D1 Baseball: Pilots Fly High Again

June 15, 2012

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

BATTLE CREEK – When Warren DeLaSalle began this season 3-14-1, coach Matt Cook had little choice but to simply look ahead to the next practice, the next game.

But he promised the Pilots if they stayed the course, the tough times wouldn’t last forever.

Kevin Carroll and his classmates made sure of it.

DeLaSalle is 17-8 since, and will play for its fourth MHSAA championship Saturday thanks to a 3-2 win over Howell in Friday’s Semifinal.

“No one’s going to stop this team right now. We’re playing better than we ever have,” said Carroll, who gave up five hits and struck out six in getting the pitching win. “Everyone’s here to play. Everyone’s here to win. There’s not one person who doubts it.

“I don’t know what the turning point was or where it was, but I think that definitely it was because of the seniors. The seniors decided we were done losing. We didn’t like it.”

DeLaSalle (20-22-1) faces No. 6 Hudsonville at 12:30 p.m. Saturday for the title. Data isn’t readily available to confirm the Pilots could become the first team to win an MHSAA championship with a losing record.

But it’s fair to believe this run is bordering on unprecedented.

“These guys did a heck of a job putting it together and doing things the right thing,” said Cook, who as a player caught for the Grand Ledge team that fell in the 2001 Division1 Final to Grosse Pointe South. “I kept telling them to play their game. You play baseball the right way, it’s going to turn around.”

The Pilots scored one run apiece in the tops of the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. Howell came back with a run in bottoms of the fifth and sixth. But sophomore second baseman Dominic DiPuma’s home run in the top of the sixth ended up being the game-winner when the Highlanders (30-11) failed to scratch one more across.

“We’ve battled through. That’s been our thing all year; our kids have never given up,” Howell co-coach Jason Ladd said. “We were down 7-1 in the Regional, battled back and won. And I think these kids expected we were going to win this one.”

Senior outfielder Reed Carnagie had two hits and an RBI for the Pilots. Senior Josh Vyletel fell to 15-3 on the mound despite tossing a complete game and striking out four for Howell. Click for a full box score.

Hudsonville 4, Saline 3

Hudsonville earned its first championship game berth with a two-run rally in the fourth inning and shutdown pitching by senior Blake Hibbitts and sophomore Logan Magsig. Saline had just one more hit after opening up a 3-0 lead.

Magsig, playing shortstop before he moved to the mound, also drove in the first run of the go-ahead rally before scoring what became the winning run later in the fourth inning.

Senior first baseman Hunter Prince also had two hits for No. 6 Hudsonville (32-5). Junior second baseman Andrew White, sophomore rightfielder Michael Hendrickson and senior catcher Patrick Price all had a double and an RBI for No. 9 Saline, which finished 30-11. Click for a full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Warren DeLaSalle players celebrate sophomore Dominic DiPuma's home run that proved to be the game winner against Howell. (Middle) Hudsonville senior Hunter Prince connects during his team's Semifinal against Saline.

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

By Tom Spencer
Special for MHSAA.com

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.)