Pitchers Provide Offensive Sparks Too as Algonac, Bridgman Advance

By Keith Dunlap
Special for MHSAA.com

June 15, 2023

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. 

Kasner makes his move toward the plate. 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.” 

Click for the box score.

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.”

Bridgman’s Alec MacMartin delivers a pitch during the day’s last Semifinal.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.”

Click for the box score.

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.) 

For Coach: Powers Completes 1st Title Run for 42-Year Leader Dutkowski

By Keith Dunlap
Special for MHSAA.com

June 15, 2024

EAST LANSING — On behalf of this current Flint Powers Catholic baseball team, Saturday’s message was loud and clear to past players, alumni and school officials:

We finally did it for Tom. 

Tom would be longtime head coach Tom Dutkowski, who after 42 years and 872 wins finally got to coach in a state championship game Saturday. 

Not only did Powers get there for Dutkowski, but the Chargers delivered win No. 873 and his long-awaited first title as coach with an 11-0 defeat of Spring Lake in the Division 2 Final at McLane Stadium. 

“We just made Flint Powers history, and to be a part of that is amazing,” Powers senior Fischer Hendershot said. “We have a lot of alumni and a lot of alumni on the coaching staff. To do it for the coaching staff, everyone here, everyone in Powers, every alumni and everyone who cares about us is a great feeling.” 

The Chargers’ Fischer Hendershot delivers a pitch.After accepting the championship trophy and raising into the air triumphantly, Dutkowski reflected on the journey and long wait.

It was the third title for Powers baseball, joining the 1974 and 1980 championships. Dutkowski was an assistant on the 1980 team. 

“I played in ’73 here, and my joke for that was that I taught the ’74 guys everything they knew and then they won a state championship the next year,” Dutkowski said. “We won it in ’80 with just a gritty team. My third year as a head coach we got to the final four in Class A, and I figured this was going to happen every three years. And then it was a 39-year drought in terms of that.”

The game ended after five innings via the run differential rule and capped off a fairly dominant season for Powers — or at least as dominant as a baseball team can be for a season.

The Chargers finished 37-6 and outscored opponents by a combined 57-13 during the MHSAA Tournament.

The only close call during the playoffs came in Friday’s Semifinal, when Powers blew a 3-0 lead to Trenton before prevailing in the bottom of the eighth inning, 4-3, on a walk-off single by senior Gavin Darling. 

“These guys, they never flinched and they never wavered,” Dutkowski said. “They developed into being a great team, not just individual talent.”

Powers wasted no time against Spring Lake, taking a 2-0 lead with one out in the top of the first inning on a two-run double to the gap in left-center by Darling. After a ground out, Darling scored on a Spring Lake throwing error to give Powers a 3-0 lead. 

Powers added another run in the second inning on a bases-loaded walk to make it 4-0. 

Teammates congratulate Michael Klein (6) as he returns to the dugout.In the third, Powers scored four runs to take an 8-0 lead on an RBI single by Hendershot, a walk with the bases loaded and a two-run single by freshman Connor Kelly. 

Powers then put three more runs on the board in the fourth inning to take an 11-0 lead. 

Hendershot was the winner on the mound, allowing two hits and striking out five in five innings of work. 

Spring Lake also was attempting to win its first Finals title, but had to settle for its third runner-up finish (to go with those from 1995 and 1978). 

The Lakers finished 32-10. 

“They are a good team, and this was their year,” Spring Lake head coach Bill Core said. “We just couldn’t keep them off of the bases, and our pitching wasn’t as sharp as it’s been. We gave them a couple of free passes, and they mixed in some good hitting. That’s a good team, and that’s why they’ve been ranked No. 1 in the state all year.”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) Flint Powers Catholic raises its championship trophy to complete the 2024 baseball season Saturday evening at McLane Stadium. (Middle) The Chargers’ Fischer Hendershot delivers a pitch. (Below) Teammates congratulate Michael Klein (6) as he returns to the dugout.