The Grand Rapids Community College Raiders split a doubleheader against Kellogg Community College Bruins winning 3-2, and losing 6-4 on Friday.
GRCC (12-16, 8-4) is now in fourth place, behind Lansing Community College (24-10,11-5) Kellogg CC (24-14, 11-3) and Jackson College (25-11, 14-2).
Coach Mike Cupples was pleased with his team’s effort overall, but knows they will need more in this week’s games to climb the standings.
“You’ll take a win when you get it, but really we could have won both of those games,” Cupples said. “We made too many mistakes early in the second game and we battled back but it wasn’t enough.”
In Game 1 of Friday’s doubleheader, Justin Palmbos (3-3) got the win, pitching a complete game of seven innings allowing just two runs on nine hits with 11 strikeouts.
Tate Brawley got the loss for Kellogg CC on 6.2 innings of work, allowing just one earned run of the three given up.
In the seventh inning it was Jalen Cox who hit a walk off sacrifice fly to score Dalton Phillips and give GRCC the win.
Phillips had a big day at the plate going 3 for 4 with two runs batted in and a run scored. Cox went just 1 for 3, but his lone RBI was enough to win the game for the Raiders.
“Palmbos really held us in the first game and lucky for us we were able to get something going in the last inning,” Cupples said of his team’s Game 1 performance. “It was nice to see some big late game hits again.”
In Game 2, Ean Walda (2-3) picked up the loss for the Raiders, going just 1.2 innings where he allowed six runs, only four of which were earned, on six hits and a walk. Jackson Shaver then took over and pitched outstanding, allowing no runs on 5.1 innings of work with four strikeouts.
Cupples said this was a perfect example of what he wants to see his ball club do less of.
“Early mistakes are just something you can not ever have,” Cupples said. “We really played a great game and beat them most of the innings.
“However if you make early errors it’ll kill you, and it gave us a loss in this case.”
Alex Sova got the win for Kellogg CC going six innings while allowing four earned runs on four hits.
Hitting wise for the Raiders Cox had another nice game going 1 for 3 with two RBIs and a walk.
The Raiders look to rebound this week, and playing good fundamental baseball will be the key to having success.
“We just can’t beat ourselves and we have to keep playing as a team,” Cupples said. “If we stop the bleeding early enough in some of those big innings, we will get the results we want.”
Another big mention for the Raiders was Brendan Johnson earning the NJCAA Division II player of the week for April 11-17.
The sophomore first baseman had a .421 batting average, two doubles, two home runs, 10 RBIs and 10 runs scored over that time.
Johnson’s great play helped the Raiders go 5-3 during that span of time.
“It is an honor and one of the biggest moments of my baseball career,” Johnson said. “I wouldn’t have got the award without my teammates, they put me in the place to get those high numbers.”
Johnson and the Raiders look to pick up a couple more wins when they go on the road to play at Delta College. The first pitch of the doubleheader will be at 2 p.m. April 26.