By RANDY GREGORY
Rockford and Northview kicked off the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) baseball Division 1 district at Greenville on Wednesday, May 29th with a thrilling pre-district contest that came down to the final inning. In the end, the Rams pecked away to win 4-3 despite falling into an early 3-0 hole to earn the right to advance to further action on Saturday.
“The team just gritted their teeth and willed their way to this win,” said Rockford coach Ian Hearn. “Northview has an excellent team and gave us everything we could handle. Brent (Showers) gave up those early runs and then just totally shut the door on them. That gave us the chance to come back and get the win.”
It looked bleak for the Rams in a flash as the Wildcats blasted a three-run homer in the opening inning to take a quick 3-0 lead. The Rams got one back in their half of the first but squandered several golden opportunities over the next few innings to stay on the short side of a 3-1 score until the home half of the sixth-inning.
In the fateful sixth, the decisive rally began for Rockford with Cory Stankus getting hit by a pitch. Steven Bilski and Jonathan Stewart followed with singles to load the bases with nobody out for the Rams. Kory Young followed with a single to make it a 3-2 game and Tyler Pellerito immediately delivered another base hit to knot things up at 3-3. Showers then drove a fly ball that was deep enough to score the final run of the inning and give Rockford a 4-3 lead.
Showers followed up with another sterling inning in the top of the seventh to get the win and Rockford had done just enough to advance onward to face off with Greenville on Saturday, June 1st.
“I”m not sure how many men we left on base over the first few innings, but we left the bases loaded at least twice,” said Hearn. “I have to give some credit to Northview’s pitcher for getting out of some tough situations, but I just had the feeling it was a matter of time before we got some key hits.”