Division 1 Team Of The Week: Week 6 - Orchard Lake St. Mary's

Bruce Hefflinger and Dylan Hefflinger
PBR Michigan Senior Writer and Editor in Chief/Scout


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Division 1 Team Of The Week: Week 6 - Orchard Lake St. Mary's

WEST BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP - Eight home runs in the season opener was a sign of what was to come this high school baseball season at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s. 

A season sweep of Liggett was completed on Saturday following a pair of no-hitters on Wednesday against Detroit Jesuit, moving the Prep Baseball Report Division 1 Team of the Week to 25-0 on the campaign.

“What I’m most impressed with is we’re winning games in a variety of different ways,” pointed out Orchard Lake head coach Matt Petry. “We outslug some teams and we’ve won tight 1-0 and 2-0 games. When you win in a variety of ways it doesn’t put too much pressure on.”

The defending Division 2 state champions, with seven of nine starters back, have not missed a beat while moving up to Division 1 this season.

Orchard Lake now has six no-hitters this season, including all four games against Detroit Jesuit. Both no-no performances this past week were combined efforts during 17-1 and 8-0 wins. Brock Porter fanned 15 in six innings and sophomore Parker Brzustewicz struck out 10 in five frames before each had relief help.

On offense, the top-rated team in the state has a .356 team batting average with 39 home runs on the season.

“It’s a good combo,” noted Petry. “Our pitchers put us in a good position to win every time out. They throw strikes and don’t walk a lot. That takes pressure off the defense. Offensively, we have the capability to hit the long ball but we can play small ball if needed.”

Perfect example came against Liggett when Porter hit two home runs in a 13-2 game-one win before coming back with two sacrifice bunts in a 7-4 victory in the nightcap.

“That shows what our team is all about,” Petry said.

The numbers on the mound are astounding starting with Porter, the top-rated senior in the country who is 4-0 with a 0.25 ERA. In 28 innings, the Clemson commit has allowed one earned run on two hits with 62 strikeouts and 10 walks.

Kent State commit Ciaran Caughey is 5-0 with a 0.58 ERA, throwing 24 innings with 38 Ks while permitting 12 walks and 10 hits. Brzustewicz is 5-0 in 20 innings on the mound, allowing four hits and eight free passes while fanning 41 and posting a 0.70 ERA. Nolan Higgins, a Lansing Community College recruit, is 3-0 with one save, recording a 0.63 ERA with 33 strikeouts in 22.1 innings of work, giving up eight hits and 10 base on balls.

More depth comes from sophomore Aidan Donovan who is 4-0 with a 0.81 ERA, throwing 17.1 innings and giving up five walks while striking out 17.

“We’ve thrown 12 pitchers,” pointed out Petry, whose team has a 0.86 ERA.

At the plate, Nolan Schubert, a Michigan commit who plays right field, and Ike Irish each have eight home runs with Jake Dresselhouse and Blake Grimmer hitting six long balls apiece. Dresselhouse, a center fielder committed to Michigan State, tops the team in runs with 31 while shortstop Jasen Oliver, a Michigan recruit, leads in RBIs with 29.

Jack Crighton, a third baseman going to Michigan, has the high average at .448 with Grimmer, a first baseman committed to Tennessee, at .436. Ryan McKay, a second baseman going to Michigan State, is at .429 with Irish, an Auburn signee who catches, averaging .424.

In sweeping four games from Liggett, the defending Division 3 state champions, Orchard Lake used home runs from Grimmer and Ryan Mooney, a Notre Dame commit, to break a 3-3 deadlock.

“That’s a super talented lineup with four good arms to throw at you,” Petry said of Liggett. “It’s encouraging that we were down in both games and came back. It was 2-0 in the top of the first and we answered with two in the bottom of the first in the opener. Then we were down 3-1 in the top of third in game two and got two in the bottom of the third and never looked back.

“Getting on teams is a staple for us but this showed a lot about the team doing this against a high-quality opponent and finding a way.”

A target on the back is no big deal according to Petry.

“We’ve been in situations the past couple of years where we see everybody’s best pitcher,” Petry explained. “Our kids embrace that challenge. There’s no pressure to go undefeated, just win the game at hand and move on to the next.”

The pitching has been a pleasant surprise according to the Orchard Lake head coach.

“I’m most impressed that we graduated 75 percent of our innings and are doing this,” Petry said. “I was looking for guys to step up into higher roles than in previous years and Ciearan, Parker and Nolan have stepped into the rotation and been outstanding.”

The schedule never gets easy, with two against Brother Rice on Wednesday followed by Edison on Friday and DeLaSalle for a doubleheader on Saturday.

“It’s all about staying focused,” Petry concluded. “We want to win and expect to win every game. We’re going to see the other team’s best effort, it’s about continually getting up and staying motivated for every opponent.”

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