Preview: McLane to Showcase Spring's Stars Seeking to Become Saturday's Champions

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

June 12, 2024

Fans filling Michigan State’s McLane Stadium for this weekend’s MHSAA Baseball Semifinals & Finals will have opportunities to watch several accomplished standouts and plenty of potential stars in the making as well.

This weekend’s Division 1 and 2 games will feature their shares of high-caliber college prospects – and even a few potential Major League Baseball draft selections.

Our Division 3 and 4 brackets, meanwhile, are guaranteed to produce at least one team apiece Saturday playing for a first Finals championship in this sport – both of those divisions have three contenders vying to win it all for the first time.

Division 1 – Thursday
Bay City Western vs. Northville - 2:30 p.m.
Grosse Pointe North vs. Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice - 5 p.m.

Division 2 – Friday
Flint Powers Catholic vs. Trenton - 2:30 p.m.
Spring Lake vs. Richland Gull Lake - 5 p.m.

Division 3 – Thursday
Charlevoix vs. Jackson Lumen Christi - 9 a.m.
Detroit Edison vs. Watervliet - 11:30 a.m.

Division 4 – Friday
Beal City vs. Vermontville Maple Valley - 9 a.m.
Marine City Cardinal Mooney vs. Norway - 11:30 a.m.

FINALS – Saturday
Division 1 – 11:30 a.m.
Division 2 – 5 p.m.
Division 3 – 9 a.m.
Division 4 – 2:30 p.m.

Tickets cost $11 and may be purchased online only at GoFan. One ticket is good for all baseball, softball and girls soccer games at MSU’s Old College Field that day. All Semifinals and Finals will be broadcast and available with subscription from, with free audio broadcasts on the MHSAA Network.

Below is a glance at all 16 teams taking the field:

Division 1

Record/rank: 35-6-1, No. 4
Coach: Tim McDonald, 32nd season (867-281-11)
League finish: Second in Saginaw Valley League
Championship history: Division 1 champion 2014 and 2013.
Players to watch: Mikey Deluca, jr. IF (.422, 45 R, 29 2B); Aidan Robinson, sr. OF (.316, 39 R, 22 SB); Luke Lacourse, jr. P/IF (12-0, 0.50 ERA, 111 K/69 1/3 IP). Kole Wilson, sr. P/OF (.330, 35 R, 26 RBI, 17 SB, 6-0, 1.52 ERA).
Outlook: This will be Western’s first Semifinal trip since its back-to-back championship seasons, but the Warriors have won at least 33 games five times over the last decade. They advanced this time in part thanks to a District win over Midland Dow, which split with Western during the regular season and had eliminated the Warriors two of the last three years. Western also split in league play with Division 2 top-ranked Flint Powers Catholic, which won the SVL. Robinson made the all-state second team last spring and is one of six regulars batting over .300, with senior Bryce Neitzel (.371, 32 RBI) and junior Jack Sequin (.330, 33 R) among other top hitters. Sequin also is 6-1 on the mound, and junior Brayden Simmon is 10-1 with a 1.89 ERA. Lacourse has committed to Michigan State.

Record/rank: 43-1, No. 1
Coach: Bob Riker, 26th season (730-243-4)
League finish: First in Catholic High School League Central
Championship history: Three MHSAA titles (most recent 2008), three runner-up finishes.
Players to watch: Owen Turner, sr. C/IF/P (.477, 53 R, 10 HR, 39 RBI); Ryan Tyranski, sr. 1B/OF/C/P (.472, 52 R, 15 2B, 36 RBI, 21 SB, 5-0 pitching, 1.84 ERA); Chase Van Ameyde, jr. P/OF (.417, 48 R, 17 2B, 10 HR, 67 RBI); Blake Ilitch, jr. P (8-0, 0.68 ERA, 97 K/62 IP).
Outlook: Aside from an early April loss to Detroit U-D Jesuit, Brother Rice has been unbeatable this season with late sweeps of Northville and Detroit Edison among highlights. The Warriors have defeated No. 12 West Bloomfield, No. 13 Birmingham Seaholm and No. 20 Allen Park as well during this tournament run. Turner made the all-state first team last season and will continue his career at Yale, and several of his teammates already have their post-high school plans decided as well including senior outfielder Ty Fox (Ohio State), Van Ameyde (Notre Dame), Tyranski (Central Michigan), senior infielder Max Orozco (Oakland), Ilitch (Duke) and freshman catcher/first baseman Broder Katke (Duke). Among other stat standouts Fox is hitting .414, senior Tristan Crane also has 10 homers, and sophomore Cole Duhaime (10-0, 0.87 ERA, 73 K/55 1/3 IP) and freshman Aiden Pack (7-0, 1.80 ERA, 50 K/35 IP) also bolster the pitching staff.

