East Lansing – Ethan Hoffman was ready for the biggest game of his life Friday morning at Kobs Field.
He made the most of that opportunity, leading Madison Heights Bishop Foley to a 3-2 victory over Caro in a Division 3 state semifinal.
Hoffman, a senior left-hander, carried a 3-0 no-hitter into the sixth inning before giving up a leadoff triple, opening the door for a two-run rally by Caro to make things interesting.
However, Hoffman retired Caro (15-22) in order in the seventh to put Bishop Foley (24-12) into Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. state championship game for the first time since 2013, when it won its third straight Division 3 state title.
Bishop Foley will play in the championship game against the winner of the Schoolcraft-Traverse City St. Francis semifinal.
“This is all new for me as a coach and for them as players since they hadn’t passed regionals, so we’re going to attack the game tomorrow,” said 24-year-old second-year coach Bishop Foley coach Greg Fettes, who played college ball at Kentucky before getting drafted in the 28th round by the Oakland A’s.
Fettes huddled up with Hoffman Thursday night and gave him words of encouragement.
“Just calming him down," said Fettes of Hoffman, whose fastball reaches 90 mph. "I told him if you pound the zone you’re going to be fine, you’ll be the guy."
Hoffman (6-3, 2.10 ERA) did just that, striking out 11, including the side in the fourth. He retired the final batter he faced with a strikeout to start the celebration.
Bishop Foley scored a run in the opening inning on Evan Finegan’s RBI single, then a run in the second on an error, followed by a run in the fifth on an RBI single off the bat of Justin Campbell.
Campbell, a 6-foot-4 senior, is expected to take the mound for Saturday’s title game.
But it was Hoffman who was the hero for Bishop Foley in the semifinal.
“Everything was working,” said Hoffman, who transferred this year from Detroit Catholic Central. “I established my fastball and they were having trouble catching up with it. It was pretty nerve-racking when they got two runs on me, but I knew to just stay calm and just not let it get to me.
“It felt great to kind of prove it to them that I could come back in that seventh after they made the game closer.”
Caro kept the game close when it picked off Bishop Foley runners at second in the first inning to end one threat, plus a runner off third to prevent another run from scoring in the fifth.
In Caro's sixth, No. 8 hitter Dylan Brown tripled over the right fielder’s head, then scored on a squeeze bunt by Conner Langenburg, who went on to score on an error after Bishop Foley attempted to pick him off third.
Northville 9, Grand Haven 1
Saline 12, Grosse Pointe Liggett 0
Final: Saturday, 9 a.m.
Stevensville Lakeshore 7, Chelsea 1
Bay City John Glenn 15, Dearborn Divine Child 4
Final: Saturday, 11:30 a.m.
Madison Heights Bishop Foley 3, Caro 2
Traverse City St. Francis 3, Schoolcraft 2 (8 inn.)
Final: Saturday, 2:30 p.m.
Portland St. Patrick 12, Unionville-Sebewaing 8
Hudson 6, Gaylord St. Mary 4
Final: Saturday, 5 p.m.