High-powered, mightily talented St. Mary’s repeats as state baseball champion

It was an incredible spring for the St. Mary’s baseball team. Ranked the best in the state in pre-season polls, the Eaglets’ 43-1 record and repeat state championship rated them No. 1 in the country at season’s end. The coaching staff enjoys the fun: assistant ex-Detroit Tigers pitcher Dan Petry (far left), coach Matt Petry, and assistants Theo Piccirilli and Brian Sakowski. (Wright Wilson | Special to Detroit Catholic)

EAST LANSING — “They know what they have to do.”

It took them three innings before they did what they knew how to do — and what everyone was anticipating they would do — to lay claim to the MHSAA Division 2 baseball championship for the second year in a row (spanning the COVID-stricken 2020 season).

The Eaglets of Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Prep erupted for six runs in the fourth inning and three in the sixth en route to a 9-0 decision against Stevensville Lakeshore last Saturday afternoon at McLane Stadium on the Michigan State campus.

The championship is the school’s third in the last six years (also in 2019 and 2015) and fifth overall in history (also in 2003 and 1998).

“I don’t have to say too much to these guys,” says Matt Petry, in his 11th year at the helm (295-143-1). “They are very self-motivated. The seniors and the captains do a great job. I never address the team before the game or anything like that. Rarely will I say something to the whole group. They know what they have to do.”

Before the first pitch was thrown in March, St. Mary’s was heralded the No. 1 high school baseball team in the state. At season’s end, that distinction was extended to cover the country by the respected baseball publication, Collegiate Baseball, a ranking no other team from Michigan has received in the paper’s polls dating back to 1977.

In addition, Petry has been named the “National Coach of the Year.”

The Eaglets record of 43-1 matches four other teams in the state’s history, according to the MHSAA, including two Catholic League squads, Ann Arbor Fr. Gabriel Richard in 2010 and Harper Woods Bishop Gallagher in 1985. Only a mid-season 2-1 loss to Saline prevented St. Mary’s from a record-setting 44-win total.

The Eaglets were merciless in their dealings with CHSL teams, 25-0, including 13 shutouts. They also weren’t too benevolent to non-CHSL teams, 18-1. They outscored opponents 480-76, smacked 60 home runs and collected 451 hits for a team batting average of .395.

The 10-member pitching staff struck out 438 batters and walked 100 in 259 innings, compiled a stingy 1.63 ERA, and limited opposing batters to a paltry .126 average.

What draws the spotlight to St. Mary’s and sparks the interest of scouts is that half of the 23-player roster has signed on or committed to pursuing baseball in college, overwhelmingly at Division 1 institutions.

Getting the most attention is senior shortstop Alex Mooney (.508 average, 11 home runs, 61 RBI), who is committed to Duke but is waiting for the major league draft in July.

He singled in two runs, scored twice, and stole three bases among 11 the team pilfered in the championship game to set a new MHSAA final record.

Other seniors who have finalized their college choices: pitcher Jake Keaser (0.32 ERA, 50 strikeouts in 28 innings) to Michigan; righthander Tommy Allman, who pitched the championship game (11-0, 1.62 ERA, 89 Ks in 40 innings) to Jacksonville University; outfielder Ben Martin to Butler; twins John Essig (5-0, 78 Ks, 2.90 ERA) and catcher Steve Essig, both to Ashland College; and catcher Coleson Titus (.337, 33 RBI) to West Point, a similar path taken by his brother Drake, who was a 2016 OLSM grad and second baseman on the Eaglets 2015 state champs.

Juniors who’ve revealed commitments include centerfielder Jake Dresselhouse (.454, team-leading 63 RBI and 17 homers) to Michigan State, outfielder-first baseman Nolan Schubart (.372, 7 homers, 53 RBI) to Michigan; infielder Jack Crighton (.464, 37 RBI) to Michigan; and first baseman-catcher Ike Irish (.525, 12 homers, 56 RBI) to Auburn.

Another headliner is junior righthander Brock Porter, who has committed his 6-foot-4, 205-pound fire-balling frame to Clemson. He had a 12-0 record, 125 strikeouts in 62 innings, and an .087 ERA.

Sophomore outfielder Ryan Mooney, Alex’s brother, has made his intentions known early to attend Notre Dame.

“Typically, when you put a lot of good players together, sometimes they get lazy,” Travis Titus, father of Coleson Titus, observed while watching the post-game celebration. “This team didn’t get lazy. They pushed each other. They continued to harp on each other. That made for a good season.”

Athletic director George Porritt summed up the formula for the Eaglets’ success.

“This has been an incredible year. It’s been a combination of things. You have a coach who’s had his team very well prepared. The kids get committed to the program. Coach Petry has got a great tradition going now at St. Mary’s. It’s been fun for the fans, administrators, the teaching staff.

“Baseball is the oldest sport at St. Mary’s. This is a big boost for the program.”

Contact Don Horkey at [email protected].