2017 Milan baseball walkup songs

Songs organized by player’s jersey number

Jaden Riling (No. 1) – “Jump” / Lupe Fiasco (edited version will be played at games)

Antonio Walker (No. 2) – “Danza Kuduro” / Don Omar

Jake Isaacs (No. 3) –

Gage Feeman (No. 4) – “Big Poppa” / Notorious BIG

Chase Riling (No. 5) – “Dopamine Lit” / Lupe Fiasco (edited version will be played at games)

Lucas Schrader (No. 6) – “Fade Away” / Logic

Christian Diaz (No. 7) – “Hall of Fame” / The Script

Jared Grubke (No. 8) – “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy” / Big & Rich

Riley Bergeron (No. 9) – “Smooth” / Florida Georgia Line

Tyler Hall (No. 11) – “Never Gonna Give You Up” / Rick Astley

Justin Beck (No. 12) – “The Show Goes On” / Lupe Fiasco

Josiah Livingston (No. 13) – “Desperados” / Andy Mineo

Denver Jackson (No. 18) – “Manolo” / Trip Lee

Jakob Sawinski (No. 26) – Game of Thrones Theme

Dustin Dapprich (No. 28) – “Enter Sandman” / Metallica (when entering game to pitch)

Cam Straub (No. 30) – “Ray Bands” / B.O.B.

 

2017 Milan varsity baseball roster

No. / Name / Year / Position(s)

1 – Jaden Riling – Jr. – P/IF

2 – Antonio Walker – Jr. – P/UTIL

3 – Jake Isaacs – Jr. – OF

4 – Gage Feeman – Jr. – P/OF

5 – Chase Riling – Sr. – C

6 – Lucas Schrader – Soph. – P/UTIL

7 – Christian Diaz – Jr. – P/1B

8 – Jared Grubke – Sr. – C/3B

9 – Riley Bergeron – Jr. – P/IF

11 – Tyler Hall – Sr. – P/OF

12 – Justin Beck – Soph. – P/1B

13 – Josiah Livingston – Soph. – C/IF

18 – Denver Jackson – Sr. – P/1B

26 – Jakob Sawinski – Jr. – OF

28 – Dustin Dapprich – Soph. – P/OF

30 – Cam Straub – Soph. – P/1B

Reloading Big Red baseball team looks for big things in 2017

The Milan Big Reds varsity baseball team, per their standards and expectations, had a sub-par year in 2016.

Despite having another year over .500 with head coach Adam Gilles leading the way, the team had their worst-ever record under Gilles a season ago, finishing 20-15 and losing in the district semifinals.

The Big Reds head coach, heading into his 16th season, saw last year as an anomaly from most of his teams. “The biggest thing was that we lacked leadership and people buying into the way we’ve always done things,” he said. “They wanted to do things their own way, and that was evident. Having three of our four top pitchers hurt last year didn’t help.”

Ten players have graduated from that squad – including key contributors Jordan Hendricks, Daniel Norzaimi, and Eric Price, among others.

The 2017 team – 16 players strong – returns several players from last year’s team. Among the returners are Justin Beck, Jared Grubke, brothers Chase and Jaden Riling, and Antonio Walker.

Depth-wise, the new ballclub has eight pitchers firmly in the fold, with 10 being a possibility. Gilles also sees catching and the middle infield being strong areas for the new roster, while the weakest area – as has been somewhat of a custom in recent years – is the outfield. Of the 16 players on the roster, 12 are listed as pitchers, while only three are limited to one spot on the field.

The state of Michigan has a new rule in high school baseball in effect this season – a pitch count capped at 105. While not directly related to pitch count issues, the Big Reds have suffered losses to their pitching depth in recent years. Thomas Lindeman was out of the pitching lineup for most of 2015 with a shoulder injury, while Jaden Riling had the same fate last season.

“For that reason [the pitch count] – we’ve got more arms,” Gilles said. “We’re really focused on shoulder injury prevention.”

Gilles is praising his new team for their intelligence on and off the field. “We have a very smart team,” he said. “This is a team that has a 3.5 GPA, which we haven’t had in the last few years. One of my favorite things is that the smarter team is usually a winning team – not just smart academically, but also on the field. We’ve had a lot of smart teams, but in the past, we’ve lacked a little bit of leadership and the ability to buy in to what we try to do.

“So far, this team has bought in.”

The players have a determination to not repeat last year’s mistakes. “A lot of the guys know the system,” Gilles said. “They know what’s supposed to be done, and they were very frustrated last year with some things that happened on the team. They’ve already come through and said, ‘Coach, we just want to take last year and learn from it, and make sure we don’t make those same mistakes.'”

