By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
BATTLE CREEK – Richmond baseball coach Scott Evans has been something of a drill sergeant during his two seasons running the program, junior Austin Harvey said.
But that’s exactly what the Blue Devils needed to reach a game they’d never played in before.
Richmond played in its first MHSAA Semifinal on Friday at Bailey Park. And thanks to a 3-2 win over Milan, the Blue Devils now will face reigning champion Grand Rapids Christian with a championship on the line.
“These juniors and seniors are a bunch of overachievers, and they were tired of the status quo,” Evans said. “They decided to hit the weight room, decided they wanted something better. They set goals and worked for it.
“When you get a group of kids, a bunch of teenagers, to believe in you and do what you ask them to do, go through a wall for you, then you can overachieve. That’s what’s going on here.”
Evans is a 1986 Richmond grad who went on to play at Eastern Michigan University and then coached at Clinton Township Clintondale for 16 seasons before coming home last spring.
By calling his players overachievers, Evans was not saying they lacked in talent. Far from it. Richmond (34-4) has plenty of ability. But it began to transform into more than potential last season as the Blue Devils began to see they could compete with highly-regarded opponents.
“Practice like we play. That’s what we always say,” Harvey said.
And that’s put this team in position to create school history.
Evans’ practices are intense to put his players in game-like situations. Drills are hard, but beneficial. “Coach likes to make things tough,” Harvey said. “He changed practices, and that changed the way we play.”
Richmond had to be on point Friday against Milan, which also was hoping to make its first Final.
The teams combined for only 12 hits, and after taking a second-inning lead Richmond faced a 1-1 deadlock heading into the bottom of the sixth.
Harvey led off with a single, stole second base and scored on a single by Evan Kratt. Junior Nick Ottenbacher, who pinch-ran for Kratt, also scored – which would prove necessary as Milan scored once in the top of the seventh inning before stranding two runners to end the game.
Kratt and senior Mitchell Ward both had two hits for Richmond, and Ward gave up only one run in six innings pitched.
Sophomore Thomas Lindeman was 2-for-4 for Milan (26-13) and threw four innings of one-run ball.
Grand Rapids Christian 1, Remus Chippewa Hills 0
The Eagles continued their run at a repeat championship thanks in large part to senior pitcher Alex VanDeVusse.
One of the heroes of Grand Rapids Christian’s Division 3 football championship in the fall, the quarterback-now-pitcher tossed a two-hit shutout and struck out 11.
He also was 2-for-3 from the lead-off spot and drove in senior rightfielder Tyler Davison in the fourth inning for the game’s only run.
The Eagles improved to 18-15 after entering the playoffs 12-15.
Senior Jake Tarbell was similarly masterful on the mound for Chippewa Hills. He gave up only five hits, and the run was unearned because Davison reached base on a throwing error. The Warriors finished 27-7.
PHOTOS: (Top) Richmond's Austin Harvey (20) slides in front of Milan catcher Jacob Friese to give the Blue Devils a 2-1 lead in the sixth inning Friday. (Middle) Grand Rapids Christian's Alex VanDeVusse throws a pitch during his shutout performance against Remus Chippewa Hills. (Click to see more from Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)
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.