Tyler Sager isn’t worried about jinxes. He’s worried only about the next hitter.
So, it’s safe to talk about the fact that, after a win Monday against Mount Morris, the Chesaning senior hadn’t allowed a hit since April 11.
Four starts. Four no-hitters.
If not for the incredible success of his own team, that would be the MHSAA record for consecutive no-hitters. The second one, however, came in a 19-0, three-inning win against Durand, and games must go five innings to count for the record books.
“It’s motivating to a point, but at the same time, I can’t go out there every time like I have to throw a no-hitter today,” Sager said. “I’m just going to go out there, throw hard and see what happens. The goal every game is to get through five and set it up for the back-end guys.”
Sager, an honorable mention all-state selection a year ago, is off to a torrid start this spring. He’s thrown 35 innings, allowing four hits and three walks while striking out 92. In his two starts that didn’t end as no-hitters, he struck out 19 and 20 batters.
The MHSAA record for consecutive no-hitters is three, held by six pitchers. Coleman’s Ryan Hasenfratz has the record for most no-hitters in a season at six, which he set in 2005. Three pitchers hold the career mark at eight.
Not including the three-inning no-no, Sager has five career no-hitters, as he threw two as a junior.
“He does a real good job of hitting his spots, and honestly, he’s been able to overpower people here lately,” said Chesaning coach, and Tyler’s dad, Robert Sager. “Being able to hit his spots the way he does really helps, and he’s able to keep hitters off balance a little bit. When he’s able to bust them inside, he’s pretty tough. Then he’s started throwing a slider in there, and that’s really helped him.”
Tyler expected big things from himself coming into the season. But even he’s a bit surprised by this level of success.
“After last year, I was really excited to get back,” he said. “I was honorable mention all-state last year as a pitcher, and we have an all-state wall (at the school), and it’s been one of my goals ever since high school started – my dad (football) and aunt (Melissa Sager, softball) are up there, and I want to be up there with them. So I’ve always had those goals, and I wanted to get better, but I didn’t think I’d start this hot.”
The team is also off to a hot start, going 14-1-1 and allowing a total of three runs over its past six games.
That hasn’t changed the goals for Chesaning, although it may have given the players a bit more confidence to achieve them. Winning a Mid-Michigan Activities Conference title, winning a District title and competing for a Regional championship were always on the board, and remain so.
Tyler Sager admitted that won’t be easy, as perennial contender New Lothrop is in both the conference and the District, and Hemlock as well is in the District. A doubleheader with New Lothrop is scheduled for May 19.
“Coming in, I thought we’d be good,” Tyler said. “We’re really young. The main group of our team, when we were younger, (Robert Sager) was our little league coach, too. He’s kind of always been there coaching-wise for a lot of us. We’ve been pretty hot lately, and it’s been fun. But I can’t say I expected to be 14-1-1.”
After his senior season concludes, Sager will move on to Northwood University, where he has signed to play baseball. And, for the first time, he’ll be able to focus all of his attention on pitching, as he also plays football and basketball for Chesaning.
“Personally, I think (Tyler’s ceiling) is pretty high,” Robert Sager said. “Being a three-sport athlete, he hasn’t been able to only focus on it, so there’s still a lot that he’ll develop and a lot he’ll improve on when he goes to Northwood and they really start working with him on pitching and being a pitcher.”
Tyler Sager is excited for the opportunity, too, but his focus remains on this season. On the next hitter.
“I’ve always kind of thought that if I can only play baseball, that obviously I would get a lot better in the first year or two, just because I haven’t been able to focus on one thing,” he said. “But, honestly, I haven’t thought too much about it yet.”
Paul Costanzo served as a sportswriter at The Port Huron Times Herald from 2006-15, including three years as lead sportswriter, and prior to that as sports editor at the Hillsdale Daily News from 2005-06. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac, Huron, Tuscola, Saginaw, Bay, Arenac, Midland and Gladwin counties.
PHOTOS (Top) Chesaning pitcher Tyler Sager makes his move toward the plate. (Middle) Sager looks in for the sign from his catcher. (Photos courtesy of the Chesaning baseball program.)
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.