The pitching depth will be led by Jaden Riling and Walker, as well as newcomer Tyler Hall. Walker was a surprise last season, providing unexpected support to the pitching staff and outfield as a sophomore. Hall, a senior who is homeschooled, is playing high school baseball for the first time; he has played travel baseball in the past.

Chase Riling and JV callup Josiah Livingston will be the top two catchers, while the middle infield will be shored up by Riley Bergeron, Jaden Riling, and Walker. Bergeron will be the Big Reds’ starting second baseman; Grubke will maintain his starting spot at 3rd base and be the team’s third catcher, while Beck will be the team’s primary designated hitter.

The team also has several options at first base – Beck, Christian Diaz, Denver Jackson, and Cam Straub.

The outfield, Gilles says, is a question mark after Walker. The plan for the junior is to play shortstop when Jaden Riling pitches, and play in the outfield when neither he nor Riling are on the mound.

“Even after (graduating 10 players), we still have a decent core coming back,” Gilles said. “All these years, I’ve said, ‘Give me five to seven core players, and we’ll find the other three or four. We’ll figure out what they are.’

“Basically, what it comes down to is finding the best defense we’ll be okay with, with the best nine hitters in our lineup. We’ll sacrifice a bit of defense to be able to score a few more runs, if it’s possible. If not, we’ll flip-flop it. It’s all just a trial-and-error thing. That’s why we play so many non-league games.”

The Big Reds finished 8-6 in Huron League play in 2016. The record resulted in the Big Reds being part of a tie for third place.

Gilles figures the top competition this year to be Airport, Jefferson, and SMCC. “It’s going to be like it has the last few years,” he said. “There’s not going to be that one team like it used to be, where you could throw your No. 5 pitcher and you’d be fine. You have to throw your No. 1 or 2 every day. It’s going to be as competitive as ever, and it’s going to be fun.

“I see no reason we shouldn’t be competing for first place in the Huron League. That’s the goal.”

Milan’s schedule begins on March 23 with a single game at Pinckney, following with a doubleheader at Ypsilanti on March 30. Their April slate features only three home dates, including the opener on April 1. May, however, has nine of the 13 days slated with games being at home. Eight of the last nine days in the regular season schedule will be home contests.

“It’s all on purpose,” Gilles said. “Our field is usually the last field to be ready to go. We need our field to dry.

“I like being on the road. I think it relaxes us a little bit more, just getting away from here. It’ll be nice going to Pinckney on Thursday.”

Gilles is also nearing history, as he is six wins away from 350 as Milan’s head coach. He is the all-time win leader in the history of the Big Red baseball program. “It’s kinda cool,” he said. “I want the kids to do well. I want to win championships. In the end, we just want to win games (because) winning’s fun.

“But you’ve got to have selfish goals once in a while. I always said I wanted to get to 300, and I got there a couple years ago. I keep getting good groups of kids, and now I think 400 sounds like a better number.”

Overall, the head coach hopes to continue the string of success that Milan baseball has built in recent years. “A goal is to get to 20 wins,” he said. “Twenty-five sounds even better. We want to win as many as we can. But in the end, I don’t care if we win or lose; we just (need to) play solid baseball and hustle.”

* * *

Coaching staff: Head coach Adam Gilles (16th year, 344-157-4 record), assistant coaches Vaughn Price and Randy Smith

Saying goodbye: 10 seniors graduated from last year’s team – Zach Allen, Dan Armstrong, Brendan Ferenczy, Josh Hall, Jordan Hendricks, Daniel Norzaimi, Jackson Pahle, Eric Price, Jordan Sparks, and Aaron Taylor. Seven of the 10 were significant contributors last year.

Welcome back: Milan has 9 players returning to the squad – Justin Beck (P/1B, Jr.), Riley Bergeron (P/IF, Jr.), Jared Grubke (C/3B, Sr.), Denver Jackson (P/1B, Jr.), Josiah Livingston (C/IF, Soph.), Chase Riling (C, Sr.), Jaden Riling (P/IF, Jr.), Cam Straub (P/1B, Soph.), and Antonio Walker (P/UTIL, Jr.).

Beck, Bergeron, Livingston and Straub split time between the JV and varsity squads last season, while Grubke, Chase Riling, and Walker were played key roles for varsity.

New faces: Milan has seven newcomers to the big club in 2017 – Dustin Dapprich (P/OF, Soph.), Christian Diaz (P/1B, Jr.), Gage Feeman (P/OF, Jr.), Tyler Hall (P/OF, Sr.), Jake Isaacs (OF, Jr.), Jakob Sawinski (OF, Jr.), and Lucas Schrader (P/UTIL, Soph.).

