Rockford played West Ottawa for the second time on Friday, May 20, as their Thursday game was rained out. The Rams avenged a loss earlier in the week as they gave away a game to the Panthers and lost by a run.
This game was not quite so close. Senior left-hander Joe Kropiewnicki wasn’t going to give the Panthers any inkling of coming away with a second win. It was a totally different game indeed. The Rams came to play and didn’t give away outs.
Kropiewnicki started out the first inning by striking out the side. In the second inning he gave up a lead-off walk and then retired three in a row with two fly balls and a ground ball to second. In the third, he struck out the first batter and got two more ground ball outs. In the fourth, it was two ground ball outs and a strikeout as well.
In the fifth, and last inning, due to the mercy rule, he hit the lead off batter, the second batter reached on an error and then the lead runner was picked off second by catcher Tony DiLeo, who threw him out from his knees. Kropiewnicki then got two more ground ball outs to end the game. He was never in trouble. The no-hitter gives him his seventh win. He went five innings while giving up no hits, one walk, one hit batter and striking out five.
The no-hitter marks a unique accomplishment that may be a first for Rockford baseball—back-to-back no-hitters.
The Ram offense used some timely hits, walks and hit batters to score 10 runs in support of Kropiewnicki. Rockford scored early as they posted five runs in the first. They followed that with three in the second and two in the third.
In the first, Drew Farmer and Brandon Nostrant both drew walks. That was followed by singles from Shain Showers and DiLeo. Christian Leinesch then walked and scored on an Ian Stankus ground ball.
In the second inning, Andrew Rademacher led off with a single that was followed by a homerun from Farmer (his team-leading third of the season). Nostrant was hit by a pitch. Showers then doubled and Nostrant scored on a wild pitch.
In the third, Stankus led off with a walk, Rademacher walked and Farmer reached on a fielder’s choice. Stankus and Farmer both scored on passed balls.
Offensive leaders for the Rams were Farmer (1-2, HR, two RBI), Showers (2-2, double, one RBI), DiLeo (1-3), Stankus (0-2, two RBI) and Rademacher (1-1).
This puts the Rams at 19-6 overall and tied for first with Hudsonville in the OK Red.