

Upton, who threw 23 pitches in retiring all five batters he faced, will be ready to start on the mound in the title game.

“I had all the confidence in the world in (Haynes),” Upton said. “I wasn’t coming in at that time anyway. We had all the confidence in the world in our offense and that we’d come back and score. That double play was a big momentum swing. That was huge for us. The plan for me today was to come in for an inning or so and get used to the mound. I’m ready.”

Aaron Schafer relieved Upton in the sixth and got the final four outs.

Haynes got credit for the win and he also went 3 for 3 with two RBI.

“The nerves got the best of me in that first inning,” Haynes said. “(Pickens) said to me to throw strikes and calm down. Giving up no runs in the first, that was the best-case scenario. This is the biggest game I’ve ever pitched in.”

For St. Mary, Drew Long went all six innings and pitched well after the first two. Joseph Moeggenberg had two hits and an RBI.

Click for the full box score.

VIDEO: Aaron Schafer scores on a close play at the plate in the fourth inning for Beal City off a single by Ryan Schafer. 


Unionville-Sebewaing 5, St. Joseph Lake Michigan Catholic 1

Brendan Prime went the first 5 1/3 innings for USA to earn the victory. He survived a shaky start, and when his pitch count ran out, Devin Riskey came to his rescue. Riskey, likely Saturday’s starting pitcher, allowed one hit and struck out two in his 1 2/3 innings of work.

Prime allowed three hits and one run in the first inning, and allowed just one hit after.

“I don’t think I was in a groove yet,” Prime said. “After those four runs, when they got that one, I didn’t think about it much.”

Last season USA scored a bunch of runs early in a Division 4 Semifinal but failed to close out Portland St. Patrick. USA led 7-3 after three innings in that one before St. Patrick came back to win, 12-8, and go on to claim the championship.

“I thought back to St. Patrick last year,” USA coach Tyler Bader said. “We talk about getting to teams early. We wanted to stay on top. Stay on top. Stay on top.

“I felt we were going to do well in the tournament in the Districts. We’re not done yet.”

USA batted around in the first inning; the big hit was Braden Carter’s two-run single.

For Lake Michigan Catholic (27-4), starting pitcher Matthew Defay had a triple and scored on Jacob Kissane’s sacrifice fly. Defay gave up all five runs, but only two were earned.

Click for the full box score.

VIDEO: Unionville-Sebewaing's four-run first inning was highlighted by this two-run single by Braden Carter

PHOTOS: (Top) A Beal City runner tries to beat a throw to third base during his team’s Semifinal win over Gaylord St. Mary. (Middle) Unionville-Sebewaing’s Brendan Prime delivers a pitch as the Patriots earned a trip to Saturday’s championship game.

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.