The Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) baseball team finished in second place in the Michigan Community College Athletic Association (MCCAA) conference this year, just one game behind Kellogg Community College. They were 19-7 in conference and 39-22 overall. GRCC earned a berth to the regionals held in Battle Creek with the second-place conference finish.
The regionals included the top six teams from the MCCAA and two teams from Ohio, one of which (Sinclair Community College) was ranked third in the country. The Raiders had to win six of their seven regional games to win the regional championship, and the seventh was a tightly contested, extra-inning game versus Macomb Community College. GRCC ended up winning 6-5 in 10 innings to earn a bid to the Junior College World Series in Enid, Okla., May 26-June 2. They are currently ranked 11th in the nation, according to the most recent NJCAA Division II poll.
Two former Rockford Ram players and now GRCC Raiders, Christian Lienesch and Austin Stephens, will be part of the Raiders’ World Series endeavor. Both Lienesch and Stephens played a big part in the Rockford baseball Division I state championship last June—the place: Battle Creek.
Lienesch and Stephens commented to each other as they pulled into Bailey Park in Battle Creek on Friday, May 11 that they “had a good feeling about things” and “had won a championship there before.” Even though they are freshmen at GRCC, their leadership and championship experience was valuable.
“Ram pride served us well,” said Stephens. “Coaches Hearn, Doyle and Fusee taught us to set the bar high and expect success. That mindset helped a lot.”
Both Lienesch and Stephens have enjoyed success as Raiders this season and look to build on that in Enid, Okla. in the coming days. Lienesch has been a stingy outfielder, tracking down fly balls for the Raiders this season. He is batting .367 with two doubles and 14 runs scored. Stephens, a left-handed pitcher, is 3-1 with a 3.89 ERA and is second on the team, and fifth in the conference, with five saves.
GRCC has another Rockford resident on the team. Right-handed pitcher, David Frederick, is a sophomore for the Raiders. Frederick was a Northview graduate in 2010 and has accepted an offer to play at Wayne State next season. He was selected as Most Valuable Player of the regionals for his two wins on the mound over the weekend.
This season’s Ram senior pitcher, Ian Stankus, will be joining Lienesch and Stephens at GRCC next season. The Ram players will no doubt continue to have an impact as Raiders.
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