Record/rank: 16-19, unranked
Coach: Kevin Shubnell, third season (63-49)
League finish: Third in Macomb Area Conference White
Championship history: Two MHSAA titles (most recent 2006), one runner-up finish.
Players to watch: Brennan Hill, sr. P/OF (6-1, 0.46 ERA, 73 K/46 IP); Shane Armbruster, sr. 3B (.376, 20 R); Bobby Rhodes, sr. 1B (.305, 21 RBI); Rocco Cardinale, sr. P/OF (1.42 ERA, 49 K/44 1/3 IP).
Outlook: Grosse Pointe North – the Division 1 runner-up two seasons ago – has put together the surprise run of this tournament, entering the postseason on a 1-7 skid but rebounding to outscore its six playoff opponents by a combined 40-5 with four shutouts, Among those was a 2-0 Regional title clincher over No. 6 Macomb Dakota, and the 7-4 District Final win over Grosse Point South avenged an earlier 11-0 loss. Eight pitchers have started at least one game for the Norsemen, who have a 2.98 team ERA despite playing 10 games against teams ranked at the end of the regular season. Hill made the all-state second team last season and will continue at Michigan.

Record/rank: 30-7, No. 3
Coach: Dan Cimini, first season (30-7)
League finish: First in Kensington Lakes Activities Association West
Championship history: Division 1 runner-up 2017.
Players to watch: Dante Nori, sr. CF (.477, 49 R, 14 2B, 20 SB); Justin Brown, sr. P (8-2, 1.68 ERA, 78 K/58 1/3 IP); Caden Besco, sr. P/1B (9-1, 0.98 ERA, 88 K/64 IP); Evan Deak, sr. OF/P (.311, 10 2B, 33 RBI, 3-0 pitching, 1.06 ERA 43 K/33 IP).
Outlook: Northville reached the Quarterfinals in 2022 and fell in a Regional Semifinal to eventual Division 1 champion Novi last year, but will attempt to follow Cimini to its first championship – he guided Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett to five over two decades leading that program. Nori has signed with Mississippi State and is ranked No. 47 in this summer’s draft class by He made the all-state first team last season with now-senior pitcher Joey Broughton (Pittsburgh), while senior infielder Luke Dieringer made the second team in 2023. Broughton hasn’t pitched this season, but Northville has turned successfully to several others including Besco and Brown, the latter of whom will continue at Michigan next season. The Mustangs have defeated Novi, No. 5 Detroit Catholic Central and No. 18 Okemos during this tournament run.

Division 2

Record/rank: 35-6, No. 1
Coach: Tom Dutkowski, 42nd season (871-537-10)
League finish: First in Saginaw Valley League
Championship history: Class B champion 1980 and 1974.
Players to watch: Grant Garman, sr. P/1B (.369, 32 R, 22 RBI, 14-0 pitching, 0.40 ERA, 122 K/70 IP); Isaac Sturgess, sr. OF/P (.548, 65 R, 11 3B, 10 HR, 57 RBI, 21 SB, 4-0 pitching, 0.27 ERA, 46 K/25 1/3 IP); Connor Kelly, sr. SS (.360, 33 R, 38 RBI); Fischer Hendershot, sr. P/1B (8-1, 1.04 ERA, 82 K/54 IP, 36 RBI).
Outlook: Powers has won three straight Regional titles and reached the Semifinals last season as Garman, Sturgess and Kelly all made the all-state first team. Sturgess has signed with Michigan State, Garman with Oakland and Hendershot will play next at Eastern Michigan, and they headline a pitching staff giving up only 1.76 earned runs per game. The Chargers have defeated No. 18 Lake Fenton and No. 17 DeWitt during this tournament run and won their league ahead of Division 1 No. 4 Bay City Western.

