By Connor Lannen
The Grand Rapids Community College baseball team did not disappoint in their home opener doubleheader at Belknap Park. GRCC had a rematch against Aquinas College’s JV squad and came out victorious in both games of the doubleheader.
As seen in the previous games, the Raiders have been successful in making an inning seem never ending. The Raiders took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning but added on a huge six run inning in the bottom of the third to take control of the ball game.
GRCC received some help in the third by juicing the bases off of two hit by pitches and a walk. With one out and the bases loaded, freshman shortstop, Caleb Engelsman, stepped up to the plate and launched a line drive triple into right field, clearing the bases and giving GRCC a 4-0 lead.
The Raiders tacked on three more runs in the third, off of two singles, a double, and a sacrifice fly, before Aquinas was finally able to stop the bleeding and get out of the inning. Matt Williams, Max Varon and Fernando Calderon all added one RBI each in the third bringing the score to 7-0.
Aquinas was able to cross home plate twice in the top of the fourth, making it a 7-2 ball game. GRCC added runs in the bottom of the fourth and fifth innings, from a Ryan Dykstra RBI double and a bases loaded, hit by pitch giving the Raiders a 9-2 lead.
GRCC had six pitchers contribute to hold Aquinas to three hits while striking out an incredible 13 batters, through the first seven-inning doubleheader game. Leadoff hitter, Jake Ryan, did not have the luckiest day at the plate as he was hit by three pitches in four plate appearances.
Englesman had himself a ball game, going 2 for 4 with three RBIs and swiping two bases. Baserunning has been a strong point for the Raiders this season and they added six stolen bases in game one.
Game one: GRCC 9 Aquinas JV 2
The second game of the doubleheader was another lopsided victory for the Raiders. Englesman started on the mound and pitched two shutout innings before the Raiders could get the bats rolling in the bottom of the second.
With two outs and runners on second and third, Ryan got some revenge from the first game and ripped a triple to right field, driving in two runs and giving the Raiders the lead 2-0. Sam Schmitt followed, hitting a line drive double to left field, scoring Ryan. Aaron West added an RBI single to make the score 4-0 after two innings.
Aquinas was able to tighten up the game in the top of the third, off of a two-run home run by Aquinas’s catcher. GRCC added a pair of runs in the fourth inning to get back to a four-run lead.
The seemingly never ending inning that the Raiders have been excellent on capitalizing on, came in the bottom of the fifth. GRCC plated nine runs in the fifth and Aquinas had to face 13 Raider batters before getting out of the inning.
Ryan had another RBI on a single scoring Keaton Peck, Dykstra and Payton Young added RBI singles and catcher, Jake Paganelli, put the nail in the coffin with a bases-loaded triple, scoring three runs and bringing the score to 15-2.
Englesman and Caden Van Deburg delivered two scoreless innings on the mound and Blake Waibel closed the game out with a scoreless sixth inning. Jerad Berkenpas suffered the lone runs from the two-run shot hit in the third.
Game two: GRCC 15 Aquinas JV 2
After losing the season opener to Aquinas 7-0, the Raiders have more than gotten their revenge by outscoring Aquinas 41-5 in the three games that followed. The Raiders have won four in a row, in which their closest game concluded with a final score of 9-2.
It is difficult to single out anyone from the Raiders lineup as there has been production coming from the leadoff batter to the ninth hitter in the order. GRCC hoists a .359 team batting average and a .466 team on base percentage through five games.
Head Coach Mike Eddington has the Raiders on a roll, sitting at 4-1, and will look to continue in their first MCCAA showdown on Friday. GRCC travels to Shepard, Michigan to face off against Mid Michigan College in a doubleheader. The very next day they will be back at Belknap Park playing another doubleheader against Mid Michigan College.