Riverview Gabriel Richard, Beal City Make Right Plays When Needed Most

By Keith Dunlap
Special for MHSAA.com

June 16, 2022

EAST LANSING – Up until there were two outs in the top of the seventh inning of its Division 4 Semifinal on Thursday, Riverview Gabriel Richard was winning with an unusual formula.

At that point, the Pioneers had three more errors (5) than hits (2), but still found themselves up a run as they looked for some insurance.

After the first two batters made outs, the Pioneers found insurance, and then some.

With a lengthy two-out rally, Gabriel Richard tacked on six runs en route to a 10-3 win over Rudyard. 

The Pioneers (16-12) are headed back to Finals day with an opportunity to add to their  Division 3 title in 2018. 

“It definitely wasn’t the way we drew it up,” Gabriel Richard coach Mike Magier said. “We actually have been playing pretty clean. I don’t know if was nerves or what, but we just didn’t play a very good game today. We finally did wake up and hit some balls there in the seventh inning.”

Gabriel Richard was cruising along with a 4-0 lead and two outs in the sixth, but Rudyard got on the board when senior Austin Warner singled and then scored on a two-out throwing error. 

The rally continued and the Bulldogs pulled to within 4-3 on another two-out error and an RBI single by sophomore Eli Sprague. 

But Gabriel Richard got the runs back in the seventh.

With the bases loaded and two outs, Gabriel Richard took a 5-3 lead on a wild pitch, and then senior Ashton Nowak delivered a two-run single to make it 7-3. 

“It felt really good,” Nowak said. “Especially since I haven’t been really doing well at the plate the last couple of games. I’ve been getting on base, but not a lot of big hits. That was really nice.”

Senior Brenden Hills followed Nowak with an RBI single, a Rudyard error made it 9-3, and then another wild pitch scored a run to make it 10-3. 

Senior Connor Silka didn’t allow an earned run in six innings of work on the mound, then Nowak pitched a scoreless seventh to finish the game for Gabriel Richard.

Rudyard had troubles in the field as well, committing four errors, allowing four unearned runs and throwing eight wild pitches. 

Gabriel Richard opened the scoring in the first inning, taking a 1-0 lead on an RBI groundout by Hills that scored Nowak, who was hit by a pitch to start the inning, took second on a throwing error and went to third on a wild pitch. 

The score remained that way until the fifth inning when Gabriel Richard loaded the bases with nobody out and took a 2-0 lead on a sacrifice fly by senior Bryan Tuttle. 

The Pioneers took a 3-0 lead on a two-out error. Gabriel Richard added another run in the sixth inning on another two-out error by the Bulldogs that made it 4-0. 

Rudyard, which was making its first Semifinal appearance, finished 28-7-1. 

Click for the full box score.

Beal City 14, Whitmore Lake 4 (6 innings)

No. 1-ranked Beal City certainly didn’t play its cleanest game of the year, but ultimately did what it had to in advancing to its seventh championship game. 

The Aggies overcame three errors and six walks allowed during the first three innings by banging out 17 hits. 

Beal City baseballBeal City (30-2) employed a bunt game that was largely responsible for five Whitmore Lake errors and other defensive lapses.

“I told my kids that back in 2018 when we won it, we could bunt, but you guys can’t bunt,” said Beal City coach Steve Pickens, referring to Division 4 championship team in 2018. “We have worked on bunting all year. The best practice we had all year was (Wednesday), and I said that we were going to be able to win bunting. We bunted.”

Whitmore Lake took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning, loading the bases on a single by Zane Gregg, double by Alex Di Dio and walk before plating its runs on a double-play groundout and wild pitch. 

Beal City answered in the bottom of the first, cutting its deficit to 2-1 on an RBI double by senior Hunter Miles. The Aggies then scored three runs in the second inning to take a 4-2 lead, mainly using their bunt game including a pair of bunt singles. 

Whitmore Lake answered in the third inning, taking advantage of three walks, two errors and a misplay in the outfield to score two runs and tie the game at 4-4. But in the fifth inning, Beal City took a 5-4 lead on an RBI bunt single by Konnor Wilson. 

The Aggies made it 8-4 scoring three runs in the fourth inning on another bunt single by Wilson, an RBI sacrifice fly by Wade Wilson and an RBI triple by sophomore Jack Fussman. They scored three more in the fifth inning, thanks in large part to RBI singles by Miles and Josh Wilson, to go up 11-4. 

Beal City then finished out the game by scoring three runs in the sixth inning to evoke the 10-run differential rule. 

Miles and senior Kaiden Andrews each had three RBI for Beal City.

Di Dio had three hits for Whitmore Lake (22-10), which had advanced to the Semifinals for the first time.

“We just didn’t take care of the little things today,” Whitmore Lake coach Hank Dreffs said. “Couldn’t be prouder of this team. Program history by making it all the way to East Lansing. Hats off to Beal City. They got their small-ball game going against us, and let the ball fly.”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) Riverview Gabriel Richard celebrates Thursday’s Semifinal win with a backflip. (Middle) Beal City congratulates Wade Wilson (20) after he crosses the plate during the second inning.

Longtime Chelsea High School Administrator, Coach Bush to Join MHSAA Staff as Assistant Director

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

December 21, 2022

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.

Brad BushBush, 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.