Ace pitcher Porter, lineup of hot hitters lead St. Mary’s to No. 1 ranking

At 6-feet-4 and 205 pounds. Brock Porter presents a fearsome imposing presence on the mound. The St. Mary’s Prep junior has been clocked at 97 miles per hour. In three starts, he’s not allowed a run and three singles with 30 strikeouts. He anchors the 10-0 Eaglets’ pitching staff that has limited opponents to six shutouts, 11 runs and 30 hits with 92 strikeouts. (Photo courtesy of Michel Porter)

ORCHARD LAKE — St. Mary’s Prep is No. 1 again.

The Eaglets occupied the season-long perch this winter atop the state’s high school basketball rankings seemingly on their way to a coveted Division 1 state championship.

Grand Blanc, whom St. Mary’s beat during the regular season, dashed those hopes at the quarterfinal stage of the MHSAA playoffs and went on to win the title.

Two years ago, St. Mary’s baseball team won the Division 2 state championship with high hopes of repeating in 2020. Those aspirations were dashed, too, by a foreboding viral presence that shut down the country from coast to coast.

The virus is very much still with us, but high school spring sports have been reinstated with the approval of the state health department on the condition of regular testing of participants.

The time off appears to have reinvigorated the Eaglets baseball team, which is on a crusade to win again and let all those who dare get in their way beware of dire consequences.

In winning their first 10 games, coach Matt Petry’s crew has shaken the foundation of the Catholic League and any other teams who get in their way. The picture is not pretty for the Eaglets’ opponents, whom St. Mary’s has outscored 139 to 11 and shut out six.

Against CHSL foes, St. Mary’s trounced Novi Detroit Catholic Central 16-0 and 5-0, 15-1 over Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice, a doubleheader by similar scores of 16-0 over Detroit U-D Jesuit, 12-6 against Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett, and the most recent, on April 14, 14-0 and 8-0 over Dearborn Divine Child.

Portage Northern, the defending Division 1 champion in 2019, was overwhelmed 17-2 and 20-2.

St. Mary’s has caught attention on a national scale, ranked as high as No. 6 in the country. They’re the one and only team from Michigan in the polls, qualifying St. Mary’s claim as No. 1 in the state.

The thunderous Eaglets’ offense is hitting .447.

Senior shortstop Alex Mooney leads the attack with a .677 average, 22 runs batted in and six homers. He will be heading to Duke in the fall, but he’ll also be watching the Major League Baseball draft in July. Experts say he’s a first- or second-round pick.

Junior center fielder Jake Dresselhouse, a Michigan State commit, is hitting .457 with 20 RBI and a three grand slams.

Another junior, 6-foot-5 left-handed right fielder Nolan Schubart, a Michigan commit, is batting .407 with 15 RBI.

As sensational as the hitting has been, the crucial factor that could spell the difference in the team’s hopes for another state title is the pitching staff. Petry has called on six different starters in the 10 wins, who collectively have limited opponents to eight runs and 18 hits with 74 strikeouts.

Junior right-hander Brock Porter is the ace of the staff. As a freshman, he pitched the last game the Eaglets played in 2019, the championship title game, allowing one run and six hits in an 8-1 win over Grand Rapids Catholic Central.

He was on the mound for the opener this spring, allowing two hits and striking out 10 in shutting out Catholic Central 5-0. Particularly noteworthy is that he was firing 93 to 95 mph fastballs.

In the game against Divine Child this week, Porter was clocked at 97 mph. In the framework of the CHSL playing a 2-strike, 3-ball format, batters don’t have a lot of time to think. Porter limited the Falcons to no runs and no hits in a game mercifully stopped after five innings with the Eaglets ahead 14-0.

At 6-feet-4 and 205 pounds, Porter is an imposing figure on the mound. Two years ago, his father, Todd, said Brock was of “average height.” He’s put on 50 pounds and about 3 inches since then.

“I’d like to get more meat on my bones,” Brock says, “for more velocity and to avoid injury.” 

Porter attended Holy Spirit grade school in Brighton.

“Brock’s into his faith,” Todd said. “We looked at all the Catholic high schools and chose St. Mary’s because kids go to Mass twice a week. In some of the other schools, they go once a month.”

He’s made a commitment to Clemson. “Brock wants to pitch in the heat. We toured several colleges down South,” Todd said. “I loved Clemson from the start,” Brock says.

Rounding out the other starters are junior Ciaran Caughey, seniors John Essig, Tommy Allman and Jake Keaser, and sophomore Jason Oliver.

Adding in the 27 wins in a row St. Mary’s concluded the 2019 season, the Eaglets are on a 37-game winning streak.

Coach Petry’s challenge is keeping his players on an even keel. The state playoffs aren’t scheduled to begin until June 1.

“It’s a matter of focus,” he says. “Teams aren’t just going to back down. We have to be ready to play every game.”

Contact Don Horkey at [email protected].

Editor’s note: An earlier headline incorrectly identified pitcher Brock Porter as a Major League Baseball draft prospect. As a junior, he is not eligible for this year’s draft.