File Photo by Jeannie Gregory
ST CLAIR – It’s always good to have the hammer in baseball. In the Little League Majors State Tournament Rockford found that out as Ash Carleton kept running away with the lead and Rockford kept reeling them back in at the bottom of the innings. The game was tied three different times, with the last one occurring in the sixth with the teams knotted with seven runs each.
At that point, Rockford’s Michael Skarda set the stage in pitching relief in the top of the sixth quieting some very potent Ash Carleton bats – giving up only one single in the stanza, while fanning three. The fans were on the edge of their seats in the bottom of the inning as Payton Skarda knocked a single to third. He was followed by Michael Skarda, who rapped a single to center. Jonny Rohen-Blanton showed patience at the plate and drew a walk to load the bases with no outs. Gabe Stouffer stepped up to the plate and knocked the first pitch to center to score the winning run in the game and notch a walk-off single.
It was an extremely exciting game that featured not one, but two Rockford homeruns. Both Haiden Noakes and Michael Skarda went yard during the game, with both results a tie - with Skarda knotting the game at 3-3, and Noakes at 5-5 to keep their team in the game.
Rockford was looking at a 3-run deficit after the top of the first in an inning that found Ash Carleton making quick work of scoring some runs. But, Rockford showed steady at the plate and answered with three runs of their own to tie it back up 3-3. Lead-off hitter Andrew Landis started it with a single to center field, followed by Payton Skarda’s single to left. Michael Skarda stood at the plate and sent a rocket to center to blast a homer on an 0-2 pitch to tally a three-RBI hit.
The team again tied it up at 5-5 in the bottom of the fourth, with Connor Courtney earning a free pass, and Haiden Noakes knocking a homerun to center on a 1-2 pitch to tally two RBI and knot the game. Rockford fell behind again in the top of the fifth when Ash Carleton scored two runs, and Rockford answered again in the bottom of the inning to tie it again at 5-5.
Rockford was 14-for-29 at the plate, with Michael Skarda going 2-for-3 with a homerun and three RBI. Gabe Stouffer was 2-for-3 with an RBI, and Haiden Noakes was 1-for-2 with a homerun and two RBI. Payton Skarda and Andrew Landis were both 2-for-4. Jonny Rohen-Blanton, Jordan Eck (double), and Jack Lockwood each registered a hit apiece. A true team effort, Rockford utilized the talents of three pitchers – Quinn Bentley, Connor Courtney, and Michael Skarda to claim the victory, with Michael Skarda registering the win.
Rockford moves to the finals of the state tournament Wednesday, July 25 at noon. They will play the winner of Bay City and a familiar foe, Grosse Point Woods Shores, who was in their group during pool play.
Tag(s): Rockford Little League