 

2017 Milan baseball schedule

(Updates to the schedule – such as a rescheduled game – will be posted as soon as I receive information, which is not always quickly. Check out my Twitter page or the team’s Gamechanger page for quicker updates)

Black – away  Red – home  Blue – neutral site

March

Thurs 3/23 – @ Pinckney (DH, 4 PM & 6 PM) – L 13-4; W 2-0 (3 inn./darkness) — 1-1 overall

Wed 3/29 – @ Ypsilanti Comm (DH, 4 & 6 PM) – W 13-2; W 10-1 — 3-1 overall

April

Sat 4/1 – @ Ida (DH, noon & 2 PM) — L 8-1; W 7-1 — 4-2 overall

Sat 4/8 – @ Detroit Country Day (DH, 11 AM & 12:30 PM) — L 14-9; L 5-2 — 4-4 overall

Mon 4/10 – @ Airport (4:30 PM, Huron League opener) — L 10-2 — 4-5 ovr, 0-1 HL

Wed 4/12 – vs New Boston Huron (5 PM) — L 2-1 — 4-6 ovr, 0-2 HL

Thurs 4/13 – @ Chelsea (5 PM) — L 5-0 — 4-7 ovr

Tues 4/18 – @ Bedford (4:30 PM) — L 1-0 — 4-8 ovr

Sat 4/22 – vs Belleville (DH, 11 AM & 12:30 PM) — W 3-2; W 5-3 — 6-8 ovr

Wed 4/26 – @ Riverview (DH, 4 & 5:30 PM) — W 5-3; L 4-2 — 7-9 ovr, 1-3 HL

Thurs 4/27 – @ Flat Rock (4:30 PM) — L 4-3 — 7-10 ovr, 1-4 HL

Fri 4/28 – vs Morenci (5:30 PM)

May

Mon 5/1 – @ Grosse Ile (DH, 4 & 5:30 PM)

Wed 5/3 – vs SMCC (DH, 4 & 5:30 PM)

Fri 5/5 – @ Lincoln (DH, 4 & 6 PM)

Mon 5/8 – @ Jefferson (4:30 PM)

Wed 5/10 – vs Airport (4:30 PM)

Fri 5/12 – vs Dundee (4 PM)

Sat 5/13 – vs Ida (DH, 11 AM & 1 PM)

Mon 5/15 – @ New Boston Huron (4:30 PM)

Fri 5/19 – vs Jefferson (4:30 PM)

Sat 5/20 – vs Taylor Kennedy (DH, 11 AM & 1 PM)

Mon 5/22 – vs Flat Rock (4:30 PM)

Wed 5/24 – vs Grosse Ile (DH, 4 & 5:30 PM)

Fri 5/26 – vs Garden City (4:30 PM)

TBD – Districts @ Tecumseh (teams – Adrian, Chelsea, Milan, Tecumseh)

Milan’s season ends in 64-53 regional semi loss to Divine Child

Dearborn Divine Child and Milan had played twice before in the history of the Big Reds’ program before Monday night, with the Falcons being victorious in both contests.

Jeremy Morgan (10) drives to the basket in Milan’s 64-53 loss to Divine Child on Monday night. The senior led the Big Reds with a game-high 23 points. (Photo by Paula Dotson)

Divine Child added one more to the win total against Milan in Monday’s regional semifinal, defeating the Big Reds 64-53.

The Falcons had a height advantage in their starting five, with three players being 6-foot-4 or taller; given that Milan’s tallest player was 6-foot-4 senior Max Milliken, the height difference proved to be a challenge for the hosting Big Reds.

Divine Child’s three leading scorers each had a quarter of dominance. Quinn Blair scored eight of his 16 points in the first quarter, while Jordan Jones scored 12 of his 20 in the second, and Liam Soraghan scored eight of his 17 in the fourth. Blair and Soraghan were the Falcons’ two tallest players, at 6-foot-6 and 6-foot-7 respectively.

The height advantage was something that head coach Andy Dold was aware of beforehand. “Those are our guys,” he said. “We try to get them the ball as much as possible.”

The Falcons, who improve to 16-7 with the win over Milan, have won four of their last five ballgames. “We’ve had some injuries toward the end of the season, but everyone’s coming back,” Dold said. “We won the majority of our games in January. We’re trending upward.”

With three players in double-figures, including the 6-foot-1 Jones, Dold said that it wasn’t a part of the gameplan, just mere coincidence. “Players make plays,” he said. “I imagine, if one guy scores 10 points in a quarter, they’re going to be like, ‘We’ve got to stop this guy.’

