By RANDY GREGORY
Matt Dileo and Reid Kelley started at catcher and pitcher respectively for Rockford in the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 1 regional semifinal contest against Forest Hills Central at Hudsonville on Saturday, June 8th. Dileo’s bat and Kelley’s arm were the irresistible force and the immoveable object that powered the Rams to the 6-1 victory that enabled the Rams to move on to the championship tilt.
Dileo was a perfect three for three at the plate and drove home four Rockford runs with a bases clearing double and a solo homer to go along with a single. Kelley went the distance on the mound for the Rams while allowing a single run and four hits to go along with eight strike outs, two walks and two hit batters.
“Matt really changed the game with one swing of the bat in the first inning,” said Rockford coach Ian Hearn. “He has been swinging the bat well most of the year and it carried over into this weekend. Reid has been battling an illness for several weeks now and is just starting to get some of his strength back. He got into trouble in the first-inning but showed just how far he has come in the mental part of baseball by refocusing on the task at hand and dominating the final six innings.”
Forest Hills Central tallied a single run in the top of the first inning and was in position to add more with the bases loaded, but Kelley slammed the door shut at that point and the Rangers never threatened again. Rockford had an instant retort in their half of the first when Dileo doubled home three runs to give the Rams a 3-1 lead they would not relinquish.
Dileo led off the third-inning with a long solo homer to left field and the Rams would add two more before the inning was through. Steven Powell doubled and eventually scored on a wild pitch. Steven Bilski later scored Landen Haney with a well executed squeeze bunt and the final run of the game for either team crossed the plate for Rockford.
Kelley did the rest on the mound as neither team mounted a significant threat over the balance of the contest. The win set up the fourth game of the year between Rockford and Hudsonville with the winner moving on to the quarterfinals on Tuesday.