(File photo) Vassar’s Steven Hecht pitches against USA.

By ADAM SMITH

Sports Editor

It was a two thumbs up kind of baseball season in the Greater Thumb West this year, with a carryover effect on the 2018 All-Advertiser team. The only thing missing was more thumbs.

Thumbs one and two are reserved for the accolades of both Vassar and Unionville-Sebewaing Area, who were in decidedly different positions when the postseason rolled around.

Vassar had just won the league title outright, sweeping its doubleheader with the Patriots along the way. USA was coming off sharing the 2017 league championship with Reese and also its first Division 4 semifinal appearance, but struggled to recapture its form from the previous season along the way to a 4-6 league finish that fell short of expectations.

USA coach Tyler Bader credits the strength of the conference and adversity the Patriots faced within league play among the key reasons why they were able to flip a switch in the postseason and, ultimately, play on to the Division 4 state finals for the first time, going one step further than they did the previous year. For USA, competing against bigger conference schools among the Division 3 ranks during the regular season can lead to some difficult stretches that become a badge of honor to persevere through come playoff time.

Coaches of the local GTC West teams can agree on one thing: USA’s regular-season slump on the heels of a 7-1 start had more to do with the league competition it was facing than any significant issues plaguing the Patriots

Vassar coach Jason Hahn was previously an assistant to Bader at USA before later taking over as head coach of the Vulcans in 2017. The two men remain good friends to this day, and their good-natured game of one-upsmanship escalated to some pretty significant stakes, with Vassar winning the league followed by a Division 3 district title and USA dusting itself off after the setback and proceeding to win its first six postseason games.

On the all-area first team roster for USA are seniors Cooper Kauffold, Brendan Prime and Hunter Bohn. First-team representatives for the Vulcans are seniors Steven Hecht and Collin Bowden.

Cass City had as much say in the final outcome of the GTC West as any team, but losses to Reese and Laker High thwarted its bid for the title. However, as was the case with both Vassar and USA, the Red Hawks were battle tested in time for the playoffs and put those lessons that were learned to good use by winning a Division 3 district title.

Making the all-area first team from Cass City are junior Luke Stern and sophomore Kendall Anthes.

Not to be forgotten for the impact it had on the final GTC West standings, Reese swept a doubleheader from Cass City to give Vassar the outright league title despite the Vulcans having been swept by the Red Hawks to account for their lone league losses. A walk-off hit by all-area first-teamer Tony Wark made it all possible for the Rockets.

While the Tri-Valley East didn’t see the same type of team success as the GTC West in terms of winning a district or more, there were a few of its players that’d be a welcome addition to any team, as seniors Steven Strachan of Caro, Lukas Selich of Millington and Austin Johnson of Frankenmuth highlighted their respective teams’ efforts this year.

Selich leaves Millington as one of its most decorated athletes in both baseball and football.

He holds five offensive school baseball records: single-season doubles (15 this year), single-season RBIs (46 in 2017), single-season hit-by-pitches (11 this year), career hits (124) and career RBIs (84). He’s also second in program history in single-season batting average (.535 in 2017), single-season hit-by-pitches (10 in 2017), career batting average (.434), career doubles (39) and career hit-by-pitches.

Strachan allowed just three earned runs from the pitcher’s mound all season for the Tigers, and Johnson was a dual-threat for the Eagles who was as equally adept with the bat as he was when called on to pitch.

2018 All-Advertiser Baseball

First Team

Name: Cooper Kauffold

School: USA

Grade: 12

Position: C

Stats: Hit .404 with a .537 on-base percentage; 13 doubles, 23 RBIs, 21 runs scored

College: Alma College (baseball)

Coach Tyler Bader: “He was the backbone of our team as a four-year catcher for me. He was the power bat in our lineup, and had over 40 hits in each of his last two years while finishing top two on the team in RBIs. He’s one of those guys you’ve really got to worry about as a pitcher.”

Hunter Bohn

School: USA

Grade: 12

Position: SS/P

Stats: Hit .328 with a .423 on-base percentage; nine doubles, 13 RBIs, 26 runs scored and nine stolen bases; 4-2 over 41 1/3 innings pitched with a 3.22 ERA, 43 strikeouts and nine walks

Coach Tyler Bader: “A kid that I loved having on the team, he was lightning in a bottle. He’s going to make big plays in key moments for you. He set the tone for us as our leadoff guy with good speed and athleticism. He was great for us when called on to pitch. On some teams, he could’ve been a number one or number two pitcher.”

