EAST LANSING – Nearing the end of a season that saw Orchard Lake St. Mary’s score more than 400 runs, it was a first-inning infield grounder that scored the only run the Eaglets would need to record their third-consecutive Division 1 baseball title on Saturday at McLane Stadium.
“In the moment, nobody thought it would be the only run,” said St. Mary’s catcher Ike Irish, who drove in Nolan Schubert, who had singled, moved to second on an error and to third on a failed pickoff attempt. “The ball didn’t bounce our way, and so that one run was big, but there were a lot of other big plays in the game.”
The Eaglets (44-0) became the first team in MHSAA history to win that many games, and extended their second-best-in-state-history winning streak to 66. Their 411 runs scored made them the third team in Michigan this year and 15th on record to surpass 400 in one season.
None of it mattered to Grosse Pointe North lefty Brennan Hill, who gave up only three hits while walking one and striking out nine.
“I knew that if I trusted my stuff and was in the zone and I was competitive, I could do what I did today,” Hill said.
St. Mary’s snuffed out rallies by North in the first and seventh innings by picking off runners in scoring position.
“I don’t think anyone in the park thought that one run in the bottom of the first was going to be the difference,'' Eaglets coach Matt Petry said. “We executed, played good defense, and Ciaran (Caughey) and Jasen (Oliver) did a good job on the mound.”
But the Eagles had to hold their breath in the seventh inning.
Brennan Hill singled and went to second on an infield out. After the second out, Parker O’Neill walked. Drew Hill then hit a hard smash down the first base line.
But first baseman Blake Grimmer played the grounder perfectly, stepping on first base to end the threat and seal the championship for the Eaglets.
North first-year coach Kevin Shubnell, whose team finished 23-8, was emotional when asked how his team will be remembered.
“There’s been a lot of change and turnover and turmoil in this program the last couple of years,” he said. “My one mission was to make this a positive experience for our six seniors. ... I’ll never forget them.”
The Eaglets, meanwhile, were basking in the glow of achieving a goal they set a year ago.
“Last year, we wanted to go 44-0,” Oliver said of the 2021 team. “We were 43-1, which was OK, but we came back this year, hungrier than ever.”
PHOTOS (Top) St. Mary’s Blake Grimmer (13) celebrates the final out of Saturday’s Division 2 Final. (Middle) The Eaglets’ Ciaran Caughey makes his move toward the plate.
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.