Division 2 Team Of The Week: Week 4 - Forest Hills Eastern

Bruce Hefflinger
PBR Michigan Senior Writer

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Division 2 Team Of The Week: Week 4 - Forest Hills Eastern

FOREST HILLS - Ian Hearn has the defending D-2 state champions playing well again and having fun along the way, even with a target on their backs.

“Every game is enjoyable,” explained the head coach of Forest Hills Eastern, the Prep Baseball Report Division 2 Team of the Week. “We’re just putting our focus on trying to improve and be better later on. That’s our goal.”

So far so good, with 12 wins in 14 games to date including a 3-1 mark this past week. The Hawks defeated Grand Rapids Catholic Central 4-1 and 5-2 before falling 9-7 in a game the defense struggled. But Forest Hills Eastern rebounded in a big way with a 9-6 win over Portage Northern, then led 5-0 after four innings before the second game was postponed on Friday.

“We’re improving on our consistency,” noted Hearn. “We’re doing a really good job of getting hits with guys in scoring position.”

Jacob Pallo is leading the way at the plate with a .444 average, featuring four doubles including two in the win over Portage Northern. But it was on the mound that the first team all-state performer from a year ago stood out in the 4-1 victory over Catholic Central. The 38th-rated senior right-handed pitcher in Michigan, a Hillsdale commit, fired a four-hitter with 14 strikeouts and just one walk, improving his season record to 3-0 with a 0.778 ERA.

Senior Owen Mast came through with 1.2 innings of no-hit relief for the save in game two against Catholic Central, fanning three.

But the future is also bright when it comes to pitching for the Hawks. Landen Lindley, a 6-3 200-pound sophomore right-hander, is 3-0 with a 1.75 ERA while freshman Cam Pollo had a one-hit shutout going through four against Portage Northern before weather brought on the cancellation.

“Our pitchers are battling, doing well with everything that’s entailed with pitching, working ahead in counts, controlling the run game and fielding their position,” Hearn said.

The hitters are also performing well, with a team batting average of .322 so far for the fourth-ranked Division 2 team in Michigan.

Max Ferrick is batting .434 with 13 RBIs, showing off power with a pair of doubles, triples and home runs. The seven-rated sophomore outfielder in the state is getting plenty of help with outfielder Drew Patton hitting .370 and Matt Stotts, the 16th-ranked junior catcher in Michigan who also plays corner infield for the Hawks, averaging .359. Sophomore shortstop Brendan Thompson, the third-rated 2025 shortstop in the state, is batting .338 with 14 runs scored while senior center fielder Collin Fridsma is at .321 with 15 runs scored.

“We have a good balance of returnees and good underclassmen,” related Hearn. “The learning curve is big which makes it more fun.”

Thompson had two hits in the 4-1 win over Catholic Central and a double in the weather-shortened game against Portage Northern while Ferrick had two hits and drove in three runs in the loss to Catholic Central. Fridsma and Cam Pollo added a pair of hits in defeat with Stotts and senior Walker Brockie producing two hits apiece in the win over Portage Northern. Fridsma also drove in a pair in the four-inning game with Catholic Central with sophomore catcher James Dempsey and junior Owen Nies each recording a hit and RBI.

“We just need consistent improvement,” Hearn said about keys to making another strong tournament run. “It will require continued growth to compete at a high level. We also need to be able to respond positively when we have bumps in the road.”

With the first game of this week against Whitehall rained out, the 18th-rated team in the state in the PBR Power 25 ratings has games ahead with Thornapple-Kellogg on Tuesday for a DH and Thursday for a single game before a doubleheader on Saturday versus Portage Central.