By Andy Sneddon
Special for Second Half
EAST LANSING – Hits? Who needs hits?
Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett had just three hits Saturday. But it used just about every other conceivable way to reach base, move runners along, and get them home in downing Decatur, 9-0, in the MHSAA Division 3 Final at McLane Baseball Stadium on the campus of Michigan State University.
It was the second straight title for the Knights (25-8), who won Division 4 crowns in 2011 and 2013. They were runners-up in Division 4 in 2012.
“So proud of the guys, so proud of the program,” said Dan Cimini, who is in his 11th year as Liggett’s coach. “We just keep staying confident and expecting to win every time we step on the baseball field. Doesn’t matter what division we’re in, that’s basically been our motto here.”
Freshman Gehrig Anglin tossed a two-hitter for the complete-game victory. He struck out four and walked three. He stranded two base runners in the first inning and left them loaded with Raiders in the second, then settled in and set down 16 of the last 18 batters he faced.
Joby Kawaski singled in the first inning and Dale Mann singled in the fourth for Decatur’s only hits.
“He didn’t have his best stuff,” Cimini said of Anglin. “He didn’t have his good curve ball, and he struggled with his control early. Our defense got us out of it, and then he settled down.”
A second-inning visit to the mound did the trick, Cimini said.
“I said, ‘Listen, I’m not going to sugar-coat it; if you don’t get this kid out, I’m taking you out,’” Cimini said. “As soon as I said that he focused like nobody’s business. He’s a 14-year-old, but he plays like a junior or senior. He’s been our ace all year. He did not have his best stuff all day. He struggled with his curveball, and his fastball was kind of all over the place.
“He may not say it, but I think he was a little nervous at the beginning.”
Decatur’s last legitimate chance came when it left the bases loaded in the second inning. After that, it was all Liggett, but the Raiders’ lackluster defense played a major role.
Liggett used a hit batsman, a single, an error and a sacrifice fly to seize a 2-0 lead in the third, then blew the game open with a seven-run fifth during which the Knights got just two hits – RBI singles by Adam Fiema and Anthony Simon.
Liggett’s turn at bat in the fifth inning included three walks, three errors, a hit batsman and a suicide squeeze.
Kawaski, Decatur's starter, did not survive the fifth and took the loss. He was charged with nine runs, just two of which were earned. He walked five and struck out six. Matthew Saylor finished up for the Raiders (24-7).
“He didn’t pitch terrible in my opinion,” Decatur coach Ben Botti said. “You know, we make a couple plays – did they get an earned run today? I don’t think they did. I mean, we crushed the ball today and got nothing to show for it. Then we turn around and kick (the ball) around.
“The shortstop boots two, we drop one in center – that kid hasn’t dropped one all year; we drop one at first base. We had another error in there somewhere. When you’ve got to pitch over all that kind of stuff, it’s tough to do.
“We’ve been making those plays in the tournament. And today we didn’t make any of them.”
PHOTOS: (Top) University Liggett scored two runs in the third inning and seven in the fifth to build a comfortable lead in the Division 3 Final. (Middle) The Knights celebrated their second title in three seasons.
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.