BASEBALL: Bishop Foley is brimming with talent on the diamond again, in search of history this spring
MADISON HEIGHTS – The makings of a dynasty might be in the works on the baseball diamond at Madison Heights Bishop Foley.
Returning a big chunk of last year’s lineup, the two-time defending Division 3 state-champion Ventures have a very good chance at becoming the first team in MHSAA history to ever three-peat.
Considering the majority of this season’s squad is juniors, a four-peat is not out of the question, either.
Bishop Foley looked razor sharp on Monday, opening the 2013 campaign with a pair of lopsided wins, bombarding Birmingham Groves 18-0 in the morning before walloping Wyandotte Roosevelt 8-1 later that afternoon.
“We have high expectations around here and strive for excellence every time we step foot on the field,” Bishop Foley head coach Buster Sunde said. “This is a team that has a bunch of guys who know what it takes to win ball games. They didn’t waste much time getting to work.”
The high-powered Ventures laced 26 hits on Monday and only allowed two. On the mound, Garrett Schilling, the squad’s ace hurler, went four perfect innings, striking out six in the first game. Last year as a sophomore, Schilling went an unblemished 14-0.
Offensively, seniors Billy Malack and Chad Gravling (5 hits, 3 RBI Monday) are a pair of daunting battery mates at the dish, as is the hard-hitting trio of juniors Brad Baldwin (4 hits, 2 RBI), Mike Murley (3 hits, 4 RBI) and Austin Lukaschewski and standout sophomore Nate Grys, already committed to Western Michigan.
Lukaschewski posted the victory from the rubber in the second game Monday and Grys, a starter at quarterback on the school’s football team since he was a freshman, slugged an RBI triple in the first game, to kick-off his first season with a college scholarship all wrapped up.
Murley came on strong late last year in Bishop Foley’s run to a repeat state title, pitching and hitting wise.
Malak, the Ventures all-league third baseman the last two seasons, takes over behind the plate this year from graduated four-year starting catcher and All-American Brett Sunde, Buster’s son, currently playing at Western Michigan, his dad’s alma mater.
Gravling comes over to Bishop Foley as a transfer for his final year of high school ball from league-rival Riverview Gabriel Richard and will play first base and pitch. He is familiar with many of his new teammates and with Sunde as a coach, having played on Sunde’s summer travel club, the South Oakland A’s, since he was in the sixth grade.
Another transfer that will be a difference-maker in the Ventures’ quest for a third straight state crown – both from the bump and the batter’s box – is junior Mike Reid (University of Detroit-Jesuit).
Thomas Brumfield is a freshman to watch out for.
Sunde-skippered clubs at Bishop Foley have appeared in three consecutive final fours and racked up a 77-6 over the past two years, while raising back-to-back state-title banners.
In his own days on the diamond, Sunde prepped at Madison Heights Lamphere and pitched in college at Western Michigan, before being selected by the Chicago White Sox in the 1982 MLB Draft and playing two years in the minors.