By RANDY GREGORY
It wasn’t the week that Rockford baseball had hoped for, but it also was far from a disaster. The Rams entered the week alone in the top spot of the OK Red standings with an 8-1 record. Nipping at their heels were the teams from Hudsonville and West Ottawa who were both 7-2, and also the final two opponents of the Rams for three games apiece to close out league play for 2013.
Rockford and Hudsonville first squared off at Rockford on Tuesday, May 14th for a pair of games that lived up to their advance billing as some of the finest baseball in the state. In the opener it was Hudsonville rallying for two runs in the top of the seventh inning to claim a thrilling 3-2 win. In the night cap, it was the Rams turn to celebrate as they rallied for a 3-2 win in nine innings to leave things status quo in the OK Red. The Rams visited Hudsonville on Thursday for the rubber game of the series and the Eagles led from start to finish to claim a 4-2 win and forge a tie atop the OK Red. The teams also found out later that West Ottawa had gone 2-1 in their three games to make it a three for all in the always competitive league.
“The good news is our pitching and defense have been consistent for us all year long,” said Rockford coach Ian Hearn. “We had our chances to push some runs across in every game but we just couldn’t get the key hit to put us over the top. But we still have the opportunity to compete for the OK Red championship this week.”
Ryan Jerrills got the win for Rockford in the back half of Tuesday’s double dip with one and two thirds innings of scoreless relief of Alex Hertel. Reid Kelley and Brent Showers suffered the two losses despite fine efforts from both on the mound. Showers had two hits in Tuesday’s opener and Matt Dileo drove home Kelley with a sacrifice fly in the ninth inning of game two. Kory Young and Tyler Pellerito each had a pair of hits in Thursday’s loss while Showers knocked in both runs with a seventh inning single that gave Rockford a chance that came up just short.
The Rams licked their wounds and played four more contests later in the week, winning all of them. Rockford first swept a fine Montague team 4-2 and 9-3 on Friday before taking their own tournament on Saturday with a 12-0 victory over Remus Chippewa Hills and toppling Portland 10-4 in the finals. Ryan Baumann got the win in Friday’s opener with Landon Haney emerging victorious in the second leg. Freshman Bryce Kelley tossed the shutout in the Chippewa Hills game and Young was brilliant in relief in the Portland game to get the win.
Young and Tim Redder both had a pair of hits in game number two on Friday to pace the offense. Jonathan Stewart, Pellerito, Showers and Young had two hits each in Saturday’s opener and Cory Stankus and Young had a pair in the title tilt.
Rockford will journey to Holland for a doubleheader with West Ottawa on Tuesday, May 21st and host the Panthers for a single contest on Thursday, May 23rd. They will also host South Christian for a pair of contests on Friday, May 24th to close out the regular season.
“Our bats started to turn the corner at the end of last week,” said Hearn. “If we can continue to execute the way we are capable of we have a good chance to achieve the goals we set out to achieve when the season began.”
Rockford (20-8) also knows how their path must proceed in the state tournament because they drew a match up with Northview for a pre-district game on Tuesday, May 28th at 1:00 P.M. at Greenville High School.