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Rams Capture District Title in Baseball

By Jeannie Gregory, 06/03/19, 10:15PM EDT


The 2019 MHSAA D1 District 8 Champion Rockford Ram Baseball Team ~ Photo by Jeannie Gregory

Rams top northview 4-2 to claim district title

GRAND RAPIDS – The Rockford varsity baseball team took on the Northview Wildcats on their own turf for the MHSAA D1 Baseball District title game, Monday, June 1. The Rams showed plenty of poise as they worked their way to a 4-2 victory that had them bringing home medals and the district trophy. The Rams are now 24-9 on the season.

“I am really proud of our guys,” shares head coach Matt Vriesenga. “We have battled and practiced hard all year. We have played a tough schedule and it has helped us. It was a great team win.”

Northview struck first, plating two runs in the top of the third, but the Rams answered immediately in the bottom of the stanza. Senior Joe Kelley started the offense with a single to centerfield. A couple of walks by Cody Sterkenburg and Grant Martin, an error and a bunt found Kelley scoring the first Ram run. A single by Alex Miller scored McLean to knot the game at 2-2.

It would remain that way until the bottom of the sixth when Miller hit another single to ignite the Rams. Miller promptly stole second to set the stage for some heroics from the bat of Owen Cairns, who hit a line drive to left scoring Miller. Jake Engelkes hit a sacrifice bunt to advance Cairns to second, and he moved to third on a passed ball and then alertly took home on a wild pitch to move the score to 4-2.

It was all the Rams would need as Ram pitcher Luke McLean expertly handled the Wildcat hitters in the top of the seventh to secure the win. McLean went all seven innings giving up only two runs on four hits and three walks, while striking out five. The Rams were 6-for-22 at the plate, with Miller going 2-for-3 with an RBI and Kelley going 2-for-3 to pace the Rams. Cairns notched a hit and an RBI and Caleb Engelsman had a hit.

“Owen Cairns has been our leadoff hitter all year and has struggled a bit in the lad off spot the last couple of weeks,” says Vriesenga. “We made a change tonight and moved him to the seventh spot and he came up huge when we needed the big hit. We have told our guys all year, you will get out more than you will get on. Figure out how you deal with failure because it’s going to happen a lot. You may go 0-3 in your first three at bats, but you will get that fourth bat and you need to be able to go up there with confidence to get that big hit. Owen did that tonight.”

The Rams now advance to Regional play where they will face off against the Bucs at Grand Haven, Wednesday, June 5 at 5 p.m.

Head coach Matt Vriesenga talks to the Rams after their victory. ~ Photo by Jeannie Gregory

~ Photo by Jeannie Gregory

~ Photo by Jeannie Gregory

~ Photo by Jeannie Gregory

~ Photo by Jeannie Gregory

The Rams hoist their district championship trophy. ~ Photo by Jeannie Gregory