It initially might be an absurd notion, but this year’s Orchard Lake St. Mary’s baseball team was able to enter this season with a legitimate chip on its collective shoulder.
Yes, the Eaglets began practice last month having won three straight MHSAA Finals championships (Division 2 titles in 2019 and 2021 and the Division 1 title last year surrounding the canceled 2020 season) and set a state record for wins in a season last year in finishing 44-0.
But the Eaglets graduated some unreal talent from that squad, including four players contributing to Division I college baseball programs this spring (Jack Crighton at Clemson, Ike Irish at Auburn, Nolan Schubert at Oklahoma State and Jake Dresselhouse at Michigan State) and another in pitcher Brock Porter, a top prospect in the Texas Rangers farm system after being taking in the fourth round of last summer’s MLB Draft and inking for signing bonus of $3.7 million.
So going into this year, there was a definite hunger and drive for the returning players to show the rest of the state there wouldn’t be any letup in the program despite the roster attrition.
“We have a lot of new guys who didn’t get an opportunity really last year because of how good our roster was,” said senior second baseman Ryan McKay, a co-captain who has committed to play at Michigan State. “But now they are filling in their shoes amazingly. There are a lot of names people don’t know, and those are the guys helping us win these games.”
Proof of St. Mary’s still excelling and simply reloading certainly came over the weekend in Ohio.
With a win over Grove City in suburban Columbus on Saturday, the Eaglets won their 76th straight game, breaking the state’s all-time record consecutive victories set by Homer during the 2004 and 2005 seasons.
St. Mary’s (11-0) then added a win over Milford (Ohio) to make it 77 wins a row, and is now 12 shy of tying the national record of 89 set by Portsmouth (N.H.) High School in 2012.
Congratulations to the Orchard Lake St. Mary's baseball on setting a new @MHSAA record with 76 consecutive wins! The Eaglets defeated Grove City (Ohio) 11 to 3 during their 4-game Ohio road trip.@OLSMBaseball pic.twitter.com/zY1h3sShTs
— STATE CHAMPS! Michigan (@statechampsmich) April 15, 2023
Given it’s becoming harder and harder to ignore the streak and attention that’s coming with it, breaking the state record made for a festive bus ride home from Ohio on Saturday.
“The thing about it is their commitment to it and to get up for every single game over the course of three seasons,” St. Mary’s head coach Matt Petry said. “That says a lot about our players, how well prepared they are and how serious they take the game. That’s not easy to get up for every single game. Especially knowing you are going to get everyone’s best efforts because they want to be the ones who break the streak.”
There were some close calls en route to this weekend’s accomplishment.
St. Mary’s earned a 5-4 win over Howell on March 26, a 1-0 win over Detroit Catholic Central on March 30, and then a 1-0 win in nine innings last Wednesday against Walsh Jesuit in Ohio.
“There have been close games, but if you want to go far in sports, you have to love those big games,” McKay said. “The nerves are coming, but at the same time, you love it.”
Last year’s seniors were well-known across the state before the season even began. But even after their graduation, there remains loads of talent on the St. Mary’s roster and plenty of time for this group to create similar buzz.
In addition to McKay and top pitcher Aidan Donovan heading to Michigan State, senior shortstop Blake Grimmer is committed to Tennessee, senior SS/P Jasen Oliver is committed to Indiana, and junior Parker Brzustewicz has committed to Notre Dame to headline another roster full of future college players.
Now, the hard part will be continuing to stay focused amidst attention that will undoubtedly increase as the Eaglets pursue the national record.
Fortunately, it won’t be hard for St. Mary’s to get up for its next action Wednesday because it is hosting archrival Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice for a doubleheader.
Odds are St. Mary’s will lose a game at some point. But until then, it will bask in the glow of a ride never seen before in state history.
“It’s definitely in the back of our minds,” McKay said. “But every game we just go out with the same idea, plan and basically play baseball at the end of the day.”
Keith Dunlap has served in Detroit-area sports media for more than two decades, including as a sportswriter at the Oakland Press from 2001-16 primarily covering high school sports but also college and professional teams. His bylines also have appeared in USA Today, the Washington Post, the Detroit Free Press, the Houston Chronicle and the Boston Globe. He served as the administrator for the Oakland Activities Association’s website from 2017-2020. Contact him at [email protected] with story ideas for Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties
PHOTO Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Ciaran Caughey (12) welcomes Jake Dresselhouse after the latter scored during last season’s Semifinal win over Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern.
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.