Seaholm’s ‘unbreakable bond’ catalyst for OAA-White title, 17-game win streak

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | Birmingham-Bloomfield Eagle | Published May 23, 2023

 Junior Kyle Robbins controls the mound for Seaholm.

Junior Kyle Robbins controls the mound for Seaholm.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

 Birmingham Seaholm junior Jack Kelly takes a lead on the base path during Sehaolm’s game against North Farmington May 11 at Seaholm High School.

Birmingham Seaholm junior Jack Kelly takes a lead on the base path during Sehaolm’s game against North Farmington May 11 at Seaholm High School.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

BIRMINGHAM — What a difference a year makes for Birmingham Seaholm baseball.

After a 2022 season that seemed like a battle week in and week out in the Oakland Activities Association-White Division, for the young Maples’ squad, their dominating 17-game win streak this season has not only launched them into the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 1 rankings (No. 9), but also claim the OAA-White league title in the process.

“They’ve taken it to a level that I did not see this quickly,” Seaholm coach John Toth said. “I saw it at some point, but didn’t think it was going to be right away, but here we are.”

Toth, in his 10th year at Seaholm, has had a front row seat to this evolution of the senior and junior classes this year, as a healthy amount of the starting lineup has played since their freshman and sophomore year on varsity.

Seaholm twins and juniors Colton and Granden Kinnie, who play third base and shortstop, respectively, were the first to make their name on the varsity roster in 2021, and juniors Nick Shenefelt (P) and Kyle Robbins (P) followed suit after being brought up midseason their freshman year.

Now they’re leading Seaholm to an impressive 23-2 record, and Granden Kinnie said the success is in large part to how they were brought up in Toth’s program.

“Freshman and sophomore years, we were raw, like diamonds in the rough, I’d say,” Kinnie said. “He carved us up to where we are this year with him being hard on us.”

The sophomore season was a feeling-out process for the young squad as seven sophomores took the field last season for Seaholm.

Similar to the Detroit Tigers’ lineup this season, Seaholm was letting the young guys find their footing, and they repaid Toth with a hard-fought 18-17 season.

In the process, the team’s chemistry would become the most lethal part of their success this year.

“Definitely an unbreakable bond,” Granden Kinnie said. “Most of the guys we’ve been playing with, we’ve played with since Little League, so 8 years old or 9 years old.”

On the field, the pitching staff has worn opponents down all season with appearances from Shenefelt, Robbins, Granden Kinnie and junior Kai McEachern.

Shenefelt, who is equally as dangerous on the offensive end, has tallied three no-hitters this season en route to an all-State worthy season, while Robbins has been a strikeout maestro this season.

The pitching staff is also lucky enough to have an extra coach on the field in junior Aiden Wolfson behind the dish.

Toth said there’s one component of Shenefelt’s game that stands out to him the most.

“He is one of the most poised kids I’ve ever had,” Toth said. “Nothing phases him, and nothing rattles him.”

Offensively, it’s as top-to-bottom as it gets with Shenefelt, Granden and Colton Kinnie, Robbins, Wolfson, junior Jack Lewis, junior Logan DeVos, and seniors Grant Welch and Jack Hulgrave forefronting the offensive unit.

In 25 games this season, Seaholm has scored 10 or more runs in 11 games, averaging just under nine runs per game.

Toth said the offensive firepower goes back to the team chemistry and accountability.

“If someone doesn’t do something the right way, they get on each other, so I think it was just a maturity thing where, as soon as they figured out how they can play and win, they’ve done it themselves,” Toth said. “It’s top to bottom, one hitter to nine hitter, and it’s guys on our bench; everyone is on the same page.”

Seaholm will open up district play against Southfield A&T baseball June 3 at 10 a.m. at Warriors Park in Troy. The Maples will face the winner of Birmingham Groves and Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice June 3 at 2:30 p.m. at Warriors Park.

Seaholm swept Groves in a two-game set this season, and last played Brother Rice in the 2018-2019 state tournament district finals, losing 11-1. While the Maples look for their first state tournament win since the 2018-2019 season, maybe this group can also be the second team in Seaholm’s history to win an MHSAA Division 1 State Championship since a Don Sackett-led team did it in 1988.

“We’re a very sneaky team,” Granden Kinnie said. “I don’t think everyone expects us to be this good, but we grind out games.”