Lakeshore, St. Mary's Aces Sharp in Semifinals Show
By Dean Holzwarth
Special for MHSAA.com
June 18, 2021
EAST LANSING – Zach Warren knew he didn’t have many pitches left.
Fortunately for the Stevensville Lakeshore sophomore, he had just enough to finish off a dominating pitching performance.
Warren tossed a no-hitter in Friday’s second Division 2 Semifinal as the Lancers blanked Gladwin 8-0 at Michigan State’s McLane Stadium.
“When my coach came out before my last batter I think I had five pitches left, so I had to finish the batter,” Warren said. “I was just trying to get him out. I just wanted to end the game, finish my game.”
The Lancers (27-11) advanced to Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. Final, where it will face reigning champion Orchard Lake St. Mary’s. Lakeshore won back-to-back Division 2 championships in 2017 and 2018.
The 5-foot-9, 150-pound Warren struck out five and walked three in seven scoreless innings Friday. It was the first no-hitter of his career.
“This feels really good because it advances my team to the championship game, and hopefully we will come out with a win,” Warren said. “I just wanted to get the job done and help my team get the win.”
Lancers’ coach Mark Nate said Warren was approaching his pitch count of 105 after an error and walk put runners on first and second with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Warren got a ground out to shortstop Jack Carlisle to cap the no-hitter.
“That was his last pitch right there; that was his last batter,” Nate said. “If he would’ve gotten on there, I would’ve had to pull him.
“He had his breaking ball going early, he attacked the strike zone early and I’m just proud of him. His work ethic all year and his endurance really helped. He’s quite a ball player, and it's special to have a sophomore as your ace."
Warren, who improved to 9-1 this season, silenced the Gladwin offense with a combination of pitches.
“I think every pitch was working until the fifth inning, and I started to gas a little bit and then I got a little wild,” Warren said. “But I battled and got through it. I was mixing everything up and keeping them off balance so they didn’t know what was coming.”
The Lancers’ bats staked Warren to an early lead. They scored six runs on eight hits over the first three innings to grab the early advantage.
Lakeshore also took advantage of five Gladwin errors.
“I think it really relaxed everybody in the dugout with the early runs,” Nate said. “In games like this you have to break the ice and get that run in, and we did that in the second inning. Once we got those runs, it got a lot looser in the dugout and I think Zach calmed down on the mound knowing that we had a lead.”
Leadoff hitter Trevor Griffiths went 4-for-4 with two runs scored, while Michael Nate had two hits and three RBIs. The Lancers finished with 12 hits.
Gladwin, which was making its first trip to the Semifinals, finished the season with a 25-10-1 record. The Flying G’s had won their first Regional since 2014.
Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 5, New Boston Huron 1
Junior Brock Porter, a Clemson commit, struck out 12 and scattered six hits as top-ranked St. Mary’s defeated New Boston Huron 5-1 in Friday’s first Division 2 Semifinal.
“He gives us a chance to win every time he takes it, and he had the experience from his freshman year,” Eaglets coach Mike Petry said. “It was a different role for him this year as the No. 1, and you have to win that first game to get to (Saturday).
“He took the ball and did exactly what we needed him to. He saved the bullpen, and now we have everybody but him tomorrow.”
Porter didn’t allow a run during his first six innings of work and remained unbeaten on the season at 12-0. His lone run allowed came with two outs in the seventh inning.
“My change-up was big for me, and I could throw it anytime, anywhere,” Porter said. “I was confident in that pitch, as well as my fastball. My slider was a swing-and-miss pitch for me.
“I have the best defense behind me and I have the best bats ahead of me, so I go out there and have fun and enjoy every single minute of it.”
The fourth-ranked Chiefs had base runners in five of the seven innings, but couldn’t manufacture any quality scoring chances against Porter.
“He’s a tough guy to string multiple hits together against if he’s not walking guys, which he doesn't do, and we are making the plays behind him,” Petry said. “You're forcing the other team to string multiple hits together and get some extra-base hits, which he doesn't give up a whole lot of.”
Huron coach Phillip Yancey knew what to expect from the crafty and hard-throwing Porter.
“We knew he was coming, and we geared up for about 100 mph this week,” Yancey said. “I don't believe in pitching machines, but we cranked it up to about 100 and we took batting practice. I think the boys put the ball in play.”
Jasen Oliver gave the Eaglets an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning with an RBI double.
St. Mary’s (42-1) added another run in the third inning when a safety squeeze bunt by Jack Crighton scored Alex Mooney from third base.
The Eaglets broke it open in the sixth inning with three insurance runs. Oliver delivered again with a two-run single as the lead swelled to 4-0. Jake Dresselhouse tacked on an RBI single to make it 5-0.
“The way Huron battled at the end, it was big to get those three runs in the bottom of the sixth,” Petry said. “That’s something we’ve preached in this playoff run. Finding a way to add at least one every inning because things can go awry pretty quickly in a playoff game, so you have to find a way to add, add, add.”
The Chiefs finally got to Porter in the seventh when Gavin Moczydlowski’s third hit of the game, down the right field line, scored Shane Mitchell.
New Boston senior starter Chase Molnar suffered his first loss of the season, but pitched well against a potent line-up before being roughed up in the sixth. He allowed five runs on eight hits and struck out three, but had given up only four hits through the first five innings while keeping it a two-run game to that point.
The Chiefs (26-8) were making their first appearance in the Semifinals.
“The boys were up to the challenge, and this was big for our community.” Yancey said. “We had a great run."
Oliver finished with two hits and three RBI for the Eaglets, while Ryan McKay had two hits and two runs scored.
