Liggett Outlasts Beal City in D4 Classic

June 15, 2013

By Andy Sneddon
Special to Second Half

BATTLE CREEK – An absolute gem of a high school baseball game, and a shame that one team had to come out on the losing end.

That’s sports, and that’s baseball.

Cole Zingas scored on a throwing error in the top of the eighth inning Saturday night, then Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett got a pair of standout defensive plays in the bottom of the inning while holding on to beat Beal City, 3-2, in an oh-so-memorable Division 4 championship game at C.O. Brown Stadium.

“If that’s not the greatest championship game at any level in a long time, I’d like to see one better,” said University Liggett coach Dan Cimini. “The back and forth on both sides, all of our kids fought, scratched and played their hearts out.

“That was the best baseball game I’ve ever been involved in. And I’m not just talking about the play, I’m talking about the hustle and the drive and the will to win and the will not to lose. It was unbelievable.”

It was University Liggett’s second MHSAA crown in three years. The Knights (31-4) were runners-up last season.

Beal City (35-3) was back in the title game after winning championships in 2008 and 2010. The Aggies fell to University Liggett in the Semifinals in 2011.

Beal City left the bases loaded four times through the first seven innings and stranded 14 runners on the day.

Aggies pitcher Ty Rollin took a perfect game into the fifth inning and a no-hitter into the sixth, when Patrick Broder ended his latter bid with a leadoff infield single.

The game was tied 1-1 in the top of the seventh when the Knights got a one-out single from Connor Fannon, a walk to Nathan Gaggin, and a single from Anthony Simon to load the bases. Kevin Allen’s sacrifice fly to center brought home the go-ahead run.

The Aggies tied it in the bottom of the seventh when No. 9 hitter Nicholas Hoogerhyde drew a bases-loaded walk.

Fannon, who had taken over on the mound for University Liggett to start the fifth inning, then struck out Rollin, the Aggies’ leadoff hitter, and they had left the bases loaded for the fourth time.

Still, Beal City had managed to tie the game, setting the stage for the dramatic eighth inning.

Zingas, University Liggett’s No. 9 hitter, led off the top of the eighth with an infield hit. He moved to second on an Adam Fiema bunt, and took third on yet another infield single, this one by Mark Auk.

With Auk on first base, a wild pickoff attempt skipped by first baseman Ryan Tilmann, and Zingas raced home with what turned out to be the winning run.

For the bottom of the eighth Fiema relieved Fannon, University Liggett’s workhorse who went the distance in the Knights’ 1-0 Semifinal win over New Lothrop on Friday.

Fiema struck out the Aggies’ leadoff hitter, and then induced popouts for the final two outs. Both were highlight reel-worthy catches, the first a sliding grab by Auk in shallow centerfield on a ball that looked certain to drop for a hit; the second by catcher Nathan Gaggin. He caught the final out falling backward in foul territory between home plate and the first-base on-deck circle.

Rollin went all eight innings on the mound for Beal City. He allowed six hits, struck out five and walked two. Fannon earned the victory, while Fiema picked up the save.

“I give it to my guys,” Cimini said. “I love those guys. They fight, scratch, claw – they never give up, and they will never give up and that’s how we won this baseball game.”

As proud, Cimini said, as he was of his own team, he was equally proud of – but also sympathetic toward – the Aggies.

“Their coach (Brad Antcliff), he’s one of my best friends in the coach world and I respect him and what he’s done with that program. And I told him neither team deserved to lose this ballgame, and I believe that with all my heart.

“They (Beal City) should be super proud, I’m super proud, and I’m super proud to be able to be able to play against a team and a coach like that.”

Click for a full box score.

PHOTO: (Top) University Liggett pitcher Connor Fannon begins to celebrate after catcher Nathan Gaggin catches the final out of the Division 4 Final. (Middle) Knights shortstop Nicholas Azar dives over teammate Mark Evan Auk after Auk makes a grab during the eighth inning. (Click to see more from Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)

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

By Geoff Kimmerly 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.