Record/rank: 26-11, unranked
Coach: Reggie Walters, eighth season (148-104)
League finish: Sixth in Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Landon Evans, sr. IF/OF (.427, 33 R, 15 2B, 33 RBI, 21 SB); Luke Anderson, jr. P/IF (.405, 31 R, 28 RBI, 2-1 pitching, 1.68 ERA, 5 Sv); Evan Kaiser, sr. P/OF (.386, 19 SB); Julian Harris, sr. P/IF/OF (.346, 36 R, 30 RBI, 28 SB, 2-0 pitching, 0.00 ERA)
Outlook: Gull Lake is another contender that has surged somewhat unexpectedly into this weekend, as the Blue Devils defeated reigning Division 2 champion Grand Rapids Christian 8-0 to earn this trip to East Lansing – its first to the Semifinals since 2014. Gull Lake won nine of its last 12 games heading into the postseason, with two of those defeats close ones to Division 1 No. 16 Portage Northern. Senior Brendan Tanner (.378, 30 R) and sophomore Max Markham (.346, 30 R) also are top contributors to a team hitting .330 as a whole, and sophomore Jacob Palmatier (6-3, 1.93 ERA) has the most decisions on the mound. Harris has signed with Western Michigan and made headlines during the winter as he overcame a cancer diagnosis.

Record/rank: 31-9, No. 15
Coach: Bill Core, second season (52-23)
League finish: Second in Ottawa-Kent Conference Blue
Championship history: Class B runner-up 1995 and 1978.
Players to watch: Oliver Smies, soph. OF (.409, 13 2B, 34 RBI); Jaden Core, jr. IF/P (.348, 31 R, 19 SB, 2-0 pitching, 1.56 ERA); Zane Stahl, jr. P/IF (8-2, 1.53 ERA, 102 K/77 2/3 IP); Will May (.322, 6-2 pitching, 2.95 ERA).
Outlook: Bill Core coached the Spring Lake softball varsity for 30 years, just finished his 23rd leading the boys basketball team and guided the girls hoops program for 10. But although he’s in just his second with the baseball varsity, he’s led the Lakers to two straight Regional titles and now its first Semifinal since that most recent runner-up season in 1995. Junior outfielder Gabe Trask (.345, 30 R) leads off and with senior infielder Zach Schlepp (.316, 32 R) is another key to the offense, while sophomore Maddux Kipling has been the biggest winner on the mound at 11-3. Stahl has committed to sign with Louisville.

Record/rank: 30-10-1, No. 4
Coach: Todd Szalka, 17th season (393-198-3)
League finish: Third in Downriver League
Championship history: Class B champion 1994.
Players to watch: Ashton Rooney jr. P/SS (.360, 30 R, 13 2B, 34 RBI, 24 SB, 6-3 pitching); Caleb Kidd, sr. P/1B/OF (.336, 9-0 pitching, 0.67 ERA, 85 K/73 1/3 IP); Josh Pippin, sr. OF (.379, 31 R); Joel Mator, jr. P/OF (8-2, 0.57 ERA, 77 K/61 1/3 IP).
Outlook: Trenton won its third Regional title in five seasons (not counting COVID-canceled 2020) and is back at the Semifinals for the first time since 2019 after emerging from a league that included No. 12 Southgate Anderson and Division 1 No. 20 Allen Park. The Trojans have defeated Anderson, No. 8 New Boston Huron, No. 14 Adrian and 2023 Division 2 runner-up University Liggett over their last four playoff games. Senior Zach DeChane (.325, 21 SB) and junior Carson Boike (.380) are two more of the highest-hitting regulars contributing to the team’s overall .323 average.

Division 3

Record/rank: 27-10-1, No. 10
Coach: Steve Speigl, first season (27-10-1)
League finish: First in Lake Michigan Conference
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Bryce Johnson, sr. P/IF (.307, 7-1 pitching, 0.75 ERA, 91 K/56 IP); Ryan Pearl, jr. IF/C (.363 13 2B, 34 RBI); Aiden Speigl, jr. IF (.476, 43 R, 36 RBI, 29 SB,); Owen Waha, jr. P/IF (.361, 33 R, 30 RBI, 26 SB, 9-2 pitching, 1.67 ERA, 70 K/54 1/3 IP).
Outlook: Charlevoix is making its first trip to the Semifinals since 1980 having won 11 of its last 12 games and after scoring at least five runs in all of its first five playoff matchups. Aiden Spiegl made the all-state first team last season and Johnson made the second, and the Rayders have seen plenty of tough competition along the way this spring with a split against Division 4 top-ranked Beal City, another win over Division 4 No. 2 Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart and losses to Division 1 Rockford and Division 2 Spring Lake among other larger opponents. Junior Emmett Bergmann is another big bat of note, hitting .330 this spring from the second slot in the lineup, and senior Troy Nickel gives the team a third 20-steals threat at the top.