Name: Brendan Prime

School: USA

Grade: 12

Position: P/CF

Stats: Went 7-4 in 77 1/3 innings pitched with a 1.54 ERA, 121 strikeouts and 33 walks

College: Mott Community College (baseball)

Coach Tyler Bader: “He was our power arm and anchored our pitching staff this year. He built off what were some great numbers for him last year and got stronger as the season went on. He hit his stride at the right time of the season and it helped us out a lot.”

Name: Steven Hecht

School: Vassar

Grade: 12

Position: P/SS

Stats: Went 10-4 over 72 innings pitched with a 1.35 ERA, 125 strikeouts and 23 walks; hit .456 with a .544 on-base percentage; 12 doubles, two triples, 22 RBIs, 38 runs scored and 14 stolen bases

Coach Jason Hahn: “We knew coming into this season that Steve was going to be a big part of our success, both pitching and offensively, and we had those same expectations of him last year. To Steven’s credit, he handled all that pressure and had a heck of a season for us. There aren’t many (high-school) players who can strike out over 100 people and hit over .450; those are amazing stats.”

Name: Collin Bowden

School: Vassar

Grade: 12

Position: OF/1B

Stats: Hit .390 with a .430 on-base percentage; nine doubles, three triples, a homer, 27 RBIs, 26 runs scored and 16 stolen bases

Coach Jason Hahn: “He’s a kid with a tremendous work ethic that the hard work’s really paid off for over the years. His bat really came along this year. Against both USA and Bay City Central this year, those teams chose to intentionally walk Steven Hecht to pitch to Collin with runners on base, and he came up with a clutch double in both situations. He thrives in those pressure situations.”

Name: Steven Strachan

School: Caro

Grade: 12

Position: P

Stats: 9-1 with one save in 45 innings pitched; allowed just three earned runs this season, good for a 0.47 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 16 walks

College: Hillsdale (baseball)

Coach Victor Gomez: “Steven was a team leader and a force on the mound for us this season. He’s the type of player who always gives his all and leaves everything out on the field. It was a pleasure having him be a part of the Caro baseball program.”

Kendall Anthes

School: Cass City

Grade: 10

Position: P

Stats: Went 5-0 over 38 innings with a 2.00 ERA, 57 strikeouts and nine walks; hit .318

Coach Josh Stern: “Kendall was our ace. When he’s on the mound for us, we know we’ve got a great chance to win. The effort he puts into baseball is impressive.”

Name: Luke Stern

School: Cass City

Grade: 11

Position: C

Stats: Hit .533 with 12 doubles, a triple, two homers, 19 RBIs, 28 runs scored and 11 stolen bases

Coach Josh Stern: “Luke was our leader. He came through for us in so many situations and did whatever we needed him to do. He is a great combination of power and speed at the plate.”

Name: Lukas Selich

School: Millington

Grade: 12

Position: C

Stats: Hit .466 with a .598 on-base percentage; 15 doubles, a triple, 17 RBIs, 27 runs scored and 10 stolen bases

College: Cleary University (baseball)

Coach Chris Dipzinski: “Lukas was a four-year starter for us. His bat is the reason we brought him up as a freshman; he led the team in hitting that year and has continued to hit since. He never gives in at the plate, and always looks for his pitch. His shoes will be hard to fill next year. I wish him all the luck as he transitions on to college ball.”

Name: Tony Wark

School: Reese

Grade: 12

Position: 1B/P

Stats: Hit .429 with a .460 on-base percentage; 13 RBIs and 12 runs scored

Coach Jacob Purman: “Tony was a phenomenal leader for us this season. He led the team with his bat, coming up big in key situations for us, including a walk-off against Cass City in a big conference battle. He also did a great job defensively for us at first base. He’s the type of player every coach wants to have on his team.”

Name: Austin Johnson

School: Frankenmuth

Grade: 12

Position: 1B/P

Stats: Hit .425 with five doubles, a triple, 33 RBIs, 21 runs scored and 13 stolen bases; 5-1 as a pitcher with a 3.11 ERA

Coach Gordon Culver: “Coming off a junior year that had some rough patches, Austin stepped up to not only be an offensive leader, but one of our most competitive and focused players. By the end of the season, he was one of the guys I knew would step up in big situations and help lead us to victory.”

