Brother Rice Finals Hero Aiming to Ace Family Life, Financial World

By Keith Dunlap
Special for

July 6, 2023

Matt Conway said the 2008 Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice baseball team he played on wasn’t necessarily the most talented group to ever come through the state.

Made in Michigan is powered by Michigan Army National Guard.But that squad was still plenty good, and there was one thing that became evident during the playoff run the Warriors went on 15 years ago.

“Nobody really stood a chance,” Conway said.

It was certainly hard to argue.

During the MHSAA Division 1 Tournament, Brother Rice outscored its opponents by a combined score of 74-8 and never trailed during its seven playoff games.

The run culminated with an 8-0 win over Saline in the Division 1 championship game at Battle Creek’s C.O. Brown Stadium, led by a four-hit shutout from Conway on the mound. The title was Brother Rice’s third in school history and remains its most recent.

“The team camaraderie we had and the willingness we had to play for each other really showed in the way we dominated the playoffs,” said Conway, who now works for Center Rock Capital Partners, a private equity industrial firm based in Bloomfield Hills.

While the Warriors that year had camaraderie and chemistry, one thing they also had that other teams didn’t was Conway, who at the time was arguably the best prep player in the state.

Not only was the 6-foot-7 Conway an ace pitcher, he was also a fearsome power hitter at or near the top of the lineup.

The shutout in the championship game as a junior was only one of his achievements in high school, given he was also named first-team all-state in 2008 and 2009.

During his junior year, Conway batted .429 at the plate and was 11-1 on the mound.

Conway makes his move toward the plate during that 2008 championship game. Conway was an all-around force again for Brother Rice in 2009, but the Warriors fell short in their bid to repeat, losing in a Quarterfinal to Saline.

After graduating from Brother Rice in 2009, Conway went on to play baseball at Wake Forest, and his college career got off to a terrific start. He was named a freshman All-American at Wake Forest after leading the Demon Deacons with a .382 batting average during his first college season.

He went off during the summer after his sophomore year to play in the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League in Massachusetts, arguably the nation’s premier summer league for college prospects and followed intensely by pro scouts.

Unfortunately, a knee injury made his time there short-lived.

“Unfortunately in the first game, I got hurt pretty bad,” Conway said. “I had to leave the Cape, and things weren’t really the same ever since.”

Conway eventually finished a nice college career at Wake Forest, but had to battle through more knee injuries.

He ultimately decided a professional baseball career wasn’t meant to be.

“At that point, I realized this is maybe not the path I was supposed to take,” Conway said. “I played through my senior year, and then took the uniform off and put on a suit. It was a little different, but I do believe things happen for a reason.”

Indeed, Conway has no complaints. He’s happily married to his wife Stephanie and has two children, an 18-month-old daughter and an infant son about a month old.

As an alum of Wake Forest, Conway was obviously thrilled to see the Demon Deacons advance to the College World Series semifinals and earn the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament this season.

“I had a ticket booked to Omaha to go to the championship series if they made it,” he said.

Conway has worked for Center Rock Capital Partners since 2018 and has always had plenty of knowledge in the financial and business sectors, given his father, Van, is a renowned financial consultant who owns a firm in Birmingham.

While his baseball playing days have been over for a while, Matt Conway said the lessons he learned playing in high school for Brother Rice head coach Bob Riker, and at Wake Forest for head coach Tom Walter, prepared him well for his current career and will always be with him.

“Time management, prioritizing and making sure you are on top of what you need to get done,” Conway said. “It taught me more than I could ever think of.”

Made in Michigan is powered by Michigan Army National Guard.

2023 Made In Michigan

July 5: Lapeer West 4-Time Finals Winner Set to Build Champions at Oklahoma - Read

PHOTOS (Top) Brother Rice’s Matt Conway walks to the plate to accept his medal after the Warriors' Division 1 title-clinching win in 2008, and these days is building a family with wife Stephanie. (Middle) Conway makes his move toward the plate during that 2008 championship game. (Baseball photos from MHSAA archives; family photo courtesy of the Conway family.)

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.