EAST LANSING – A big opening inning produced two positive results for the Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic Prep baseball team Friday.
Seven early runs helped propel the Irish to an 11-1 six-inning win over Marlette in a Division 4 Semifinal at Michigan State’s McLane Stadium.
The opening surge also provided the opportunity to have starter Sam Shea pitch in Saturday’s 5 p.m. Final against Marine City Cardinal Mooney.
Shea threw only 23 pitches in the first inning, as he was quickly replaced by Alex Blasen.
“It did work out for us,” first-year Hackett coach Smiley Verduzco said. “The whole idea as we talked about before was that first inning. If we get close to 10 (runs) then you have a chance, and without that you don’t have a chance to do that because you have to win the game. There is no tomorrow.
“Sam was pitching fantastic, and then Alex came in and just shut them down. He did a great job.”
Blasen allowed only one run on two hits over the final five innings. He struck out four and walked four.
The fifth-ranked Irish (30-9) tallied those seven early runs on only two hits. They were aided by an error and walks.
After a leadoff triple by Steven Widger, who had a game-high three hits, and a pair of walks, Brenden Collins drove in a pair of runs with a single.
“We like to score a lot of runs, and when we came out and got that seven it was huge for momentum,” Collins said. “We knew it was crucial to get them down early so that we could roll over them and get to the win.”
Said Verduzco: “Did you see the energy (after the triple)? It just pumps the kids up, and let’s go. Then things started to happen. It was pretty fun to watch, and they have earned it. They’ve worked hard all year, and to get a win against a good team, it doesn’t get any better than that.”
Marlette’s starter didn't get out of the first inning after walking four and hitting a batter.
“The first inning was a killer; that was very disappointing,” said Marlette coach Dave Hayden, whose team was making its first appearance in the Semifinals.
“We knew after that first inning that it would be very difficult to come back on them. I thought we settled down after that, but the first inning kind of did us in.”
The Irish added two more runs in the third inning. Widger ripped an RBI single and then scored on a wild pitch.
The Red Raiders scored in the top of the fourth on a sacrifice fly by Aaron Bower. He brought home Cody Hayden, who was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning.
Hackett ended the game in the sixth after a pair of singles and a ground out scored a pair of runs.
The Irish, who are averaging 10 runs a game in the postseason, will attempt to win their first Finals title in their first trip.
“We worked hard to get our school here for the first time, and now everyone is watching you,” Collins said. “It’s kind of cool that we can put our school on the map like that.”
Marine City Cardinal Mooney 12, Maple City Glen Lake 2
Cardinal Mooney continued its impressive postseason run with another lopsided affair.
The Cardinals scored in bunches early en route to a 12-2 five-inning victory over Maple City Glen Lake in the second Division 4 Semifinal.
Mooney (28-6), which will face Hackett in the Final, has outscored its six postseason opponents by a combined 71-8.
“It’s let's get out in front and never let go,” said Cardinals sophomore Blake Lutzky, who went 2-for-3 with four RBI and a run scored. “Never let off the gas.”
Mooney jumped out to a comfortable lead by scoring four runs in the second inning and adding another three in the following inning.
That was just the cushion starting pitcher Thomas Gill needed as he went the distance and scattered five hits while recording five strikeouts.
“When Tommy Gill, our senior pitcher, gets a run or two, it seems like seven runs,” Mooney coach Mike Rice said. “And in these types of games, I want to get seven or eight runs, but when he’s on the mound and throws first-pitch strikes and with our defense, it makes us unstoppable.”
Rice has been pleased with his team’s approach at the plate, as well as its ability to produce timely hitting.
Mooney totaled 12 hits and walked 10 times.
“We’re hitting, and we’re focusing on hitting strikes and not swinging at bad pitches,” Rice said. “The pitcher’s goal is to throw the ball over the plate, and when he does we’re raking it.”
The early deficit was too much for eighth-ranked Glen Lake (27-8) to overcome.
“You can't fall behind against a team like that because they are too good,” Glen Lake coach Kris Herman said. “They are ranked No. 2 in the state for a reason. If you dig yourself in a hole like that, then you have to fight your way out of it.
“I was proud of our fight. I thought they kept grinding, and we just ran into a better team.”
Glen Lake’s fight came in the fifth when they trimmed the deficit to 7-2.
However, in the bottom of the inning, Mooney countered with five runs of its own to end the game.
“We let go a little bit, and we thought we had the game in the bag,” Lutzky said. “But they scored two, and we just put them back on the board. There’s a lot of positive energy on this team, and we’re ready to play all the time.”
Trent Rice, Rocco Comito and Julian Iodice also had two hits each for Mooney.
PHOTOS: (Top) A Hackett Catholic Prep hitter keeps his eyes on a drive during Friday’s Semifinal win. (Middle) Cardinal Mooney’s Julian Iodice eludes a tag to score at McLane Stadium.
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.