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Raiders tie one, win one in a special matchup with Knights at LMCU Ballpark

(Photo of GRCC Athletics )

By Jackson Heiden

The Grand Rapids Community College baseball team took on Calvin University in a special doubleheader matchup hosted by the West Michigan Whitecaps at LMCU Ballpark. The Raiders were celebrating the 26th anniversary of the 1996 and the 25th anniversary of the 1997 national championship teams. The Raiders tied game one 3-3 after nine innings and followed it up with a blow out, 8-0 win in game two.

Freshman Dean Sommer struggled early with command issues as he hit the first batter of the game and eventually escaped the potential disaster. The big struggles came in the top of the second where the Knights got their leadoff man on with a walk, and followed it up with their first hit of the game with an RBI triple, making it 1-0. Sommer walked his third batter of the game following the triple. The Raiders failed to turn what would’ve been an inning-ending double play to leave runners on the corner with two outs and the Knights up 2-0. Freshman Riley Hawkins came in to relieve Sommer of his duties and gave up an RBI single to make it 3-0, as that was it for the Knight’s second-inning rally. 

Hawkins looked to be in control early as he got a quick first two outs in the top of the third. The Knights hit a double followed up by a single and were threatening once again, however, Hawkins put an end to their rally as he struck them out to end the top of the third. 

After being quiet for most of the game up to this point, the Raiders finally got a little friction in the bottom of the fourth, as redshirt-freshman Ryan Dykstra drew a one-out walk. After advancing to second on a groundout, the Raiders got lucky as the Knights first baseman botched a catch, setting up the Raiders with runners on the corner with two outs. However, nothing came to fruition as freshman Zacarias Salinas grounded out to end the inning. 

Not much was happening for the Raiders offensively in the bottom of the sixth as the only production came from a one-out single which was quickly put to bed as the Raiders grounded into an inning-ending double play. 

Things got interesting in the bottom of the seventh inning as it was do or die for the Raiders. Chargo led off the inning for the Raiders, with a single. After a passed ball moving the runner up to second, and back to back outs, the Raiders looked to be in trouble. Redshirt-freshman Joe Hoeks drew a two-out walk to put the runners on the corners. Redshirt-freshman Max Varon came in as a pinch hitter and unloaded everything he had as he hit an opposite-field home run to tie the game at three. That would be it for the Raiders that inning as the game was headed to extras.

The Raiders had the perfect opportunity to win the game in the bottom of the eighth as they had bases loaded with one out. After Salinas grounded into a fielder’s choice that left it up to Hoeks to end the game for the Raiders. Hoeks came up unlucky as he lined one right back into the pitcher’s glove. 

Going into the bottom of the ninth the Raiders had almost identical situations as a one-out walk, and single set it up with runners on first and second. After a fielder’s choice, it forced the game with two outs and runners on the corners. The Knights loaded the bases with two outs, but nothing became of it as the Raiders ended the game with a pop-out. The game ended in a tie after the ninth inning due to the game being a non-conference game.

The Raiders exploded for eight runs as they blew by the Knights to improve their record to 15-20-1. 

The Knights started the game looking to take control early as they hit back-to-back singles, however, most of their momentum was quickly taken away as the Raiders threw out their lead-off batter. After a two-out walk, freshman Kellan Smith struck out the next batter to end the inning. 

Not much happened until the bottom of the fourth inning as both teams went neck and neck with a pitcher’s duel. The Raiders’ offense came alive for three runs, as Dykstra got them started with a one-out single, following his first single the Raiders hit five more straight singles to make it 3-0. That would be it for the scoring after a strikeout and a fielder’s choice ended the inning. During the Raiders’ run inning redshirt-freshman, Brady Owen, notched his first collegiate hit which happened to be the hit that drove in run three. 

The Raiders picked right back up in the bottom of the fifth as redshirt-freshman Caleb Engelsman hit a leadoff double. After a ground out, the Raiders picked right back up with a walk, as Reisberg hit a double to drive in a run to extend their lead 4-0. Following the one-out double, Varon drew a walk to load the bases. Liakos notched the first hit of his collegiate career, and it was a big one as he drove a one-out single into right field to extend their lead 5-0. The Knights finally got their second out of the inning as the Raiders hit a sacrifice fly to extend the lead to 6-0. Redshirt-freshman Jacob Gumieny continued their reign as he notched an infield base hit extending their lead to 7-0. Engelsman drew a two-out walk to continue their bases-loaded run as he drew in another run making it 8-0. Dykstra ended the huge Raider rally as he struck out to end the inning. 

Freshman Melvin Rodriguez became the third Raider to get the first hit of his collegiate career as he led off the inning with a single. Following a Varon hit by a pitch with one out, Liakos grounded into an inning-ending double-play. 

That would be all for either team in the scoring column as the Raiders closed out the win in the top of the seventh where the Raiders won 8-0, to notch win #15 on the season. 

The Raiders pick back up with conference play as they welcome Glen Oaks Community College home, this Friday, April 22, with the first pitch scheduled for 2 p.m. and game two’s first pitch scheduled for 4:30 p.m. 

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