By Sean Chase
The Grand Rapids Community College baseball team faced off against the Jayhawks of Muskegon Community College on Friday, April 9 in a double-header, losing the first game, 6-5, and winning the second, 10-2. The Raiders are now 11-6 on the season.
“We’ve been playing a lot of good teams, and we gotta clean some areas up, little things win ball games,” said Mike Eddington, the head coach of GRCC’s baseball team. “It was good to come back and win. Same thing (as yesterday), we lost a game with Lansing, bases loaded last inning. (Against MCC) we got some good timely hitting, and hopefully that will carry on to (future) games.”
After dropping both games to Lake Michigan Community College and nationally ranked Lansing Community College in a heart-breaking fashion, the Raiders found themselves on a bit of a skid. However, in the opening innings of the first game against the Jayhawks, it looked as if the Raiders were going to turn their luck around.
Through the first inning neither team mustered any points, However in the top of the second inning MCC’s bats came to life. When Jayhawks sophomore Nolan Perrin turned on a 1-1 pitch from Raiders’ starting pitcher Collin Bradley, resulting in a solo homer. MCC brought seven more batters to the plate in the half-inning, as they took a 3-0 lead.
The Raiders quickly responded in the bottom of the second, with a single and three walks to put themselves on the board, 3-1. GRCC freshman Fernando Rivera-Calderon singled to plate another run, followed by an error from the MCC infield that tied the contest, 3-3. When the dust settled on the second inning, the Raiders were ahead, 4-3.
In the bottom of the third inning, the Raiders scored another run off of a single by redshirt-freshman Keaton Peck driving in freshman Ryan Dykstra, 5-3. MCC managed a run in the top of the fifth inning, but the GRCC advantage remained.
With two outs remaining in the game, MCC freshman Matt Corrado hit a ball into the gap. By the time he reached second base, two runs had crossed the plate putting the Jayhawks up, 6-5.
“Just disappointing that we didn’t finish, being up two going into the last inning,” Eddington said. “That’s the second league game that we’ve lost where we were up two going into the last inning and not able to finish the deal.”
It was a different story, however, for the Raiders in the second game of the day. As redshirt-sophomore Garrett Cheslek took the mound for GRCC. After Cheslek retired the MCC side in the top of the first inning, careful pitch selection allowed the Raiders’ to put runners in scoring position with two outs in the bottom of the first. Redshirt freshman Jake Paganelli reached first base off of an error by MCC pitcher Marty McDonald, driving in a run. Freshman Caleb Englesman immediately followed Paganelli’s efforts with a single to left field, bringing Dykstra across the plate to put GRCC up, 2-0.
MCC’s first run in the game came off of a wild pitch from Cheslek in the top of the second. The score remained close through the rest of the game, with the Raiders adding a run in the fourth and fifth innings to extend their lead, 4-1. The Jayhawks tried to mount a comeback in the top of the sixth inning, however, after scoring a run on a fielder’s choice MCC sophomore Noah Reed struck out, stranding a runner in scoring position.
The Raiders immediately responded to MCC’s attack on their lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, as they brought 13 batters to the plate, resulting in six runs. The majority of which came off of a Calderon double that cleared the bases, driving in three runs. Going into the final inning GRCC held a large lead, 10-2. The Jayhawks’ final turn in the batters box wasn’t fruitful as the Raider lead held strong.
“I was glad that they battled back and took care of business,” Eddington said. “ We got good pitching and everyone contributed to the win, which was nice.”
Next the Raiders will look to continue their momentum with the bats, when they head to Muskegon to face-off against the Jayhawks in a double-header on Sunday, April 11, with the first game starting at 2 p.m.
“We just gotta be focused for the whole double-header,” Eddington said. “For college baseball you’re there a couple of hours before the game, we have a fairly large number of younger guys, and it’s just a learning process to be able to focus throughout the whole day. (There are) a lot of ups-and-downs in baseball when you’re dealing with failure, and we just gotta improve on our focus.”