Unranked GP South Caps 'Magical' Rise

June 16, 2018

By Jason Schmitt
Special for Second Half

EAST LANSING – As soon as he saw the signal to intentionally walk teammate Davis Graham, Grosse Pointe South first baseman Anthony Dermanulian knew he had to buckle down and come through for his team.

With the bases loaded and the MHSAA Division 1 championship game against Brownstown Woodhaven tied 1-1 in the bottom of the third inning, Dermanulian came through in the clutch, drilling a bases-clearing double that gave his team the lead and clear momentum.

“I feel like it was disrespecting me,” said Dermanulian, smiling. “He was assuming I was going to be an easy out. So I stared him down because I knew I was going to kill the ball. That’s what I was thinking, that I was going to get a hit.”

The hit proved to be the difference-maker in South’s 8-1 victory, which gave the Blue Devils – unranked heading into the postseason – their first MHSAA baseball championship since 2001. 

“It was the right thing to do,” South coach Dan Griesbaum said of the intentional walk to Graham. “Graham’s our best hitter, second and third base (occupied), first base open. It was the best thing to do. You had to walk him and let someone else beat you. (Dermanulian) just put a hurt on one. That was the key in the game, right there.”

The three-run cushion was more than enough for South starter Cameron Shook, who went the distance on the mound, scattering seven hits over seven innings while allowing just one earned running and striking out five. Shook, who missed some time this season with a leg injury, came up big in his team’s Quarterfinal victory over Macomb Dakota and again on Saturday.

“It’s been more magical than anything I could ever ask for,” said Shook, who will play college football for Navy in the fall. “We did this, together. There’s no me, there’s no singular person. We as a team accomplished what everyone thought was impossible for us to do.”

South added a pair of runs in both the fourth and sixth innings to ease to the victory. The Blue Devils used a little small ball to score a pair in the fourth. After sophomore Cameron Mallegg reached on an error to begin the inning, senior Conor McKenna had a bunt single. Both moved up a base on senior Steven Cavera’s sacrifice bunt. Mallegg scored on a passed ball and McKenna crossed the plate courtesy of a squeeze bunt by senior Giovanny Lutfy to make it 6-1.

Consecutive hits by McKenna, Cavera and Lutfy, followed by a hit by pitch (of senior Joseph Naporano) and a sacrifice fly by Graham capped off South’s scoring in the sixth.

Woodhaven scored its lone run in the top of the first inning, on a home run by Colin Czajkowski. The junior finished 2 for 3 in the game and also took the loss on the mound after allowing eight runs (but just two earned) in five innings. Senior Alonzo Chavez was 3 for 3 in his team’s loss.

The Warriors (34-6) finished up a historic season on the diamond, having captured the school’s first-ever Regional championship and trip to the Semifinals.

“I’m very proud of (the team), the effort they put into it, the ride they took us all on; it’s been amazing,” Woodhaven coach Corey Farner said. “I told them, win or lose, I’m going to love them no matter what. Some of the bounces didn’t go our way. We didn’t play particularly well, so we didn’t deserve to win today.”

Griesbaum said his team’s playoff run was as impressive as he’s seen in his 35 years on the Blue Devils’ bench.

“We’ve had eight trips to the final four, this was our second title, we were runner-up once,” Griesbaum said, “but I’ve never seen a group play with more confidence than this one.

Click for the full box score.

VIDEO: Anthony Dermanulian clears the bases for Grosse Pointe South with a third inning double.

PHOTOS: (Top) Grosse Pointe South players including Cameron Mallegg (16) and Cody Shook celebrate after Mallegg scores a run Saturday. (Middle) Blue Devils catcher Davis Graham readies to attempt a tag on Woodhaven’s Alonzo Chavez.

No Runs, No Hits: East Jordan Aces Toss 4 Straight Shutouts, 3 Straight No-Hitters

By Tom Spencer
Special for MHSAA.com

May 17, 2024

Playing shortstop this year for East Jordan High School admittedly has become rather boring at times.

Northern Lower PeninsulaThere hasn’t been a whole lot of action at what’s usually the busiest spot in the infield — no matter who is playing it.

Junior Eli Burns knows that better than anyone. He is the Red Devils’ regular shortstop. He also pitches.

Ryder Malpass knows what it’s like to play short this season as well – he’s normally in the spot when Burns is on the mound.

