Hartland Goes 10 to Land 1st Title

June 13, 2015

By Andy Sneddon
Special for Second Half

EAST LANSING – Brett Oliver delivered when it mattered the most.

John Baker did it all day long.

Baker struck out 11 and walked three in going the distance Saturday as Hartland won its first Michigan High School Athletic Association baseball championship with an epic 2-1, 10-inning win over Portage Northern in the Division I title game at Michigan State University’s McLane Baseball Stadium.

“Getting over the quarterfinal hump was huge for our program because we’ve been getting there, we’ve been pretty successful,” said Hartland coach Brian Morrison, whose team had made it as far as the MHSAA Quarterfinals – but never beyond – in four of the last seven years. “We kept knocking on the door and finally broke through. You get here and anything can happen.”

The Eagles (28-16-1) knocked on the door all game long against Portage Northern, stranding 16 runners and outhitting the Huskies, 10-5. Hartland went down in order just once in the game.

Hartland used a walk, a bunt and a Baker double to seize a 1-0 lead in the first inning, but didn’t score again until the 10th.

Richard Bortle and Thomas Rivet hit back-to-back singles to open the frame, then Oliver, the No. 9 hitter, drilled a fly ball over the head of the right fielder to easily score Bortle from third with the winning run.

“We had plenty of chances throughout the whole game,” said Oliver, who was 0 for 3 with two strikeouts and a walk to that point. “I myself left runners on base. But we just kept battling as a team, we stayed together, we didn’t get down on each other.

“My thought was just get my pitch, swing at my pitch, swing hard, make sure it gets out of the infield. That was probably the best pitch I saw all day, and I got ahold of it. I didn’t even know where it went. I just put my head down and sprinted.”

Baker allowed five hits and was dominant early, outlasting Portage Northern starter Tommy Henry in a classic pitchers duel between two juniors.

Had the game gone to the 11th inning, Baker would have had to leave the mound because of the 30-out pitching limit.

“Unbelievable,” Morrison said. “He’s done that all year. I think that was his fifth win of this postseason. He’s tough, and his pitch count wasn’t outrageous. He’s not going to let you take him out.”

Henry, a left-hander, allowed seven hits, walked six and struck out eight over eight innings, continually wiggling out of trouble. Reliever Max Schuemann took over in the ninth and worked out of a two-on, none-out jam. He wouldn’t be able to repeat the feat in the 10th.

“(Henry) got in trouble several times and kept battling out of it, and that’s what he can do,” said Portage Northern coach Chris Andrews. “He pitched his heart out. It was two first-team all-state Dream Team pitchers going at it. Shouldn’t be any other way.”

Portage Northern (30-8-1) also was making its first appearance in an MHSAA baseball championship game. The Huskies tied the game 1-1 on Brady Young’s sixth-inning RBI single. Ryan Beadle led Portage Northern with two hits.

“It’s tough; you feel for the seniors,” Andrews said. “But this is the best team Portage Northern’s ever had and I’m proud of that. These guys played their hearts out. Probably one of the best high school baseball finals of all-time. Just a great game, great group of kids.”

Click for the box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Hartland players celebrate a 10-inning win and their first MHSAA baseball championship. (Middle) Max Cadman (13) slides into third base ahead of a throw as Portage Northern’s Thomas Scheffert prepares to tag.

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.)