Sun June 17, 2012
By Mike Penn
Earlier in the year PBR Michigan traveled to Rockford and saw Grand Rapids Christian win the Rockford Boosters Tournament. At the time, you got the sense that this team was on a mission. After losing a year ago to St. Clair, Grand Rapids Christian completed that mission at Bailey Park on Saturday.
Grand Rapids Christian came out swinging scoring one in the first frame. In the bottom half of the inning, Alex VandeVusse turned in one of the finest plays you will find. John Glenn's Sam Brooks smoked a hard ground ball toward first base. Right before reaching first base the ball took a bad hop but VandeVusse speared it barehanded, kept his composure and threw on two second base to get the first out. The relay back to first was low and VandeVusse dove to pick the ball, all the while maintaining his foot on first. An incredible play and you could feel the momentum in the stadium,
Give Bay City John Glenn credit. They scratched back to tie the score at one a piece. Led by catcher Zack Olszeski single to start the 4th. Sam Brooks then hit a sharp single to score Tyler Robbins, who entered the game as a pinch runner and stolen second base. With Brooks advancing to third on a Grand Rapids Christian throwing error and only one out, John Glenn seemed poised to take the lead. Enter Grand Rapids Christian shortstop and closer Kurt Hoekstra.
Hoekstra, a Western Michigan commit, who throws in the mid-80's and has a nasty slider slammed the door. Throwing back to back sliders put Hoekstra ahead in the count who then battled before throwing a final slider to freeze John Glenn hitter Brendan Seymour. Hoekstra then induced a groundball back to himself to retire the final hitter.
With momentum back on their side Grand Rapids Christian was ready to explode. However, give credit to Luke Scharich who held them in check in the fifth. Scharich on the day, tossed six innings, striking out six and only walking one.
Despite the efforts of a tough Bay City John Glenn team, this day ultimately belonged to Grand Rapids Christian. In the sixth, back to back singles by Joel Schipper and Taylor Pruis started it off. Hoekstra was intentionally walked to load them up. After a strike out, Alex VandeVusse stepped to the plate. Head coach Brent Gates put on the safety squeeze twice, testing the limits of the defense before he struck. At the next opportunity the suicide squeeze was on with the bases loaded. VandeVusse delivered, laying down the sacrifice and scoring Schipper. A gutsy call for sure and the Grand Rapids Christian Eagles lead 2-1. From there the Eagles tacked on two more runs and then added another two in the seventh.
Hoekstra, who struck out five batters allowed no hits or runs in three and two thirds innings, slammed the door in the seventh for the Grand Rapids Christian state title. Grand Rapids Christian finished the year 36-5 and as the Division 2 state champions.