Record/rank: 25-11, No. 5
Coach: Mark Brown, eighth season (165-85)
League finish: First in Charter School Conference
Championship history: Division 3 runner-up 2022.
Players to watch: Marwynn Matthews, sr. IF (.349, 25 RBI, 23 SB, 6-2 pitching, 1.50 ERA, 60 K/52 IP, 4 Sv); Jordan Jones, sr. 3B/1B (.357, 28 RBI, 27 SB); Kole Waterman, jr. P/OF (.328, 8-3 pitching, 1.75 ERA, 52 K/71 IP, 3 Sv); DeShawn Williams, sr. OF/P (.352, 33 R, 31 SB).
Outlook: Edison is making its second trip to McLane in three seasons, with a Regional Final win over No. 2 Algonac highlighting this run. Matthews made the all-state first team last season, and Waterman and Jones made the second, and they help lead a lineup that includes seven .300 hitters total – sophomore Jon’Tae Wright (.322), senior Aveon Royster (.313) and junior Parrish Smith (.345, 58 runs) join the four above. Matthews is expected to take the ball on the mound and is one of five pitchers with at least four wins this season – and those five also all have saved at least one game.

Record/rank: 29-10, No. 15
Coach: Phil Clifford, 14th season (276-146-2)
League finish: Fourth in Catholic High School League AA.
Championship history: Two MHSAA titles (most recent 2015).
Players to watch: Brodie Gregory, jr. IF (.442, 12 2B); Gabe King, sr. P/SS (.441, 10-3 pitching, 1.09 ERA); Paul Sattler, soph. IF (.369); Kash Kalahar, jr. C/3B (.355).
Outlook: The Titans are headed to the Semifinals for the first time since making back-to-back trips in 2015 and 2016. They’ve outscored their six playoff opponents by a combined 47-3, with a 1-0 District Final win over No. 7 Olivet among highlights. Lumen Christi also took two of three from Division 2 No. 19 Dearborn Divine Child and won the CHSL’s Cardinal Tournament with a third win this spring over Division 4 No. 6 Marine City Cardinal Mooney. Freshman Benny Gaston (.346) has added another solid bat to the lineup, and juniors Timmy Crowley (8-0, 1.81 ERA) and Nathan Hinkley (5-2, 0.55 ERA) also could see the mound this weekend.

Record/rank: 29-7, No. 8
Coach: Josh Tremblay, 14th season (267-116)
League finish: First in Southwestern Athletic Conference Lakeshore
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Alex Hicks, sr. P/3B (.441, 36 R, 44 RBI, 38 SB, 3-1 pitching, 2.83 ERA); Owen Epple, jr. C (.420, 30 R, 11 2B); Wyatt Epple, sr. P/SS (.541, .55 R, 20 2B, 42 RBI, 25 SB, 9-1 pitching, 1.08 ERA, 56 K/51 2/3 IP); Caleb Jewell, soph. P/OF (.473, 26 SB, 8-0 pitching, 0.63 ERA, 58 K/44 1/3 IP).
Outlook: Watervliet returned to the Quarterfinals last season and took another step this month earning its first Semifinal trip since 2005. Wyatt Epple made the all-state second team last season and leads a lineup hitting a combined .368. The team’s 216 stolen bases (in 227 attempts) rank fourth in MHSAA history for a single season, and senior Chase Tremblay is another standout on the basepaths with 27 steals without being caught. The Panthers finished a season sweep of 2023 champion Bridgman with a Regional Final win over the No. 17-ranked Bees, one of three shutouts for Watervliet over five playoff games as they’ve outscored their postseason opponents by a combined 40-4.

