EAST LANSING – For Algonac junior pitcher Josh Kasner, his bat proved to be the perfect medicine for what was ailing him on the mound during a Division 3 Semifinal against Lansing Catholic on Thursday.
Kasner labored through the first three innings of his start, but then new adrenaline on the mound came after what he did at the plate in the bottom of the third inning at Michigan State’s McLane Stadium.
With two outs, two strikes and two men on base, Kasner launched a 3-run home run just to the right of the foul pole.
Kasner settled down on the mound after that, with the home run and his pitching being the difference for Algonac in a 4-1 win over the Cougars that earned the Muskrats their first appearance in a Final at 11:30 a.m. Saturday.
“It was a fastball inside,” Kasner said. “To be honest, I was sitting on fastball and adjusting to off-speed. It was my pitch, and I got it inside the foul pole. I knew that once I got that home run, we were up 3-1, I settled in and I was going to be fine.”
Indeed, as Kasner didn’t allow Lansing Catholic much of a threat after he threw 55 pitches, walked three and hit two batters through the first three innings.
Over the last four innings, Kasner didn’t walk anybody and allowed only one Lansing Catholic batter to reach second base.
“I think he was stressed a little bit,” Algonac head coach Scott Thaler said. “You get to this point, I think the zone is where it should be as opposed to sometimes where it is during the season. He got the idea of what a college zone is like, which should help him out in a couple of years.”
After Kasner’s blast, Algonac added another in the fifth inning when junior Matt Rix reached on a bunt single, stole second, took third on a sacrifice bunt and then scored on a passed ball to give the Muskrats a 4-1 lead.
Lansing Catholic scored first in the top of the third inning, grabbing a 1-0 lead on an RBI single to right with two outs by senior Drew Burlingame. The Cougars later loaded the bases with two outs in the third, but Kasner got out of the jam with a strikeout.
Sophomore Drew Tolfre allowed just four hits in a complete-game effort for Lansing Catholic (23-6.)
“He had two strikes on (Kasner), but he kind of missed his spot a little bit,” Lansing Catholic head coach Randy Farlin said. “But you can’t fault him. He pitched a helluva game. We just didn’t have the bats. One run is not going to do it for us. We just didn’t put it all together today.”
Bridgman 3, Standish-Sterling 2
Bridgman didn’t get a hit until the seventh inning of its Semifinal against Standish-Sterling.
But all Bees (32-9) needed were two hits during that set of at-bats to move on to their first Final since 2011.
With the score tied 2-2 and a runner on second base, freshman Cooper Allwood delivered the game-winning single to left with one out, scoring junior Alec MacMartin to give Bridgman the victory.
MacMartin started the inning with the first hit of the day off of Standish-Sterling sophomore starter Sam Briggs, and then was sacrificed over to second.
“We were just having fun and getting comfortable in the situation,” Allwood said. “Just never giving up. We’ve been in games like this before. Nothing new.”
After neither team collected a hit through the first three innings, Standish-Sterling got something going in the top of the fourth.
Junior Cooper Prout led off with a double, and then sophomore pinch runner Brecken Stokoszynski scored on an RBI single by senior Brayden Schabel.
In the bottom of the fourth, Bridgman put runners on second and third with two outs after an error and a hit batter, but a flyout ended the threat.
In the fifth, Standish-Sterling took a 2-0 lead when a fly ball by Briggs just eluded the Bridgman left fielder down the line, scoring sophomore Brock Bartlett.
The Bees answered in the bottom half of the fifth, tying the game at 2-2 without registering a hit thanks in large part to three infield errors by Standish-Sterling.
An RBI groundout by Allwood made it 2-1, and then Bridgman tied the game at 2-2 following another error with a runner on third and two outs.
The score remained that way until Allwood’s single in the seventh.
“We were just missing that timely hit,” Bridgman head coach Justin Hahaj said. “We finally got it.”
MacMartin got the win on the mound for Bridgman, allowing four hits, walking one and striking out six in a complete-game effort.
Briggs lost for the first time this year, striking out eight for Standish-Sterling (29-15), which fell in the Semifinals for the second-straight season.
Standish-Sterling head coach Ryan Raymond said it was more than just four errors that cost his team.
“We didn’t hit in the right spots either,” Raymond said. “We had some opportunities to get some hits and knock some more runs. It’s a team effort.”
PHOTOS (Top) Algonac’s Josh Kasner rounds third base during his home run in Thursday’s Semifinal win over Lansing Catholic. (Middle) Kasner makes his move toward the plate. (Below) Bridgman’s Alec MacMartin delivers a pitch during the day’s last Semifinal. (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.