This Time, It's Saline's Time to Top D1

June 17, 2017

By Andy Sneddon
Special for Second Half

EAST LANSING – Five times, Scott Theisen had brought a team to an MHSAA championship game. 

Five times, his Saline Hornets had come up empty.

But Saturday, appearing in its sixth Final, Saline jumped to a 3-0 lead in the first inning and made it stand up to claim its first MHSAA baseball championship with a 5-2 victory over Northville at Michigan State’s McLane Baseball Stadium.

“It means the world, not only to me but all the other guys who have been here and gotten so close so many times,” said Theisen, who is in his 25th season at Saline and led the Hornets to Division 1 runner-up finishes in 1998, 2008-10, and 2016. “This one is in the books for everybody. It’s hard to describe how I feel.”

Theisen used four pitchers – starter Danny Weidmayer followed by Paul Kiyabu, Kellan Huang and Tyler Zmich – to hold in check the Mustangs (30-11).

None was overpowering – they surrendered a combined 10 hits and Northville stranded 10 base runners – but they threw strikes and benefited from three double plays turned behind them.

“They threw OK compared to how they’ve thrown all year,” Theisen said. “It’s a tough situation out there with the stakes so high and the zone was moving and it was tight at times. They just kept working and kept pumping strikes and didn’t let the wheels fall off.”

The Hornets (39-3) loaded the bases in the first inning with a single, a walk and a bunt. Two runs were forced in by walks, and Huang hit a sacrifice fly for a 3-0 lead.

Ryan Foley led off the Saline second inning with a double, stole third and scored on a wild pitch to extend the lead to 4-0. He finished with three hits including two doubles.

“We’ve been working so hard for this state title,” said Foley, a senior outfielder and one of seven starters who returned from the Hornets squad that fell, 7-6, in  the 2016 title game to Warren DeLaSalle. “To get one for coach T, it means so much to this community. Even when we were 8 or 9 years old, we had a goal and that was to get a state title at the high school level.

“We came up short last year, and that crushed us. We kept our composure (this year) and I think it helped having had so many guys who played in the state title game (last year).”

Kiyabu, who relieved Weidmayer, picked up the victory. Zmich worked the final two innings for the save, entering with two on and none out in the sixth inning and inducing two groundballs, one of which went for a double play.

It was the first Finals appearance for Northville, which got three hits from Aram Shahrigian and two each from Nick Prystash and Alex Garbacik.

“I think ultimately it was the first inning, nerves and jitters, and the double plays we hit into,” Northville coach Mike Kostrzewa said. “We had 10 hits and two runs; that’s not going to happen very often. Credit them for making the plays. We had squandered opportunities, and really a bad first inning.”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Saline celebrates its first MHSAA baseball championship Saturday at McLane Stadium. (Middle) The Hornets score one of their five runs.

For Coach: Powers Completes 1st Title Run for 42-Year Leader Dutkowski

By Keith Dunlap
Special for

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.