By RANDY GREGORY
After squeaking by Northview 4-3 to begin the 2013 Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 1 baseball tourney in Greenville on Wednesday, May 29th, Rockford left no doubters in Saturday’s (June 1) action. The Rams began by facing off with the hosts and struggled temporarily before eventually rolling to a 12-2 (six-inning mercy rule) win to move forward to the championship tilt against Forest Hills Northern.
The Rams proved even less hospitable to the Huskies as they cruised to a 10-0 (five-inning mercy rule) triumph that punched their ticket to Regional action at Hudsonville on Saturday, June 8th. The 26-9 Rams will meet Forest Hills Central (15-13) in the opening game at 10:00 A.M. Hudsonville (22-8) will then take on a 20-5 Muskegon Mona Shores team immediately afterwards. The two winners will then meet for the right to advance to quarterfinal action on Tuesday, June 11th.
“Our pitching and defense have been really good almost all season long,” said Rockford coach Ian Hearn. “The last few days leading up to this weekend we emphasized offense a little more and it showed in the number of extra-base hits we got. We played three solid games in a row and now we just need to carry this forward.”
Rockford and Greenville started off the first game of the day by pushing across two runs each in the first inning. That would be it for the Yellow Jackets, but the fun was just beginning for Rockford. The Rams pushed across ten runs total in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings to erase any doubt as to the eventual outcome.
Steven Powell delivered the big hit with a long two-run homer that easily cleared the fence for Rockford, and added two more hits as well. Kory Young also contributed three hits including a double in a 14-hit Ram attack. Brent Showers and Matt Dileo also chipped in with a pair of hits.
Showers fanned seven over the first four innings to get the win on the mound. Ryan Jerrils tossed the final two innings to earn the save for the Rams.
The title tilt was a mismatch from start to finish as Rockford scored three runs in the second, five in the third and two more in the fifth to roll to their third successive district title. Young had a pair of hits that included a double to pace the 10-hit Ram attack offensively. Tyler Pellerito, Showers and Powell also clubbed doubles of their own in the extra-base onslaught for Rockford.
Reid Kelley returned after a brief hiatus to thoroughly dominate an over-matched Husky team while going all five innings for the win. Kelley allowed four hits and struck out four while not issuing a single base on balls.
“We need to have the pitching and defense perform as they have been all season when we play this weekend,” said Hearn. “That allows us to be in every game. We also need to build off of the momentum we generated offensively today. Every team there has strengths that enable them to have a decent chance of coming out on top. We just hope we are the team that plays to our capabilities the best.”