EAST LANSING – It’s not the way the winning team would like to finish a game.
But all the same, Madison Heights Bishop Foley did win, and the Ventures will play for a second consecutive Division 3 title.
Bishop Foley led its Semifinal against Gladstone 6-0, then 7-1 after six innings Friday when the game got tight. The Ventures hit three batters in the seventh, and the Braves brought the tying run to the plate.
But sophomore Braden Mussat got the final out on strikes, and Bishop Foley held on for a 7-5 victory to advance again at McLane Stadium on Michigan State’s campus.
Bishop Foley (19-17-1) will play Detroit Catholic League rival Riverview Gabriel Richard for the title at 5 p.m. Saturday.
Bishop Foley and Richard do not play in the same division of the league, and the teams met once this season, in a league crossover, that Richard won 8-2.
For Bishop Foley, the sixth inning Friday was nearly as tenuous as the seventh, as Gladstone loaded the bases with one out. Starter Ethan Hoffman struck out the next two batters to maintain a six-run cushion.
First-year Bishop Foley coach Tim McEvoy went to the mound in the sixth to reassure Hoffman that everything was all right.
“I told him that this was his game,” McEvoy said. “It was a bit of a jam. He’s been there before.”
Hoffman was wild, yet effective. He walked six but allowed just two hits. His wildness might have contributed to his effectiveness. He said his fastball is consistently in the high 80s, but he had more to offer on this day.
“My curveball was working really well,” he said. “I was trying to keep them off balance. I was wild, but I kept them off balance with my off-speed stuff. They hadn’t really squared up on me all day.”
Bishop Foley scored in each of the first four innings. A three-run third featured a two-run double by Kenneth Germain.
Gladstone (32-5) got on the board in the fifth on a walk, an error and a ground out.
An RBI single by Ben Alderson in the bottom of the sixth inning pushed Bishop Foley’s lead back to six runs, when the game nearly turned upside down.
In the seventh, Carson Shea had a one-out single and Cody Frappier was hit by a pitch. Both moved up on a wild pitch before Mussat retired the next Braves batter. Consecutive hit batsmen forced in a run, and a wild pitch brought in Gladstone’s third. Ben Kelly’s two-run single made it 7-5, and Mussat ended the drama with a strikeout.
“I trust Braden,” McEvoy said. “Even if it got to 7-6, I would trust him.”
Gladstone left nine runners on base, five during the last two innings. The Braves put the first two runners on in the third, but a double play ended that threat.
“We had our opportunities,” Gladstone coach Don Lauscher said. “We had bases loaded a couple of times. They certainly gave us some opportunities. We didn’t get the big hit when we needed it. Their pitcher (Hoffman) was throwing heat and was a little erratic.”
Germain and catcher Mason Minzey each had two RBI for Bishop Foley. Minzey had a double, and his sacrifice fly was hit to the warning track in left center.
Clay Cole took the loss for Gladstone.
Riverview Gabriel Richard 5, Schoolcraft 2
Trailing 2-0, Gabriel Richard (28-3) scored five runs on three hits in the sixth inning to advance.
The Eagles (22-12) took that 2-0 lead in the fifth inning on one hit, four walks and an error. Sophomore Cole Atkinson came on in relief of starter Frank Klamerus with the bases loaded and one out, and walked in the second run. He then got the last out on a ground ball to third.
“It was a close call on the walk, but I knew I had to throw strikes,” said Atkinson, who was called up from the junior varsity in late May. “I knew I had a good defense behind me. And I knew our offense would get going.
“I had to be a bulldog (when I came in). I just had to shut them down.”
Richard had four hits over the first five innings, but no base runner reached third base.
Kevin Tuttle started the Pioneers’ rally with a one-out single. The next two batters reached on errors before Klamerus unloaded with a two-run double that one-hopped off the left-field fence. After a walk, pinch hitter Hayden Flynn hit a two-run single.
“We always have confidence in ourselves,” Richard coach Mike Magier said. I knew we could come back. (Atkinson) came in and did his job.”
After that one walk, Atkinson retired the last seven batters he faced.
“Yeah, we played Bishop Foley before,” Klamerus said. “But this is much bigger than the Catholic League.”
PHOTOS: (Top) Evan Ludwick slides into home to score for Bishop Foley on Friday. (Middle) Gabriel Richard’s Frank Klamerus (23) and Schoolcraft catcher Stephen Schultz watch a Klamerus drive.
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.