West Michigan Rules Division 1 Semis
June 13, 2019
By Matt Schoch
Special for Second Half
EAST LANSING – Luke McLean looked right at home Thursday at Michigan State’s McLane Baseball Stadium.
The Rockford High School sophomore scored the winning run with aggressive base running, also securing for himself the pitching victory in a 3-2 Division 1 Semifinal against Macomb Dakota in eight innings of steady rain.
“It’s awesome – an awesome atmosphere, an awesome field,” McLean said. “It’s the end (Saturday). We’ve just got to clutch it out at the end.”
Rockford (28-9) will play Portage Northern at 9 a.m. Saturday for its first championship since 2011.
McLean threw two scoreless innings in relief, setting down six straight batters after allowing a leadoff double to Dakota’s Patrick Merolla in the seventh inning.
Junior catcher Jeff Reseigh had two hits to lead the offense for Dakota (21-17-1). Set up by teammate Greg Guzik’s double, Reseigh’s sixth-inning single through the box scored a pair of runs and gave his team a 2-1 lead.
Down late, Rockford coach Matt Vriesenga said he reminded the Rams about their resiliency, as the team already had won two games in the eighth inning during the tournament.
“I saw our guys deflated a little bit. I just wanted to remind them that we’ve been there before,” Vriesenga said. “Three weeks ago, I did not see this happening. We were a good team, but I did not see this happening.
“But they proved me wrong. We’ve been coming to practice, working on the little things all year long.
“It’s a super special team, and I’m really excited for them.”
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Rockford pinch-hitter Isaac Toole hit a two-out single and advanced to second base on a wild pitch. Alex Miller then hit an RBI single to left field to tie the score at 2-2.
Senior catcher Cody Sterkenburg started the game-winning Rockford rally in the eighth with a single. McLean ripped a single to move him to second, and a fielder’s choice on a Miller grounder set up the winning play.
With two outs, junior Owen Cairns hit a dribbler to third base, picked up but thrown wide to first base, dragging the Dakota fielder off the bag as Cairns reached safely.
Meanwhile, McLean alertly headed home to send Rockford to Saturday’s Final.
“All that was going through my mind was my seniors,” McLean said. “I was playing for them. I really wanted to play for them in the state championship, and I was just busting my tail down that line to score.”
Sterkenburg added a two-out RBI single in the third for Rockford, which got a strong starting performance by right-hander Zach Marshall, who threw six innings, allowing two runs and striking out five. Marshall scored on Sterkenburg’s hit after his own single.
For Dakota, righty Matt Biebuyck allowed one run over seven innings and had five strikeouts in the program’s first trip to the Semifinals.
Coach Gerald Carley’s Dakota team, which entered the game winning eight of 11 for an improbable run to East Lansing, will graduate six seniors.
Portage Northern 2, Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice 0
Cam French outdueled travel ball teammate Tyler Sarkisian to advance to the Final.
French threw a complete-game shutout, allowing three hits and no walks, and striking out six in the gem.
“Honestly, the plan was just come in like I have all season, just throwing strikes, filling up the zone and mixing up some of the pitches,” said French, who improved to 11-0 on the season. “With this big of a crowd, and people cheering you on, you just got to stay mentally focused and know what’s at hand. And I did that.”
Shortstop Nolan McCarthy delivered the big hit in the sixth inning with an RBI triple off the wall to score Eastern Michigan-bound Tyler Helgeson, who reached on a bunt. McCarthy then scored on an error.
Meanwhile, McCarthy led the defense behind French, as his diving stab opened the third inning.
Greg Lapetina, Jack Beffel and French added hits for Portage Northern (38-7), which will be playing for its first Finals title in this sport.
Sarkisian, who will pitch at the University of Chicago, allowed one earned run and struck out four over six innings for Brother Rice (25-13).
Sterling Hallman opened the seventh inning with a single for Brother Rice and reached second on a wild pitch. But French got three straight fly outs to center field to close the win.
Brother Rice had just two baserunners reach second base.
Second baseman Tito Flores ended his Brother Rice career with two hits. His coach, Bob Riker, called Flores a “culture changer” for a program. Flores' next stop: University of Michigan, which will play in the College World Series.
As for Portage Northern, the Huskies are back in the Final for the first time since 2015 when they suffered a 2-1 loss to Hartland in 10 innings.
“We feel good to be back here,” French said. “We’ve been waiting a long time.”
PHOTOS: (Top) Rockford’s Luke McLean scores the game-winning run in the Rams’ extra-inning victory over Macomb Dakota on Thursday. (Middle) Cam French fires a pitch during Portage Northern’s shutout of Brother Rice.
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.
Bush, 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.