“And then the next guy steps up. It’s a nice problem to have.”

Divine Child will face River Rouge (22-1) in the regional final at Milan High on Wednesday. The Panthers advanced with a 55-31 win over Chelsea in the first game on Monday.

Trevor Ballard (0) attempts a layup in Milan’s loss to Divine Child. The junior guard finished with 14 points. (Photo by Paula Dotson)

Dold believes his team will be prepared for the challenge. “We’ve played some very athletic teams,” he said. “We’ll try to work on handling pressure and holding down the two super guards they have.”

Milan head coach Chris Pope accomplished his season goal last week, managing to host a regional game at home. The height advantage that Divine Child had, the third-year head coach said, was simply too much for the Big Reds to handle.

“(They were) too big and too physical,” he said. “It’s as simple as that. We weren’t able to match their height (or their) physicality. They killed us on the offensive glass.

“We didn’t go that deep on the bench – playing only seven or eight guys – and that was a factor. (Divine Child) is a big team, and there’s no doubt about it. I don’t know if we were really prepared to meet their physicality and play that strong for four quarters. We gave up some easy buckets at the end.”

The Big Reds will lose seven of their 13 players to graduation this offseason – including Monday’s leading scorer Jeremy Morgan, who netted a game-high 23 points. Morgan’s Milan career ends with a double-digit scoring streak of eight straight games, three of which were contests of 20 points or more.

“I think we’re young (going forward),” Pope said. “I’ve got some kids coming up from JV that I think will help us. We still have Trevor (Ballard) coming back next year.

“The seniors gave us a great blueprint on what needs to be done next year for the underclassmen. Hopefully those underclassmen understand what the seniors gave us, and try to improve on it.”

The Big Reds rallied back from an 0-5 start to finish the season 15-9. “I don’t care about the wins and losses, just for us to be playing our best basketball at the end of the year,” Pope said. “This year we were able to do that. Those five losses at the beginning of the year helped make us (what we were) at the end. I wouldn’t change that at all.

“These kids gave me everything I asked them for. I wish we had a better showing at home, but give Divine Child credit.”

* * *

In River Rouge’s win over Chelsea, they dominated the 2nd quarter en route to their victory. After opening the game with a 16-6 first-quarter lead, the Panthers outscored the Bulldogs 22-4 in the second quarter. The lead reached a high of 29 points in the 3rd stanza.

Dalante Peterson and Darian Owens-White led the Panther effort, with 20 and 15 points respectively. Bulldog senior Ryan Mitchell led his squad with 15 points.

Like the Big Reds, Chelsea will graduate seven players from their roster.

Big Reds claim district championship with win over Dundee

Friday night was the highlight of the season for Milan Big Reds head coach Chris Pope.

The Big Red players pose with their district championship trophy, following the 61-53 win over Dundee on Friday night.

The hook of winning a district championship and hosting games in regional playoffs was the thing he wanted most in the 2016-17 campaign. His Big Reds accomplished that goal, taking their 25th district title in program history – and fifth since 2010 – with a 61-53 win over the Dundee Vikings.

Milan started out the contest with an aggressive defensive strategy, using a zone defense against Dundee. The inspiration came from a fellow district opponent, Airport’s Ryan Marino. “He came out against us with the triangle-and-two,” Pope said, referring to Thursday’s contest against the Jets, in which Marino used the hybrid defense against Milan. “When I went home last night, I’m saying ‘How can I match Dundee’s offensive sets?’, and I decided to go zone and using a box-and-one on (Dundee guard Brayden Federer). I have to give (Marino) credit, because I was going to go man (against Dundee).”

The Big Reds began Friday with a 6-0 offensive run, using that to take a 15-10 lead at the end of the opening quarter. Their first-half lead reached a high of eight in the 2nd, eventually sustaining a 34-27 edge at the half.

Kenari Moore (right) dribbles down the floor in the 1st half of Milan’s win over Dundee.

The Vikings hung around, however, shrinking Milan’s lead to three at the end of the 3rd; they put the game within one – 49-48 – with 3:51 remaining in the game following a Federer three-pointer. A 24-point performance from the Dundee senior couldn’t lift the Vikings, as a 7-0 run over the next 3:04 gave the Big Reds a 56-48 lead and put the game away.

Jeremy Morgan continued his hot streak of scoring in double-digits, leading the visiting Big Reds with 17 points and extending his double-figure streak to seven consecutive games. Trevor Ballard added 16 for Milan, while Kenari Moore – who had his best game of the season, according to Pope – scored 13.