Division 4

Record/rank: 32-6, No. 1
Coach: Brad Antcliff, 12th season (369-78-5)
League finish: First in Highland Conference
Championship history: Five MHSAA titles (most recent 2023), three runner-up finishes.
Players to watch: Jack Fussman, sr. CF (.388, 44 R, 37 RBI, 24 SB); Jake Gauthier, sr. C (.424, 24 R); Josh Wilson, sr. 1B/P (.455, 34 R, 10 2B, 53 RBI, 7-3 pitching, 2.66 ERA); Cayden Smith, sr. P/SS (.446, 56 R, 30 SB, 9-0 pitching, 0.62 ERA, 104 K/56 2/3 IP).
Outlook: Beal City has played in the last two Division 4 championship games, finishing runner-up in 2022 before winning a year ago, and the Aggies return all but one starter from last season’s Finals lineup. Smith, Wilson, Fussman and Gauthier started in both of those title games. Wilson is a two-time all-state first teamer, while Fussman made the first team as well last year and Gauthier made the second. Senior Lane Gross (.410, 30 R, 20 SB), junior Owen McKenny (.374, 47 R, 30 RBI, 29 SB) and sophomore Blake Walcutt (.342, 31 R) are among other top-hitting returnees. Smith has signed with Kent State.

Record/rank: 23-10, No. 6
Coach: David Bowen, first season (23-10)
League finish: Tied for first in CHSL AA.
Championship history: Division 4 runner-up 2021.
Players to watch: Ty Boedecker, sr. SS (.314, 21 RBI); Avery Brohl, jr. LF/P (8-3, 2.54 ERA, .275, 22 R); Cameron Spezia, jr. 2B (.347, 26 R, 26 RBI); George Szep, sr. P (10-1, 1.53 ERA, 97 K/63 2/3 IP).
Outlook: Bowen was promoted after three years as an assistant and has led Cardinal Mooney to its third Regional title and second Semifinals over the last four seasons. The Cardinals defeated No. 15 Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes in the District Final and also earned pairs of wins over Divine Child and Lumen Christi during the regular season. The starting hitting lineup has only three seniors, and sophomore Joseph Doddy (.306, 19 R) occupies the third spot in a lineup that has scored 56 runs over six postseason games. Freshman Mason Martin (4-0, 1.59) has been an important arm out of the bullpen.

Record/rank: 29-7, unranked
Coach: Bryan Carpenter, 23rd season (312-338)
League finish: First in Big 8 Conference
Championship history: Class C runner-up 1975.
Players to watch: Ayden Wilkes, sr. OF (.346, 54 R, 37 SB); Callan Hoefler, sr. C/P (.371, 52 R, 11 2B, 36 SB, 10-2 pitching 1.96 ERA, 87 K/60 2/3 IP); Jakeb McDonald, jr. 1B/P (.308, 36 R, 30 RBI, 8-2, 1.42 ERA, 87 K/64 IP); Camden Carpenter, sr. UTY (.385, 30 R, 42 RBI, 19 SB).
Outlook: Bryan Carpenter, a 1993 Maple Valley grad, has led the program to other successes over the last few decades but has seen everything come together the last two seasons as the Lions have built toward this first Semifinal run since the 1975 championship season. Five seniors have helped set the pace, but all four classes have at least one starter in the lineup. Maple Valley defeated No. 16 Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic Prep in the Quarterfinals after earning a pair of one-run Regional wins to advance.

 27-3-1, No. 10
Coach: Tony Adams, 10th season (174-81-3)
League finish: First in Skyline Central Conference
Championship history: Has not played in an MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Cole Baij, jr. IF (.390, 29 R, 34 RBI, 21 SB, 11-1 pitching, 1.02 ERA, 85 K/54 2/3 IP); Owen Baij, soph. IF (.435, 41 R, 23 SB, 5-0 pitching, 0.41 ERA); Landon Amundson, jr. C (.425, 39 R, 10 2B); Alex Ortman, sr. IF (.395, 37 R, 28 RBI, 4-2 pitching, 0.20 ERA, 67 K/34 2/3 IP).
Outlook: The Upper Peninsula had three of the top 17 ranked teams in Division 4 at the end of the regular season, and Norway has emerged to make its first trip to the Semifinals. The Knights earned one-run Regional wins over No. 17 Painesdale Jeffers and No. 12 Rudyard before defeating Onaway to reach this weekend. Norway’s only in-state losses were to No. 2 Sacred Heart and Division 2 Escanaba. Sophomore outfielder Cameron Varda is another strong all-around contributor, hitting .405 with 43 runs and 39 stolen bases leading off and going 4-0 with a 1.31 ERA on the mound.

PHOTO Bay City Western’s Luke Lacourse (12) takes a throw at first base ahead of Northville’s Ryan O’Neil when their teams met in a regular-season matchup. (Photo by Terry Lyons.)