EAST LANSING – Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett senior pitcher Joey Randazzo knew the magnitude of the opposing lineup and opposing pitcher.
But he insisted there wasn’t extra pressure on him going into a Division 2 Semifinal against 2022 champion Ada Forest Hills Eastern.
“My goal is never to put up zeroes,” Randazzo said. “My goal is to pound the zone and let my defense work. My job is just to pound the zone.”
Randazzo did better than that.
He pounded the zone and also happened to put up zeroes, tossing a 5-hit shutout to lead Liggett to a 2-0 win over Forest Hills Eastern in what was the definition of a pitchers’ duel.
Liggett, which won the Division 3 title two years ago, will go for its seventh Finals championship at 2:30 p.m. Saturday against Grand Rapids Christian.
The most dominant players all game were Randazzo and Forest Hills Eastern senior Jacob Pallo, who entered the game with a 0.49 ERA and allowed only one hit through his first five innings of work.
After having only one runner get to second base over the first five innings, Liggett finally mounted what turned out to be the deciding rally in the bottom of the sixth.
A single by Randazzo and a double by junior Reggie Sharpe set the table with two outs for senior Oliver Service. On a 3-1 count, Service hit a tapper in front of the plate that was fielded by Pallo, who had to hurry his throw to first to get the speedy Service.
The throw got past the first baseman, allowing Randazzo and Sharpe to score.
In the top of the seventh, Randazzo gave up a leadoff single to Pallo, but a double play and a popout ended the game.
Pallo allowed just three hits and one walk to go along with six strikeouts in what also was a terrific performance.
“He pounds the zone, and he does what I ask him to do,” Liggett head coach Dan Cimini said of Randazzo. “He throws off-speed and moves the ball all over the place. He’s got like 12 different fastballs. He’s just a gamer.”
There will be a new champion in Division 2 with Forest Hills Eastern dethroned, but it was still quite a run for the Hawks over the last two years to win a title and get back to the Semifinal round.
“Just the growth throughout the season to get to this point was tremendous,” Forest Hills Eastern head coach Ian Hearn said. “Hats off to Randazzo. He mixed it up really well and kept us off balance.”
Grand Rapids Christian 4, Flint Powers Catholic 0
It was deja vu for Grand Rapids Christian and senior pitcher Kyle Remington.
Last year, Remington was the winning pitcher in a Division 2 Semifinal, allowing just one run in a complete-game performance.
A year later it was pretty much a duplicate performance, except this time Remington didn’t allow any runs, tossing a 7-hit shutout to lead Grand Rapids Christian past Flint Powers.
Now, the Eagles hope it won’t be deja vu Saturday, when it will try to not repeat the loss in last year’s championship game.
“I understand how difficult the road is getting here,” Grand Rapids Christian head coach Brent Gates said. “We’ve had a goal from day one to get back here and finish the job. We’re one away now.”
The Eagles (35-5) earned another opportunity thanks in large part to Remington, who struck out seven and walked one.
Remington’s biggest moment came in the bottom of the first inning, when he got out of a bases-loaded, two-out jam with a strikeout.
“It was pretty big not to give up any runs in a bases-loaded jam,” Remington said. “I think it was a slider. I can’t really remember, but it was pretty huge.”
Grand Rapids Christian opened the scoring in the top of the second inning, scoring three runs on three hits and an error.
Cam Seth plated one run on a fielder’s choice, and then senior Isaac Hubka hit a single to center that scored two more runs.
In the bottom of the third inning, Powers had runners on first and second with one out, but following a single to center by senior Jack Dawley, a perfect relay to home by Grand Rapids Christian cut down the Powers’ baserunner at the plate.
Powers couldn’t get a 2-out hit, and the game remained 3-0.
In the top of the fourth inning, the Eagles made it 4-0 on an RBI single by junior Parker Seth.
Powers (33-9-2) was making its first appearance in a Semifinal since 1984.
“They played hard all the way to the end,” said Powers’ Tom Dutkowski, who completed his 41st year as head coach. “I don’t feel like we lost so much as we got beat by a team that played a little bit better than us. They had a little more timely hitting and made a couple of plays that were really outstanding. It was a well-played game by a very experienced Grand Rapids Christian team.”
PHOTOS (Top) University Liggett catcher Oliver Service lays out to get to a foul ball Friday at McLane Stadium. (Middle) A Liggett player lets out a yell during his team's win. (Below) Grand Rapids Christian’s Josh Winkle (12) attempts to race home in front of a play. (Photos by John Castine/Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)
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.