Unexpected Eagles Finish Repeat Run

June 15, 2013

By Andy Sneddon
Special to Second Half

BATTLE CREEK – There’s a big difference between a mere thrower and pitcher.

Austin Batka epitomized Saturday what it means to be the latter.

Batka took a no-hitter into the seventh inning before settling for a two-hitter as Grand Rapids Christian held on to beat Richmond, 3-0, in the MHSAA Division 2 championship game at C.O. Brown Stadium.

It was the second consecutive title for the Eagles, who took a markedly different path than in 2012.

Saturday’s win capped a remarkable run for Grand Rapids Christian, which was 6-12 at one point this season and entered the MHSAA tournament 12-15. The Eagles reeled off seven consecutive wins to finish 19-15. They went 36-5 a year ago, and were 30-8 in 2010, when they were the MHSAA runner-up.

“I don’t know if you think that way,” Christian coach Brent Gates said when asked if he was surprised his team found itself back in Battle Creek after the way it started the year. “I knew we had ability, but it was a young team so you really didn’t know what they were going to become.

“What we saw over the course of that (early-to-midseason) time is every practice, the three-hour practices – they wanted to be there, they wanted to get better, and you just saw it become a little bit smoother. We’ve got some good athletes on the team, and they put the work in to get here.”

Batka, a junior left-hander, tamed a Richmond (34-5) team making its first-ever appearance in Battle Creek.

He mixed his breaking ball in effectively enough to keep the Blue Devils on their heels and, more importantly, off the bases. He struck out eight and walked two and at one point set down 11 consecutive Blue Devils.

“I wasn’t necessarily overpowering,” said Batka, who completed a one-week, three-game stretch, including Regional and Quarterfinal victories, during which he allowed a combined five hits. “I’ve been finding my curveball, so I don’t have to throw my fastball as hard.”

Batka’s teammates gave him all the support he would need when cleanup man Tyler Sigler tripled leading off the second inning. He scored on Tyler Boyd’s bunt.

The Eagles used two walks, a hit batsman, a wild pitch, and a fielder’s choice to scratch out another run in the fifth inning. Batka then helped himself when he drove in the game’s third and final run with a sacrifice fly in the sixth.

Though Batka had a three-run cushion – and his no-hitter still intact – to start the seventh, he wasn’t out of the woods.

Ryan Boyd led off the bottom of the final frame with a looping liner to shallow center field to spoil the no-hit bid.

Batka said he didn’t realize the significance of that turn of events until Gates made his way to the mound.

“He told me ‘It doesn’t matter; it’s still going to be a complete game,’ Batka said, “and I looked up at the scoreboard and there’s the ‘1’ on the hit.”

A strikeout, an infield single, a fielder’s choice forceout, and an error left the bases loaded with two out. Batka got the final out on a chopper back to the mound.

“He’s thrown a lot of innings here in the last week,” Gates said. “He’s had three starts in less than a week. He’s a consistent 85-87 (mph) kid with a consistent curveball. He strikes out a lot of kids. Today, he just battled. … He didn’t have probably his best stuff, but he gutted through it. He knows how to pitch.”

Click for a full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Grand Rapids Christian baseball players pile onto the pitcher’s mound and each other after clinching their second straight MHSAA championship. (Middle) Eagles junior Austin Batka threw a complete game to earn the victory.  (Click to see more from Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)

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.