By Andy Sneddon
Special for Second Half
EAST LANSING – When Nicholas Holt needed it, he dug deep.
Holt allowed 17 hits, but got the biggest outs when he needed them Saturday as Muskegon Catholic Central topped Centreville in a 10-8 thriller in the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 4 championship game at Michigan State’s McLane Baseball Stadium.
Centreville scored three runs on five hits in the seventh inning and had runners at first and second when Holt, with his 113th pitch of the game, got a game-ending groundout to touch off the Crusaders’ celebration.
Holt had white-knuckled it home, giving MCC – a winner of 10 MHSAA football championships – its first for baseball.
“Knowing that this is a lot bigger than me, that this has never happened at Muskegon Catholic Central, knowing that there’s eight guys around you trying to do the same thing and they’re working their butt off just like I am,” Holt said of his mindset in the seventh inning, when Centreville sent eight men to the plate and had the crowd on its feet. “The way to get through something like this is to not think about yourself, but to think about the guy next to you.
“I probably could have went 100 more pitches because I didn’t feel anything. I didn’t feel any pain. All I felt was just so much adrenaline and I just never stopped. You don’t think about if I’m hurt, you think about the guy at second base, the catcher – they’re working hard and you’ve just got to battle through whatever’s going on with you.”
It was a battle of heavyweights as both teams came into the Final with just one loss. MCC finished 39-1-1; Centreville, playing in the first MHSAA championship baseball game in school history, went 29-2.
Nicholas Holt and his brother and catcher Jacob Holt finished with three hits apiece. Jacob Holt drove in five runs, while Nicholas had two RBI.
Jalen Brown collected four hits, while Coletin Gascho and Michael Kool had three apiece for Centreville.
Jordan Gest, who started for Centreville, took the loss. He went three innings, allowing six runs on five hits, while walking two and striking out three.
Kool, who was the Bulldogs’ workhorse on the mound throughout their run to their first Final, also went three innings. He surrendered four runs on five hits. Just four of MCC’s 10 runs were earned. Centreville committed four errors.
The teams combined for 18 runs, 27 hits and six errors in a highly entertaining game. It all came down to Holt’s left arm in the seventh.
“He wasn’t coming out of the game,” MCC coach Steve Schuitema said. “We didn’t even warm anybody up. We’ve ridden him for four years now.
“I didn’t even want to look. I was getting physically ill over in the dugout. I just kept saying ‘hang on; just hang on.’ Usually when I say hang on, things don’t hang on. … Luckily we did today.”
PHOTOS: (Top) A Muskegon Catholic Central hitter closes in on a pitch during Saturday’s Division 4 Final. (Middle) Centreville catcher Nick Kelley blocks a throw as MCC’s Anthony Woodard slides in.
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.
Bush, 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.