Moore was especially a defensive standout, contributing to several of Milan’s 19 total turnovers in the game. “This was by far his best game of the year offensively and defensively,” Pope said of his senior guard. “He’s been playing his best basketball at the end of the year. Give that kid credit. I ride (my players) hard, there’s no doubt about it, and he’s taken it and (rolled with) it.”

The Big Reds (15-8) return to the court on Monday against Dearborn Divine Child (15-7). The Falcons won the district that they hosted, defeating Dearborn Heights Robichaud 49-35 in their district title game. Milan and Divine Child have played each other twice in 88 seasons of Big Red basketball, with the Falcons winning both times.

Monday’s schedule in the Big Red gym opens up with a game between Chelsea (15-7) and River Rouge (21-1) at 5:30 p.m. The game between Divine Child and Milan follows at 7 p.m.

 

Defending the Territory

Max Milliken typically has one job on nights he plays in a Milan Big Reds uniform.

Max Milliken (1, far left) – pictured here shooting a three-pointer in Milan’s win over Flat Rock on Jan. 27 – has been one of the Big Reds’ primary defensive players this season. (File photo)

Nearing the end of his second season on the Milan varsity team, Milliken has made a name for himself during this year’s stretch of games. Unlike most of his teammates, however, the senior forward does his job rather quietly.

On occasion, he’ll be mentioned in articles because of his offensive contributions, but more often than not, it’s the numbers that aren’t said where the 6-foot-4 senior shines.

That’s just fine, if you ask him.

Milliken began playing basketball in middle school at South Arbor in seventh grade. Since then, it has been his primary sport. Like some of his Milan teammates, he’s played on travel teams, which he says improved his play.

“I’ve played (against) a lot more athletic (players) in the Detroit area,” he said. “When we come out and play teams like (the ones in the Huron League), I’m used to it. And I hate when people score on me.”

The forward has played in three of his four high school years. He was a member of the JV team in his freshman year and has played on varsity in his junior and senior seasons. He did not play in his sophomore year due to dealing with family matters.

Two seasons removed from the time away, Milliken has crafted his role and shined, also influencing fellow starting teammates Tristen Hines and Kenari Moore. Like Milliken, Hines and Moore have been key contributors on the defensive side of the ball. While Moore – a senior – had some playing time on varsity last year, Hines is a freshman, and Milliken has tried to inspire his fellow defensive stars.

“We always talk to each other (with) what we could do on the floor,” Milliken said. “We usually are always the ones telling the other guys where they should be, who they should be guarding, and stuff like that.”

He has two game-time superstitions – wearing black socks and playing on an empty stomach. The black sock choice goes back to his middle school days. “When I first started playing basketball in 7th grade, my first 3 games were awful,” he said. “I wore white socks for those. I wore black socks (the game after) and scored 25 points, and ever since, I’ve never worn anything else.”

One of three team captains – along with Morgan and Ballard – Milliken sees his own role as a defensive player and team leader. “I’m always talking during the game,” he said. “As a center, you’re always in the back of the defense, so I try to always make sure I’m talking to everybody and telling them what to do. Offensively, I’ll tell (my teammates) when to slow down.”

Milliken is known to rebound off the glass and put up a shot, as seen here in a scoring put-back in Milan’s win over Flat Rock on Feb. 21. (File photo)

Big Reds head coach Chris Pope sees the forward’s role in a similar light. “(I ask him to be) a great low post presence for us, to be a solid rebounder and help defend any bigs the other team has,” the head coach said. “We don’t have a 6-foot-8 kid. Max does a good job filling that role for us.

“(The coaching staff has) asked him to do some things, and once he sees something works for him, he gets more confidence in himself. He’s done a better job this year of being a vocal leader. As a senior, he’s stepped up and he’s been a good teammate to the rest of the guys.”

One of Milliken’s more memorable games this year was the victory over Arbor Prep on Feb. 27, in which he led the team with 20 points and also grabbed 19 rebounds. Pope spoke highly of his performance after the game. “Max played his best game as a player here at Milan,” the head coach said. “He was awesome tonight. He played a hell of a game.”

In the near future, Max will be attending Eastern Michigan University and pursuing an engineering degree. His passion for engineering is in part because of his parents’ jobs, which are also in the field.

Granted that his time in a Milan uniform is going to end soon, Max hopes to be remembered for being a great teammate. In the two years on the varsity squad, he has given his all for the black-and-red.

His one job – to defend his territory – has been a mission throughout his high school basketball career. It is his hope that, in the eyes of his coaches, parents, friends, teammates, and the fans of the program, he has done his job. It normally isn’t Milliken’s place to judge those kinds of things, as he knows he has a single role to play.

When those closest to him reflect on his days playing for Milan, they may just say that it’s mission accomplished.