Taking Them 1 by 1, Chesaning's Sager Stringing Together No-Hitters

By Paul Costanzo
Special for MHSAA.com

May 11, 2022

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.”

Chesaning baseballTyler 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 CostanzoPaul 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.)

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.