by RANDY GREGORY
The nationally ranked Rockford varsity baseball team jumpstarted the 2012 season with a trio of games in Indiana last week. The Rams started things off on the right foot by routing Bedford-North Lawrence 14-3. They then topped Edgewood by a count of 8-1 before dropping the finale to Lawrence Central by a narrow 1-0 margin.
“The first two games were probably closer than the final scores indicated,” said Rockford Coach Ian Hearn. “The Bedford-North Lawrence game was 1-0 going into the fourth inning and we pulled away late against Edgewood. The game against Lawrence Central was two very good teams going at each other and the only run was after an error we made in the very first inning. It was a pretty good weekend of baseball against some very good competition.”
Ian Stankus was the winning pitcher in the opener despite a bout of wildness. Alex Hertel added a pair of scoreless innings in relief to cement the win. Rockford was paced offensively by several of their senior stalwarts. Drew Farmer and Tony Dileo had three hits apiece while Shain Showers and Max Crimp both had a pair. Jesse Edick chipped in with a double. The Rams erupted for nine runs in the fourth inning to pull away.
Nick Street and Crimp went four and three innings respectively against Edgewood in Saturday’s opener. Street was rewarded with the win and Crimp the save for their efforts. Steven Powell was the offensive catalyst with a pair of doubles and five RBIs. Showers and Kory Young also contributed a pair of hits each.
The final game of the trip was the most exciting as well as the most frustrating for Rockford. Save for the single run in the first inning, the two teams went back and forth with occasional chances but no ultimate rewards. Rockford threw sophomores Brent Showers and Reid Kelley, and they didn’t disappoint against elite competition while allowing only five hits. Rockford could manage only four of their own, however, and the lone tally stood up as the determining factor in the hotly contested game.
“Lawrence Central played tremendous defense all game long,” said Hearn. “Their center fielder took away at least three doubles, but by the same token we just couldn’t come up with a key hit when we needed it. That was good pitching coupled with excellent defense by both teams, but they made just a few more plays than we did.”
Rockford returns to action this Wednesday, April 11, when they host Muskegon. The Rams will then return the favor by making the trek to Muskegon on Friday, April 13 for another OK Red game. They will then cap off the week by hosting the Rockford Invitational on Saturday, April 14. The tournament features a formidable quartet of teams including Grand Rapids Christian, Grand Rapids West Catholic and Ann Arbor Pioneer.
“I was really happy with how the team battled this weekend,” said Hearn. “We walked a few too many batters but we got to face the number one pitchers on two of those teams, and that will really help us as the season progresses.”