PHOTOS: (Top) Stevensville Lakeshore’s Zach Warren makes his move toward the plate during his no-hitter Friday at McLane Stadium. (Middle) Ryan McKay (3) slides in to score for Orchard Lake St. Mary’s.
Hart Teammates Reunite After 80 Years as WWII Vets, Great-Grandfathers
By Tom Kendra
Special for MHSAA.com
June 7, 2023
Walter “Stretch” Hansen and Harold Tate were good friends and high school basketball and baseball teammates at Hart High School, graduating in 1943.
No one could have guessed that less than two months after graduation (on July 2, 1943), the two friends would head to Fort Custer in Battle Creek, the first stop on their way overseas to fight for their country in World War II.
No one could have imagined how many twists and turns their lives would take over the next 80 years – from the battlefields in the South Pacific, then back to West Michigan where they both were married with children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and now Harold even has a great-great-grandchild.
And, certainly, no one would have believed that the two young boys from Hart – who forged a friendship through high school sports long before the days of computers, microwave ovens and cell phones – would still be alive at the age of 98 for an emotional reunion last month, on May 22, seeing each other for the first time in 80 years and, to cap it off, the reunion took place in their hometown of Hart.
“It was such a great day,” Hansen said about the meeting, which was set up by Muskegon-area World War II historian Richard Mullally.
“We picked right up, talking about sports and the service and everything else.”
The conversation came easy for the two old friends, who played for Hart during a “golden era” at the school – particularly in basketball, as the Pirates won 11 West Michigan Conference basketball titles between 1940 and 1954.
Perhaps the best team during that time period was Hansen and Tate’s as seniors in 1943. That team lost only once, to rival Scottville (31-25), but more than made up for it with an 80-10 trouncing of the Spartans in the final regular-season game.
Hart then crushed Scottville and Newaygo to win the District championship, only to have Michigan’s prep basketball season stopped abruptly at that point because of World War II.
That 1943 team featured four starters over 6-0, led by the duo of Hansen and Stan Kapulak (both 6-6), Joe Mack (6-2), Lyle Burmeister (6-1) and Stanley Riley (the lone starter under 6-foot at 5-11).
“The newspapers called us ‘The Hart Skyscrapers,’” said Hansen, who will be 99 on Nov. 6. “We were taller than most college teams at that time.”
Hansen and Tate’s friendship continued to blossom on the baseball field, only to have their lives turned upside down shortly after graduation 80 years ago, when all Hart senior boys who had been drafted headed to Battle Creek as a brief staging area on their way to the battlefields of Europe and the South Pacific.
Hansen served in the Army Specialized Training Program and was part of the 52nd Signal Battalion and the 4025th Signal Battalion in the Pacific Theater.
“I had an all-expense paid tour of the South Pacific,” Hansen said with a chuckle. “The Philippines, New Guinea, Okinawa, Hawaii, all over the place.”
Tate did his service in the 24th Infantry Division and the 19th Infantry Regiment, and was stationed in Japan.
During their visit last month, Harold showed off the Japanese Samurai sword and Arisaka rifle which he had sent back from Japan to Hart. The week after their visit, both took part in Memorial Day parades – Hansen in the Lakeside parade in Muskegon and Tate in his 77th Memorial Day service in Hart.
Hansen, who still has a home on a small lake in Holton and lives at a senior care facility in Muskegon, played many years of semi-pro basketball and did some coaching. He worked at GTE and has five children and 10 grandchildren.
“I have been so blessed,” Hansen said, sorting through one of his many scrapbooks. “All five of my kids are great and I have grandkids that are just amazing, everything they are doing. I don’t even know all of their names, but it’s sure been fun watching them.”
Tate returned to Hart after his military service and has been there ever since, at first working as a carpenter with his father and then becoming a rural mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service, retiring 26 years ago at the age of 72. He has lived in the same home for 75 years and has three children, six grandchildren, seven great-grandkids and now one great-great-grandchild.
Tate laments the demise of his beloved American Legion post in Hart, a town with just over 2,000 residents, as the number of members has steadily declined.
One topic that brings a smile to both of their faces is the recent resurgence of the Hart High School athletic program, which drew media attention not too many years ago for all the wrong reasons – notably a football program which went 24 years without a winning record.
That string was snapped with a 6-3 mark and the school’s first earned playoff appearance last fall.
But that was just the start.
This winter, Hart’s boys basketball team finished the regular season 22-0, the girls basketball team made it to the Division 3 Semifinals at the Breslin Center, wrestling qualified for the Team Finals for the fourth-straight year and competitive cheer placed fourth in Division 4. This spring, the Hart girls track & field team won its second-straight Division 3 Finals team title, and the boys placed fourth.
“It’s a great place to call home, a great place to live, always has been,” said Hansen of his hometown, which got its name from its central position in the “heart” of Oceana County.
And who would have imagined that these two high school teammates could still come home again for a reunion at the age of 98?
Tom Kendra worked 23 years at The Muskegon Chronicle, including five as assistant sports editor and the final six as sports editor through 2011. E-mail him at [email protected] with story ideas for Muskegon, Oceana, Mason, Lake, Oceola, Mecosta and Newaygo counties.
PHOTOS (Top) Members of the 1943 Hart High School varsity baseball team gather together, preparing for a team photo. Among those are Harold Gayle Tate (far left) and Walter "Stretch" Hansen, at 6-6 the tallest player in the back row. (Middle) Hansen, left, and Tate reunite for the first time in 80 years on Monday, May 22, 2023, in their hometown of Hart. (Below) Hansen served from 1943 to 1946 as a Sergeant in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Tate served from 1945 to 1946 as a Platoon Sergeant in the Pacific Theater during World War II. (Top photo courtesy of Stretch Hansen. Middle and below photos courtesy of Richard Mullally.)