by RANDY GREGORY
The Rockford baseball team came into the Division 1 Michigan High School Athletic Association quarterfinals at Theunissen Stadium in Mount Pleasant on Tuesday, June 11th facing a bit of a dilemma on the mound . Reid Kelley and Brent Showers were the Ram’s top two pitchers all season long. But Kelley was just rebounding from an illness after tossing a complete game and Showers had caught the opener and pitched the night cap of the regionals three days prior.
So Rockford coach Ian Hearn opted to do what almost every coach would do. He sent a pitcher out who had toed the rubber a grand total of two times this season. The move seemed improbable at first glance, but it was far from a move borne of desperation as the Rams sent out uber-talented junior shortstop Kory Young. Young responded with a brilliant three-hitter in tossing only 66 pitches in a route going performance that featured a mind-boggling 17 pop ups from Bay City Western.
But it proved not to be enough for a Rockford team that managed only four hits of their own en route to dropping a tense 1-0 decision. Bay City Western went on to claim the semifinals and finals in almost identical fashion by posting 2-1 and 1-0 decisions respectively.
“Kory (Young) was fantastic out there for us,” said Hearn. “He pounded the strike zone pitch after pitch and just made them (Bay City Western) hit his pitches all game long. We have pretty solid depth in our pitching staff but I think everyone in attendance saw what he is capable of if we pitched him on a more regular basis.”,
Bay City Western scored the game’s only run in the top of the first on a double and a bloop single with two outs. The Warriors accumulated a grand total of one more hit over the team’s final 19 outs and Young set down the final 13 batters in order. Rockford had the better chances over the balance of the contest, including twice getting two men on base, but could never cash in for the key hit against a team that ended the season on a 33-game winning streak and an overall mark of 42-2. For their part, the Rams ended another fine season at 28-10.
“That was just a battle between two teams that closely mirror each other,” said Hearn. “Both teams had great pitching and played outstanding defense. It seemed like whenever we did hit a ball hard it was right at them and whenever they hit something hard it was right at one of our guys. It was a great game to watch and we just came up a little short.”