Heading into the weekend, the Grand Rapids Community College baseball team was looking for some big wins to climb closer to the top of the conference standings.
Unfortunately the Raiders bats went silent over the four games, scoring just 12 runs in that span.
Coach Mike Cupples believes his team can stay in the top six to make it to regionals if the Raiders win more doubleheaders.
“We seem to be playing more like we are scared compared to being aggressive,” Cupples said of his team’s efforts over the weekend. “We have to give the opposing pitchers credit but I know we can hit the ball better than we did this weekend.”
The Raiders were swept in a doubleheader on Friday by conference leader Jackson College, losing 12-6 and 7-5. Then on Sunday they just managed one run, but still earned a split in the doubleheader against the Schoolcraft College Ocelots, losing the first game 4-0 and winning the second game 1-0.
GRCC (14-21, 10-8) is now fifth in the conference standings and needs to remain in the top six to play in the regional tournament. The Raiders have eight remaining regular season games.
First baseman Brendan Johnson said his team knows what it has to do to turn these losses into wins in the final stretch.
“We need to continue playing strong defense, which we finally stepped up in that department this weekend,” Johnson said. “Now we just need to get the bats going and put some runs on the board to close the season out.”
In Game 1 on Friday against Jackson College, Brad Buurstra (0-5) got the loss after pitching just 2.1 innings and giving up seven earned runs on 10 hits with one strikeout.
Ean Walda also struggled in the loss giving up four runs, only three earned, over just one inning of work. Walda gave up three hits and walked two.
Brad Allen got the win for the Jets, pitching 4.1 innings giving up four runs, three of which were earned, on just three hits but allowed six walks.
In Game 1, Johnson led the way in hitting going 2 for 3 with a RBI, a run scored, and a walk. Lionel Barnes helped the Raiders put runs on the board by going 1 for 3 with three RBIs.
In Game 2 of Friday’s doubleheader, Shane Odzark (2-2) got the loss on four innings of work allowing four earned runs on seven hits and two walks.
Jackson Shaver pitched the final three innings where he allowed three earned runs on five hits.
James Rodgers got credited with the win for Jackson College on 5.1 innings of work, giving up five earned runs on six hits and and five walks.
Matt Milbourne had a perfect game at the plate for GRCC, going 3 for 3 with a walk and two runs scored. Dalton Phillips also had a solid game going 1 for 2 with two walks and two runs scored.
“We hit decent on Friday but it’s not enough to beat a team at the top of your conference,” Cupples said. “It just wasn’t our best weekend in that category.”
On Sunday, the Raiders were shutout in Game 1 and Justin Palmbos (3-5) was given the loss. Palmbos went went six innings and allowed four runs, only one earned, on seven hits and one walk while racking up 11 strikeouts.
Nick Montroy got the win for Schoolcraft, going seven innings of shutout ball on just four hits and one walk while striking out five.
On the hitting side of things for GRCC it was a pretty quiet game as the Raiders only managed four total hits. Chase Huntey had the best day going 2 for 3 with a couple singles.
In Game 2, the Raiders finally found a win on shutout performance from Sam Traver (5-2) who leads the team in wins. Traver went seven innings giving up no runs on three hits and four walks while striking out five.
Donovan Thacker got the loss for the Ocelots even though it was a great performance. Thacker allowed just one unearned run on three hits and two walks with two K’s.
Sterling Brinker went 1 for 3 and reached on an error that allowed Will Harris to score the game winning run.
“We were fortunate enough to get a win on an unearned run and it was much needed,” Cupples said of his team’s late and only run scored to win Game 2. “Hopefully we can learn from this weekend and come out this week hitting better.”
Phillips had a solid day at the plate going 2 for 3 with a double and a single.
Johnson said he thinks his team has what it takes to get the job done down the stretch.
“We have eight games left and I think we are in the mindset that we can make a run,” Johnson said. “Everyone in here believes in each other and that’s a good feeling.
“We have the talent and potential, I know we can do this.”
The Raiders will welcome Ancilla College to Belknap Park for the first time this year for a doubleheader that will begin at 2 p.m. Tuesday, May 3.