By Nelson Hubbell
Sandwiched between two rain postponements on Friday and Sunday, Grand Rapids Community College took the field on Saturday, April 23 and won both games of a doubleheader against Glen Oaks Community College with final scores of 7-3 and 5-1.
As temperatures flirted with 80 degrees and high humidity, redshirt-freshman Ryan Dykstra knocked a two-run home run (his fifth this season) in the top of the first inning of the day’s games. Some say the ball travels farther when it’s warm and that was the case for the Raiders who hit three home runs in their first game and four on the day. Powering the offense in his own right, redshirt-freshman Jacob Gumieny, the owner of one of those homers, went a perfect four for four in the first game and six for seven on the day.
After jumping out to a 2-0 lead, both teams remained scoreless until the Raiders made it 3-0 on a freshman Xander Reisbig (first of his career) home run in the fifth. Glen Oaks responded, tying the game up in the bottom of the inning where all three runs scored came unearned due to throwing errors by the Raiders.
As things got tense in the final two innings of the first game, the Raiders came out with a homer from freshman Zacarias Salinas (first of his career) in the sixth and a three-run seventh inning to quell the worries.
Redshirt-freshman Jerad Berkenpas pitched a solid six innings and only gave up the three unearned runs in the 7-3 Raiders’ victory on 10 hits and no walks.
The second game of the day, a 5-1 GRCC win, was all pitching with four scoreless innings until the fourth where both teams traded a run. Pitching for GRCC was Drew Murphy who pitched six innings of one run baseball. Murphy had seven strikeouts and three walks.
Redshirt-freshman Joe Hoeks doubled in the top of the fifth where Gumieny then smacked a two-run homer (first of the season) to make it a 3-1 ballgame and to drive in Hoeks. The Raiders scored two more runs in the seventh on a wild pitch that brought in freshman center fielder Payton Young and a double by Caleb Engelsman that brought in Gumieny.
Elliot Traveler closed out both the first and second games with no runs allowed and a strikeout in each contest.
“It was just a good team win,” said GRCC’s head coach Mike Eddington. The pitching was good and some guys stepped up and hit some big home runs for us. I was also impressed with how Glen Oaks played and battled, they’re better than they were last year.”
With finals week upcoming it’s one of the more stressful weeks for GRCC student athletes and all students alike.
“It’s a big week for them (the team) with finals week and games,” Eddington said. Do your job. Don’t get behind, you gotta stay on top of things. School is really more important than baseball so it’s up to them to be mature enough to be prepared and to do work ahead of time. That’s what we preach here.”
Tournament time is only two weeks away for the Raiders as the Michigan Community College Athletic Association’s (MCCAA) tournament begins on Tuesday, May 10. “Our side of the division is very good from top to bottom. It’s a grind with 56 games while you’re juggling college and it’s a learning process,” said Eddington.
The MCCAA tournament serves as the regional seeding tournament for the National Junior College Athletic Association’s tournament which takes place from Thursday, May 12 until Monday, May 23. The Raiders currently sit at third in the western division of the MCCAA and sixth in the conference as a whole.
The Raiders’ next competition will be Tuesday, April 26 against Davenport University JV at Davenport.