By Matthew Scheidel
The Grand Rapids Community College Raiders baseball team won in convincing fashion, defeating the Aquinas Saints’ junior varsity team 14-4 in a game shortened by the mercy rule on Wednesday night at Belknap Park.
The Raiders got the scoring started in the second inning, when Alec Lockwood singled, and Dakota Phillips and Jim Wressel both walked. John Huistra drove in the game’s first run with an RBI single. Brady Paganelli added another single and Sam Briggs and Jordan Ball both drove in runs via groundouts to give the Raiders a 4-0 lead early.
The Saints responded in the next inning. John Sanocki came on to pitch for the Raiders, and he struggled, giving up two earned runs on three hits with two walks. But in the bottom of the third inning, the Raiders struck back, capitalizing off of several mistakes made by the Saints. Jared Bujdos reached on a two-base error, followed by walks to Lockwood and Phillips. After Aquinas brought in a new pitcher, Huistra was hit by a pitch and then Briggs drove in two runs on a fielder’s choice to make it 7-2 in favor of the Raiders.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Ball led off by getting hit by a pitch. Then, Calvin Syrjala raked a two-run shot off the scoreboard in left center field, his fourth home run already this season.
Syrjala said that he was locked in during that at-bat, whereas the first two he wasn’t quite focused.
“My first two at-bats, the sun was right in my eyes, so I was really struggling to see the ball very well,” Syrjala said. “My third at-bat I just kind of locked in and I got a good piece of it.”
Syrjala said the difference between this year and last year for him at the plate is that he is trying to be more patient.
“Last year I was chasing (pitches) a lot,” Syrjala said. “But this year I’ve been trying to be more honed in and look for one pitch every time.”
The reserves started rolling in the fifth inning, when Jake Ryan, who pinch ran in the second inning singled, and Hayden Cross and Trevor Patterson both had pinch-hit singles. This was followed by a two-run double by Dylan McMaster to increase the lead to 11-2. Then both Patterson and McMaster scored on wild pitches to make it 13-2. CJ Breen would add a sacrifice fly later in the inning to make it 14-2. While the Saints got two runs in the sixth, that would not be enough as the game was called in the seventh inning due to the mercy rule, with the Raiders winning 14-4.
Coach Mike Eddington was pleased with the way the offense performed, adding that all he is looking for at the moment is improvement.
“It was pretty good,” Eddington said. “Our goal is just to get better every day and right now we just need to play and get better.”
Eddington believes his team is ready for conference play, and that the team is looking forward to it.
“We played last week, so this will be our second series,” Eddington said. “We are looking forward to competing and playing.”
The Raiders will be back in action on Thursday, when they play a double-header with the Mid Michigan College Lakers at Belknap Park. The first game starts at 2 p.m.