Rockets spoil long-awaited German baseball opener | High School Baseball – QCVarsity.com
After several false starts, Jerry Burkhead’s second era of practice began late Friday afternoon with the season opener of the German High School baseball team.
But on a cold, windy day at the Alleman Athletic Complex in Moline, the Rockridge Rockets crushed Burkhead’s welcome party in a big way, earning a five-inning 14-1 win over the Pioneers.
Opening with four runs early in the first set, Rockridge (2-1) first had to fend off a rally from Alleman in the opening half, then nailed two runs in the third and fourth before finishing with a six- run the fifth inning.
“We worked a lot on our approach to home plate, wanting our hitters to swing on good pitches every time,” said Rockridge freshman coach Ryan Pace, whose club had also hit double digits. in a 13-3 win. on Mercer County last Monday.
“We want to get the most out of every at-bat. We don’t want guys chasing balls that are up or flipping on the pitches.”
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Early in the first on a windswept Gene Oliver Field, the Rockets worked German starting pitcher Nathan Noble for three walks and suffered a pair of errors to come back 4-0 as Kameron Bohnsack and Bryan Blumenstein have each hit in runs.
However, the Pioneers got one of those runs in the home half of first when Jackson Praet worked Rockridge pitcher Aiden Leemans for a first walk.
After stealing second and taking third on crazy ground, Praet scored on Chance Carruthers’ sacrifice fly to make it 4-1. This was followed by Noble putting the Rockets in order early in the second inning.
“It was a beacon of hope for us,” Burkhead said. “Also, we had their starting pitcher go 60 in three innings.”
After the third inning, however, Leemans (1-0) put the Pioneers in fourth-and-fifth order as the senior ace struck out seven straight batters to complete a one-hit, five-out performance at the stick.
“My thing was to go out there, throw strikes and locate my pitches,” said Leemans, who calmed down after walking three and hitting a batter in the first three innings. “I have a good team behind me so I just needed to cut down the steps and hammer the area.
“My whole thought process was to help the team, not myself. As captain, I also needed to get the team’s energy up before the game.”
The Rockets began to add to their lead with two third-inning runs on an RBI single from Tyler Hendley and an RBI double from Seth Kramer. They added two more in the fourth, highlighted by Evan DeKeyrel’s home robbery.
In the top of the fifth, Rockridge fielded 10 batters and scored six times to open the game as Tyler Thiem and Kramer’s RBI doubles (2-for-4) were sandwiched around a two-run single by Kaden Hall (2- for 3).
“If we can keep performing like this, I see great things for this team,” Leemans said. “I look forward to the rest of the year.
For Burkhead, who returned to Alleman’s dugout after initially stepping down after the 2021 season, just seeing his side on the pitch was a win in itself.
“I told the guys after the game, it was just exciting to play after several rains and about 20 practices,” said Burkhead, whose club quickly returns to action when they host Ridgewood on Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m.
“The main thing was for us to play and be at bat against live pitchers. And the beauty of baseball is that we can play again tomorrow.”