Second Team

Garrett Gawne, Vassar

Addison Hansard, Vassar

Zack Beecher, Cass City

Kenton Wiseman, Cass City

Adam Fisher, Reese

Tommy Papesh, Reese

Hunter James, Kingston

Austin Ahern, Kingston

Devin Riskey, USA

Zach Freier, Frankenmuth

Kohlton Sherman, Millington

All-state baseball

Division 3

Second Team

Steven Hecht, Vassar

Lukas Selich, Millington

Division 4

Coach of the Year: Tyler Bader, USA

First Team

Cooper Kauffold, USA

Second Team

Brendan Prime, USA

Tri-Valley East

First Team

Ryan Thomas, Essexville Garber

Steven Strachan, Caro

Lukas Selich, Millington

Andrew Kazmierski, Essexville Garber

Spencer Mahar, Essexville Garber

Parker Jatczak, Essexville Garber

Jacob Cornman, Birch Run

Cole Hill, Millington

Charlie Newton, Essexville Garber

Drew Germain, Millington

Chandler Russell, North Branch

Kohlton Sherman, Millington

Second Team

Trevor Beck, Birch Run

Chase Gruno, Birch Run

Grant Goodchild, Caro

Tony Arnold, Birch Run

Conner Campbell, Frankenmuth

Austin Johnson, Frankenmuth

Colton Maher, North Branch

Gerid Harrell, Essexville Garber

Syrus Strachan, Caro

Greater Thumb West

First Team

Steven Hecht, Vassar

Kendall Anthes, Cass City

Cooper Kauffold, USA

Sandyn Cuthrell, Cass City

Brennan Wissner, Laker High

Vincent Blackstock, Bad Axe

Tony Wark, Reese

Ethan Dunham, Vassar

Andrew Siegfried, Laker High

Jalen Gangler, USA

Adam Fisher, Reese

Second Team

Garrett Gawne, Vassar

Brendan Prime, USA

Luke Stern, Cass City

Addison Hansard, Vassar

Gabe Robinson, Reese

Myles Geiger, USA

Michael Erla, Bad Axe

Zack Beecher, Cass City

Tommy Papesh, Reese

Michael Sheridan, Reese

Hunter Bohn, USA

Jason Errer, Bad Axe

Greater Thumb East

First Team

Ryan Sweeney, Ubly

Grant Hansen, Harbor Beach

Ben Blanco, Memphis

Anthony Sweeney, Ubly

Kurtis Hansen, Harbor Beach

Brendan Shedd, Harbor Beach

Cam Walsh, Memphis

Jesse Bischer, Harbor Beach

Tyler Jones, Ubly

Austin Roberts, Harbor Beach

James Schelke, Harbor Beach

Casey Sweeney, Ubly

Zack Hollers, Memphis

Second Team

Andrew Geiger, Brown City

Alex Heussner, Marlette

Garrison Booms, Harbor Beach

Ethan Lemke, Ubly

Marcus Armstrong, Marlette

Ryan Campbell, Sandusky

Gavin Woods, Brown City

Skyler Lesoski, Ubly

Dawson Stier, Memphis

Cody Hoag, Sandusky

Sean Quade, Marlette

North Central Thumb Stars

First Team

Zac Ostrowski, Deckerville

Jared Czape, Dryden

Hunter Gall, Dryden

John DelCampo, Dryden

Kenton Bowerman, Deckerville

Wyatt Janowiak, Deckerville

Brendan Kreiner, Deckerville

John Hoody, North Huron

Zac Ostrowski, Deckerville

Brandon Berry, North Huron

Ethan Rozanski, Dryden

Hunter James, Kingston

Second Team

Aaron Inda, North Huron

Nate Dawson, Mayville

Aaron Inda, North Huron

Austin Ahern, Kingston

Brady Czape, Dryden

Nate Dawson, Mayville

Jared Czape, Dryden

Jeffrey Stone, Deckerville

Connor Lamont, Deckerville

North Central Thumb Stripes

First Team

Nolan Sarnac, Peck

Cameron McAfee, CPS

Cody Babcock, Peck

John VanSumeron, All Saints

Nolan Sarnac, Peck

Matt Fritz, Owendale-Gagetown

Alex Czyzewski, All Saints

Aaron Booth, Peck

Tatton Sarnac, Peck

Ryan Grekowicz, All Saints

Ben Short, All Saints

Connor Sawyer, CPS

Second Team

Aaron Booth, Peck

Ryan Grekowicz, All Saints

Grant Gehringer, All Saints

Luke Retford, Owendale-Gagetown

Aaron Fahrner, Owendale-Gagetown

Nick Kontes, All Saints

Jesse Demaray, Peck

Tyler Ducolon, All Saints

Share