Rockwood splits with Grace Christian

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By Michael Lindsay


Rockwood had not defeated Grace Christian Academy in baseball since the 2014 season, but that changed Monday afternoon as the Tigers split the opening District 3A series of the 2017 season with the Rams.

Grace took game one by a score of 7-2, but Rockwood rallied to win game two 3-2 in nine innings.

“To get a win against them to start our season off is big,” said Tiger coach Jake Witter. “I’m proud of these kids, who don’t necessarily have a lot of experience, for coming out and playing a game like that against a team like Grace.”

Game One

The Tigers kept the game close early, but a seven-run fourth inning by the Grace Christian gave them the 7-2 victory.

Rockwood opened the game with hits from Dalton Monroe and Lucas McDermott in the first, but were unable to reach home.

The Tigers broke through in the second, scoring two runs. Rickey McElhaney stole home on a successful double steal for the first run. Rockwood then caught a break soon after as a Rams error with two outs allowed Kyle VanPatten to reach home safely.

McDermott pitched himself out of a bases-loaded jam in the third, but Rockwood was unable to find home on offense. Trey Treadway contributed to two outs in the frame as well.

The fourth inning decided game one as Grace Christian exploded for seven runs. Rockwood was unable to score in the fifth, and the Rams took the 7-2 victory in game one.

Monroe led the Tigers offensively in game one, going 2-for-3 at the plate.

Game Two

Following a tough loss in the first game, the young Tigers team was set up for a letdown in game two. Coach Witter’s team had other plans, defeating Grace Christian in a nine-inning, walk-off thriller.

“We bent, but we didn’t break,” said Witter.

Being the home team in game two, the Tigers scored first in the bottom of the first inning via a bases-loaded walk. Treadway reached home for Rockwood on the play.

The Rams threatened to score in the top of the second if not for a key defensive play from the Tigers. Crumbley hit a ball deep into center and attempted to reach third. Treadway hit cutoff man Kolby Robbins who fired off a perfect relay throw to Dalton Monroe on third who tagged out Crumbley.

Things were quiet in the third inning, but Grace found the scoreboard in the top of the fourth. The Rams drove in two runs in the top to take a 2-1 lead.

Rockwood kept their composure in the bottom of the fourth to score again. Dylan Williams singled followed by two walks to load the bases for the Tigers. Williams scored on a ground out from Monroe to tie the game at two.

The game turned into a pitching duel for the next five innings, with neither team having a chance to score. Rockwood pitchers Jimmy Vanosdale and Kyle VanPatten were crucial to the Tigers’ win. Vanosdale threw seven innings, and VanPatten closed the final two.

“I can’t say enough about Jimmy Vanosdale and Kyle VanPatten. These are two guys that we depend on, and they went out there and threw pitch after pitch in tough situations, and our defense was able to make plays behind them. They gave us a chance to win,” added Witter.

Much like an MLB game, the magic happened in the bottom of the ninth. Monroe singled on a grounder that snuck out of the infield. Treadway followed with a single that advanced Monroe to third.

Grace chose to intentionally walk McDermott to get to Kolby Robbins, who had not recorded a hit in either game. Robbins delivered when it counted, however, singling to drive home the winning run in walk-off fashion to give Rockwood the 3-2 victory.

“I just knew that I had to put the ball in play,” said Robbins. It feels great to beat Grace, and I cannot wait to see them again in the tournament.”

“It wasn’t a clean hit, but sometimes it isn’t about hitting it hard; it’s about hitting it in the right spot. He found a good spot to put it and we were able to push a guy across,” added Witter.

“Not only did this show our team that we can beat these guys, I think it turned some heads in the district as well.”
Monroe (2-5, 1 RBI, 1 run) and Treadway (3-5, 2 2Bs, 1 run) had multiple hits for Rockwood in the win.

Rockwood will play two games Thursday at Northview Academy in Kodak. The first will be against the host Cougars followed by a contest against Giles County.