By RANDY GREGORY
It was a match up between the last two Division 1 state baseball champions when Rockford (2011) and Hudsonville (2012) played for the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) Regional championship at Hudsonville on Saturday, June 8th. Hudsonville had come out on top in two of the previous three meetings between the two baseball powers this season. All three contests were tight, low-scoring affairs and there was little reason to expect anything different this time around.
It played out that way for the first several innings, but a huge fifth-inning rally from the Rams put them firmly in control and they rode the powerful right arm of junior Brent Showers to the 7-0 victory. Showers allowed five hits while fanning ten and walking only one in a dominant, route going performance.
“Brent was in control from the get go today,” said Rockford coach Ian Hearn. “He got in a little trouble a few times but just reached back for a little something extra when he needed it. He had all of his pitches working today and showed everyone there the type of competitor he is.”
Rockford broke out on top with the only run they would prove to need in the second-inning. Tim Redder doubled off of the fence in right field and eventually came around to score on a single by Cory Stankus. Showers kept the Eagles at bay while he waited for his team’s offense to erupt. The explosion came in the top of the fifth-inning as the Rams produced five run-scoring hits that pushed the lead to 6-0 Rockford.
First it was Tyler Pellerito with an RBI double, That was followed by RBI singles from Steven Powell, Redder, Stankus and Steven Bilski in succession to give Rockford an insurmountable lead that Showers refused to yield. The Rams scored an additional insurance run on a later error that made it 7-0.
“It was an excellent weekend of baseball for us,” said Hearn. “We have had outstanding pitching and defense all season long and we have really started hitting the baseball lately as well. We had great pitching, committed only one error and came through with some key hits in pressure situations today. That is a combination that is tough to beat and today certainly played out that way for us.”
Kory Young, Redder and Stankus were the three Rams with multiple hits in the contest. It was also an error-free contest for the Rams defensively.
The win moves the 28-9 Rams into the MHSAA Division 1 quarterfinals against a 39-2 squad from Bay City Western that is in the midst of a 30-game winning streak. The Warriors are also the consensus number-one team in the state. Game time is slated for 1:00 P.M. on Tuesday, June 11th at Theunissen Stadium on the campus of Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant.