Homer, Liggett Set Up Saturday Meeting

By Paul Costanzo
Special for MHSAA.com

June 14, 2019

EAST LANSING – Jacob Wilson just wanted to start jumping up and down Friday after his game-winning single sent Homer to the MHSAA Division 3 Baseball Final.

But before he could fully celebrate, he had to make it to first base, something he admitted he had to be reminded to do.

“The coach told me to (run to first),” Wilson said. 

He made it without issue and was mobbed by his teammates as Homer defeated Pewamo-Westphalia 2-1 in nine innings at McLane Baseball Stadium on the campus of Michigan State University. The Trojans advanced to Saturday’s Final against Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett, which defeated Gladstone 5-0 in the other Semifinal.

The Final will be the first for Homer since 2006, when it won the Division 4 title.

“What an unbelievable setting, and to have a 2-1 walkoff in the bottom of the ninth at Michigan State, that’s stuff you dream of at the beginning of the season,” Homer coach Scott Salow said. “It was an unbelievable ballgame. Two great teams.”

Wilson’s hit down the third-base line ended a game dominated by pitching and defense, as he and Pewamo-Westphalia starter Brendan Thelen kept hitters off balance for the majority.   

In the ninth inning, however, Homer was able to load the bases with no outs, and Wilson drove in Zach Butters for the walk-off win.   

“I was up to bat and I was looking at my teammates while they were on base, and they were just looking at me smiling, giving me a thumbs up,” Wilson said. “I just had faith in myself that I could get it down.”

Butters’ run was the first since the second inning, and ended one of the few Homer threats. Thelen threw 7 2/3 innings prior to reaching his pitch-count maximum, striking out five and allowing three walks, two hits and one run. He allowed just one Homer runner to get to third base.

“Their coach, Scott Salow, has a great program, and he said that’s the best pitcher they’ve seen all year,” Pewamo-Westphalia coach Mark Rademacher said. “They only got two hits on him, and he said that’s the best pitcher they’ve seen. Brendan rose up to the occasion. He kept us in the game when we were leaving guys stranded on base, and our defense was helping him out. It was just a great performance on his part.”

Wilson put together a gem of his own, allowing six hits and two walks while striking out five in 6 2/3 innings, also leaving the game because of his pitch count. He pitched out of a jam in the sixth inning, as Pewamo-Westphalia had a runner at third with one out. Wilson was able to get a strikeout and a popout to end the threat.

“Just survive,” Salow said of Wilson. “I don’t know how many chances they had with leadoff guys on. It seemed like we were fighting fires most of the game, especially in the middle innings.”

Pewamo-Westphalia opened the scoring in the second inning, as Aaron Bearss drove in Ethan Thelen with a single.   

Homer responded in the bottom of the second, as Kyle Compton stole home on a designed play. Wilson, who was on first, purposefully fell on a steal attempt, forcing a throw to first and allowing Compton to head home.   

“We spend a lot of time on our first-and-third offense, trying to put balls in play without the aid of a bat,” Salow said. “It’s a play that we practice all the time, and it worked out almost to perfection.”

Compton finished with two hits and two walks for Homer (32-3). Butters picked up the win in relief, striking out one and allowing two hits in 2 1/3 innings.

Tanner Wirth and Ethan Thelen each had two hits for the Pirates (31-3).

Click for the full box score.

Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett 5, Gladstone 0

Alec Azar had all the run support he needed before he stepped on the mound.

The Liggett senior pitcher threw his first pitch with a 2-0 lead, which was more than enough as he put together a dominant outing to lead the Knights into the Division 3 Final, their first since 2016.

“That’s what I like about being away,” Azar said. “You get ahead, and then I can come out on the mound and get really comfortable and throw my game.”

Azar carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning and finished the game with 12 strikeouts and two hits allowed.

“He was lights out,” Liggett coach Dan Cimini said. “I told him this was going to be his last start as a senior at Liggett and I need his best, and he gave us his best. He almost had a no-hitter, threw the ball really well, had his best stuff, great slider, fastball. He just did everything he could for our team today to get us a W.”  

Logan King hit a two-run home run with two outs in the top of the first inning, which Gladstone coach Kelly Shea said stunned his team. The Braves remained stunned as Azar struck out the first four batters he faced.

“Our pitcher got them with two ground balls to start the first inning, and I thought we’re going to get out of the inning,” Shea said. “Then they had a kind of so-so base hit, then he hangs that next pitch and they pounded it over the fence. It kind of took the wind out of our sails, and we never got back.”

Azar added two hits at the plate, while Nick Post had two hits, including an RBI double for the Knights. King finished with three RBI on the day.

Carson Shea, who started on the mound for Gladstone, broke up Azar’s no-hitter with two outs in the sixth inning. Jared Crow added a double for the Braves in the seventh. 

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Homer’s Zach Butters heads home for the game-winning run in Friday’s first Semifinal against Pewamo-Westphalia. (Middle) Liggett's Alec Azar makes his move toward the plate.

Longtime Chelsea High School Administrator, Coach Bush to Join MHSAA Staff as Assistant Director

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

December 21, 2022

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.

Brad BushBush, 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.