But he also has a feel for how little the shortstop does regularly for the Division 4 No. 16 Red Devils from his usual spot at catcher – receiving behind the plate for a pitching staff averaging almost two strikeouts per inning. 

Just recently, East Jordan put together three straight no-hitters and four straight shutouts.

“It’s good,” Burns said of playing short. “When you have confidence with your pitchers you don’t have to worry about the ball being hit to you that much.”

Ryder Malpass keeps an eye on a runner before making his move toward the plate. Malpass, a junior, started the shoutout string himself with a 4-0 win over Bellaire last week, when he earned the win throwing 5 1/3 innings with seven strikeouts while going 2 for 3 at the plate with a double and RBI. Junior Korbyn Russell closed out the game.

Then Burns started the no-hitter run in the second game that night with Bellaire, a 6-0 Red Devils win. Burns had 10 strikeouts and just a single walk allowed. He also tripled in the game.

This week the no-hitter string continued with 1-0 and 2-0 wins over Boyne City. Russell and senior Lucas Stone threw the Red Devils’ third and fourth no-hitters of the season.

Stone threw a perfect game across six innings. He struck out 12 batters on just 70 pitches and also went 2 for 3 with an RBI against the Ramblers. Russell earned the 1-0 win over Boyne City with 5 1/3 no-hit innings behind 11 strikeouts and with just a lone walk allowed. Stone followed Russell to pick up the save for the Red Devils, now 13-9-1 overall on the season and 6-4 in Lake Michigan Conference play.  

Russell is 6-2 on the season with two saves. Going into Thursday’s game with Charlevoix, he had struck out 92 batters over 42 innings while compiling a 0.86 ERA. Stone is 5-2. Before suffering his second loss of the season to the Rayders, his ERA was 1.17 and he had fanned 38 in 36 innings of work. Burns has racked up 17 strikeouts so far in just over 14 innings.

“It’s pretty special to be a part of something not many teams can do,” Russell said. “We have a special group of pitchers to get the job done.”

Stone credits the Red Devils’ defensive play for the pitching staff’s success.

“Our defense has helped the pitching a lot because they don’t make a lot of errors,” Stone said.  “It makes it a lot easier when you know they are going to make plays behind you.”

Korbyn Russell prepares to unload a pitch.East Jordan came into this week beginning to approach the state records for consecutive shutout innings and games. That ended yesterday in twin bill losses to Division 3 No. 11 Charlevoix. But the Red Devils still can chase the national record of nine no-hit games in a season. (No official record is kept for no-hitters by a Michigan high school team in a season.)

There is also no known record of any East Jordan team racking up three no-hitter wins in a row.

“I don’t think there’s been any stretch with three no-hitters in a row, so that is pretty special,” noted East Jordan coach Adam Grybauskas. “We’re kind of picking up where things were last year and trying to build on last year’s success and make it even better this year.”

The Red Devils captured a Division 4 District championship in 2023 and then a 9-6 Regional Semifinal win over Gaylord St. Mary. The season came to an end in the Regional Final with a 2-0 loss to Painsdale Jeffers.

Russel, Stones and Burns were on the pitching staff last year as East Jordan made that run. The Red Devils will host the District tournament this year as familiar opponents Bellaire, Central Lake and Ellsworth will vie to stop East Jordan’s attempt at repeating as champion. The doubleheader loss to undefeated Charlevoix ended the Red Devils’ hopes of sharing the LMC title with the Rayders.

“I think we’ve played a little bit better competition this year,’ Grybauskas said.  “Our focus this year is taking each doubleheader at a time, and try to get better each week.

“It’s really been game by game and week to week,” he continued. “You’re always looking to do better than last year so obviously that will be something we’ll talk about in the future.”

Tom SpencerTom Spencer is a longtime MHSAA-registered basketball and soccer official, and former softball and baseball official, and he also has coached in the northern Lower Peninsula area. He previously has written for the Saginaw News, Bay County Sports Page and Midland Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Alcona, Oscoda, Crawford, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties.

PHOTOS (Top) East Jordan’s Lucas Stone winds up during a game. (Middle) Ryder Malpass keeps an eye on a runner before making his move toward the plate. (Below) Korbyn Russell prepares to unload a pitch. (Photos courtesy of the East Jordan athletic department.)