The Rockford varsity baseball team split a pair of non-league games on Saturday, May 22. In the opener, they beat Ogema Heights 4-0 behind a solid pitching performance by junior lefty Joe Kropiewnicki. Mt. Pleasant handed them a loss in the second game.
Rockford’s offense struggled a bit, as they had just four hits in the contest. Sophomore Tony DiLeo hit another homerun while senior John Veitengruber and junior Bryan Baldwin each clubbed a double. DiLeo, Mike Bilski and Zach Martinek each had an RBI in the game.
Kropiewnicki was never in trouble, as he notched the win for the Rams. He threw seven innings, gave up no runs, six hits and one walk while striking out eight.
In game two, Mt. Pleasant proved to be a much tougher opponent, as the Rams dropped the game 4-0. They faced a quality left-handed pitcher from Mt. Pleasant, who was just a sophomore, and he held them in check the entire game.
Offensively, Rockford was held to just three hits for the game. Baldwin, Shain Showers and Martinek all had singles.
The loss was given to senior Taylor Masiewicz despite a pretty strong pitching performance. It was only Masiewicz’s second time on the hill for the Rams and he was behind in the count quite a bit, but looked pretty good. Masiewicz threw six innings, gave up three earned runs, three hits, seven walks and fanned four. He was relieved in the seventh inning by Martinek. Martinek pitched one inning, giving up one earned run, two hits, two walks and struck out one.
The Rams beat the West Ottawa Panthers in league play at home on Monday, May 24, and lost a game at West Ottawa on Wednesday, May 26. In the first game, the Rams won 6-1 behind another strong pitching performance by Baldwin.
Rockford was outhit by West Ottawa 7-8 on the day, but the hits were timely and the Panthers made some errors that the Rams capitalized on. Leading the way for the Rams, offensively, was Martinek, who had two singles and scored two runs. Christian Lienesch also had a single, scored two runs and had an RBI. Also garnering hits on the day were Andrew Rademacher, Masiewicz, Showers and Drew Farmer.
Baldwin was very efficient in the win. He had half the number of pitches thrown by the opposing Panthers pitchers by the fifth inning. The Panthers had eight hits, but Baldwin did a good job of spreading those out throughout the seven innings he pitched. Baldwin gave up one earned run, eight hits, one walk, two hit batters and struck out six in obtaining another victory.
In the second game, which took place at West Ottawa, the Rams outhit the Panthers but couldn’t string enough of them together to take advantage. Leading the way offensively was Evan Smith, Lienesch and Baldwin all with two hits apiece. Ian Stankus, Showers and Martinek each had one hit on the day.
Kropiewnicki took the loss for the Rams. Kropiewnicki went 2-2/3 innings and was followed by Martinek, who pitched 2-1/3 innings and Masiewicz with one inning of relief work.
The game on Wednesday determined where the Rams finished the season in conference play. Hudsonville took first in the league while Rockford, Jenison and West Ottawa tied for second place.
The Rams beat West Catholic 4-0 in the first game of a non-conference doubleheader and lost 8-4 in the second game on Friday, May 28 at Rockford.
Offensively, Showers led the way with a single, two doubles, two runs batted in and two runs scored. Brandon Nostrant, Smith, Rademacher and Martinek each had singles as well. The other two runs were scored by Lienesch and Rademacher.
Junior left-handed pitcher Austin Stephens started and finished the game for the Rams. Four runs by his teammates proved to be more than sufficient as Stephens shut out West Catholic. In notching the win, Stephens went seven innings while giving up four hits, two walks and no runs. He also had six strikeouts on the day.
In the second game, the Rams’ offense couldn’t quite get going and they left seven runners on base. Junior centerfielder Lienesch had a double and two runs batted in to lead the Rams offensively. Nostrant belted a double and drove in a run. Also contributing were Maritnek with two singles, and Smith and Showers each with a single.
Defensively, the Rams used four different pitchers. Caleb Post, Martinek, Stankus and Masiewicz all pitched in the game. Masiewicz pitched four innings, giving up two hits, one earned run and striking out five.
The Rams then beat Comstock Park 2-0 twice in a non-conference doubleheader on Tuesday, June 1 at Rockford.
The Rams garnered seven hits in game one and only gave up two to take the first game. Offensively, they were led by Martinek, who had two hits. Also pitching in offensively were Baldwin, Farmer, Rademacher and Masiewicz, who each had one hit apiece.
Two runs offensively for the Rams were more than sufficient for junior pitchers Baldwin and Stephens. The right-handed Baldwin started the game and went five strong innings in notching the win. He only gave up two hits, walked three and struck out four. Stephens, the left-hander, came in for the last two innings to get the save. He didn’t give up any hits, walked two and struck out one.
In the second game, the Rams were held to just five hits and left seven runners on base. Sophomore left-handed hitter Farmer led offensively. He had a double and a homerun with one RBI. Fellow sophomore DiLeo had a double and an RBI as well. Baldwin and Nostrant each contributed a single.
Defensively, the two runs scored by the Rams were plenty due to an outstanding pitching performance by Kropiewnicki. He was in control all the way and went five solid innings, giving up only one hit, no runs and struck out five. Martinek came in to record the save, going two scoreless innings with three walks, one hit and two strikeouts.
The Rockford varsity baseball team beat Northview 6-1 to advance to the district finals against Kenowa Hills and lost 4-0, thereby ending their season.
In game one, it was solid pitching again for the Rams as Baldwin pitched a gem and the offense was productive. Leading the way offensively was Showers, who had a double, a triple and two runs scored. Also producing for Rockford were Baldwin with two singles and an RBI, Rademacher with a single, double and an RBI, and DiLeo with a single.
Baldwin was his usual self. in control of the game as he went the distance, pitching seven innings while giving up only one earned run, two hits, two walks and striking out six. The win allowed the Rams to move on to play the winner of the Greenville/Kenowa Hills game. Kenowa Hills was the winner.
In the finals, the Rams outhit Kenowa 7-4, but couldn’t string them together to capitalize against Kenowa Hills’ ace pitcher. Rockford left eight men on base. Offensively, Baldwin had two singles and Stankus, DiLeo, Masiewicz and Nostrant all had a single each.
Defensively, the Rams got solid pitching again from southpaw Stephens, but two errors in the field cost them the four runs. Stephens took the tough loss while giving up no earned runs, four hits, three walks and striking out four.
The loss in the district finals was one more game than the Rams were able to go last year, and ended a solid season. They finished second in a tough OK Red conference and were beaten by a good Kenowa Hills team. Coach Hearn and the underclassmen are counting the days until next season.
The Rams will lose three seniors from the team this year. Those seniors are Zach Martinek, John Veitengruber and Taylor Masiewicz. Martinek proved to be a clutch hitter this season and his bat will be missed. Veitengruber was “Mr. Utility” and his versatility as well as leadership and supportive demeanor was an asset to the Rams’ team this year. Masiewicz is a gifted athlete who turned in some very solid pitching performances this year, and will be playing football at Ferris State University.