Parkway Runs Away for 1st Championship

June 18, 2016

By Andy Sneddon
Special for Second Half

EAST LANSING – Sterling Heights Parkway Christian baseball coach Rich Koch worried heading into the MHSAA tournament about run production. 

His concerns were clearly unfounded.

The Eagles collected 13 hits Saturday in rolling past Portland St. Patrick, 10-3, in the Division 4 championship game at Michigan State University’s McLane Stadium. 

It was the first MHSAA title for the Eagles (23-11-1), who outscored their opponents, 64-9, in seven tournament games. In five of those victories, Parkway scored at least 10 runs.

“One-through-nine, you don’t get any relief in our lineup, and that’s been a huge part of our success the last couple of weeks,” Koch said. “Looking at the last seven games, and it sounds kind of foolish, but offense was our biggest question mark. 

“We knew pitching was going to be there, and we’re comfortable with our defense, but these guys, to their credit, they’ve taken an aggressive approach and they’ve hit some pretty good pitching. We got hot at the right time, and that’s our goal every year, peak at the right time and we did that.”

St. Patrick, playing in its first title game since 1993, finished 23-8. Parkway's only other championship game appearance came when it finished Division 4 runner-up in 2009.

The top seven hitters in Parkway’s lineup had at least one hit each. Pierce Banks, Andrew Manier, Austin Fuller, Alex Julio and Jacob Bambrick had two apiece.

Parkway jumped to a 5-0 lead with a five-run second inning and was never seriously threatened, though St. Patrick scored a run and left the bases loaded in the top of the third. 

Banks came on to get the final out of the inning on a strikeout. Parkway starter Riley McManus walked six over 2 2/3 innings. He forced in St. Patrick’s third-inning run with a walk.

“Riley didn’t have his best stuff, but he still worked hard, grinded it out, and I guess I just did what Coach needed me to do and that was throw strikes and get outs,” said Banks, who surrendered two runs on six hits while striking out three over 4 1/3 innings for the victory. 

Banks threw a complete game in Parkway’s 10-1 Quarterfinal victory over Unionville-Sebewaing on Tuesday. The Eagles’ top three pitchers, Manier (Spring Arbor), McManus (Eastern Michigan), and Banks (Adrian College) are all seniors who will play in college next year.

“Pitching is always huge in the playoffs,” Koch said. “If you have pitching, you have a chance to win no matter what. We have three guys who are pitching at the next level next year. You don’t get that very often at any school, let alone a Division 4 school. 

“Having three guys this week was huge … we have three dominant pitchers.”

Brendan Schrauben had two hits for St. Patrick.

Click for the full box score

PHOTOS: (Top) Montana Essian (9) greets Parkway Christian teammate Andrew Manier at the plate Saturday. (Middle) Portland St. Patrick’s Graham Smith beats a throw to first as Manier stretches for the throw.

No Runs, No Hits: East Jordan Aces Toss 4 Straight Shutouts, 3 Straight No-Hitters

By Tom Spencer
Special for

May 17, 2024

Playing shortstop this year for East Jordan High School admittedly has become rather boring at times.

Northern Lower PeninsulaThere hasn’t been a whole lot of action at what’s usually the busiest spot in the infield — no matter who is playing it.

Junior Eli Burns knows that better than anyone. He is the Red Devils’ regular shortstop. He also pitches.

Ryder Malpass knows what it’s like to play short this season as well – he’s normally in the spot when Burns is on the mound.

But he also has a feel for how little the shortstop does regularly for the Division 4 No. 16 Red Devils from his usual spot at catcher – receiving behind the plate for a pitching staff averaging almost two strikeouts per inning. 

Just recently, East Jordan put together three straight no-hitters and four straight shutouts.

“It’s good,” Burns said of playing short. “When you have confidence with your pitchers you don’t have to worry about the ball being hit to you that much.”

Ryder Malpass keeps an eye on a runner before making his move toward the plate. Malpass, a junior, started the shoutout string himself with a 4-0 win over Bellaire last week, when he earned the win throwing 5 1/3 innings with seven strikeouts while going 2 for 3 at the plate with a double and RBI. Junior Korbyn Russell closed out the game.

Then Burns started the no-hitter run in the second game that night with Bellaire, a 6-0 Red Devils win. Burns had 10 strikeouts and just a single walk allowed. He also tripled in the game.

This week the no-hitter string continued with 1-0 and 2-0 wins over Boyne City. Russell and senior Lucas Stone threw the Red Devils’ third and fourth no-hitters of the season.

Stone threw a perfect game across six innings. He struck out 12 batters on just 70 pitches and also went 2 for 3 with an RBI against the Ramblers. Russell earned the 1-0 win over Boyne City with 5 1/3 no-hit innings behind 11 strikeouts and with just a lone walk allowed. Stone followed Russell to pick up the save for the Red Devils, now 13-9-1 overall on the season and 6-4 in Lake Michigan Conference play.  

Russell is 6-2 on the season with two saves. Going into Thursday’s game with Charlevoix, he had struck out 92 batters over 42 innings while compiling a 0.86 ERA. Stone is 5-2. Before suffering his second loss of the season to the Rayders, his ERA was 1.17 and he had fanned 38 in 36 innings of work. Burns has racked up 17 strikeouts so far in just over 14 innings.

“It’s pretty special to be a part of something not many teams can do,” Russell said. “We have a special group of pitchers to get the job done.”

Stone credits the Red Devils’ defensive play for the pitching staff’s success.

“Our defense has helped the pitching a lot because they don’t make a lot of errors,” Stone said.  “It makes it a lot easier when you know they are going to make plays behind you.”

Korbyn Russell prepares to unload a pitch.East Jordan came into this week beginning to approach the state records for consecutive shutout innings and games. That ended yesterday in twin bill losses to Division 3 No. 11 Charlevoix. But the Red Devils still can chase the national record of nine no-hit games in a season. (No official record is kept for no-hitters by a Michigan high school team in a season.)

There is also no known record of any East Jordan team racking up three no-hitter wins in a row.

“I don’t think there’s been any stretch with three no-hitters in a row, so that is pretty special,” noted East Jordan coach Adam Grybauskas. “We’re kind of picking up where things were last year and trying to build on last year’s success and make it even better this year.”

The Red Devils captured a Division 4 District championship in 2023 and then a 9-6 Regional Semifinal win over Gaylord St. Mary. The season came to an end in the Regional Final with a 2-0 loss to Painsdale Jeffers.

Russel, Stones and Burns were on the pitching staff last year as East Jordan made that run. The Red Devils will host the District tournament this year as familiar opponents Bellaire, Central Lake and Ellsworth will vie to stop East Jordan’s attempt at repeating as champion. The doubleheader loss to undefeated Charlevoix ended the Red Devils’ hopes of sharing the LMC title with the Rayders.

“I think we’ve played a little bit better competition this year,’ Grybauskas said.  “Our focus this year is taking each doubleheader at a time, and try to get better each week.

“It’s really been game by game and week to week,” he continued. “You’re always looking to do better than last year so obviously that will be something we’ll talk about in the future.”

Tom SpencerTom Spencer is a longtime MHSAA-registered basketball and soccer official, and former softball and baseball official, and he also has coached in the northern Lower Peninsula area. He previously has written for the Saginaw News, Bay County Sports Page and Midland Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Alcona, Oscoda, Crawford, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties.

PHOTOS (Top) East Jordan’s Lucas Stone winds up during a game. (Middle) Ryder Malpass keeps an eye on a runner before making his move toward the plate. (Below) Korbyn Russell prepares to unload a pitch. (Photos courtesy of the East Jordan athletic department.)