Valiant efforts from juniors Matthew Mittlestadt and Joe Seurynck aren’t enough to push varsity baseball past Lowell

Valiant+efforts+from+juniors+Matthew+Mittlestadt+and+Joe+Seurynck+aren%27t+enough+to+push+varsity+baseball+past+Lowell

Juniors Matthew Mittlestadt and Joe Seurynck knocked the cork and rubber out of the ball against Lowell in a doubleheader contest filled with speed bumps.

“Even though Matthew and I hit it pretty well today, other guys also hit at a high level as well,” Joey said. “Our hitting affected the game very much because it put guys in scoring positions and allowed for our other teammates to drive in the runs to keep us in the game.”

Joe’s five RBI’s, along with a crucial triple and single from Matthew, opened up the door for the defense to close out both games. However, uncharacteristic errors ate away FHC’s momentum and ultimately pulled them farther and farther away from Lowell.

In the first game, junior Noah Smith capitalized on a passed ball and scored the first run of the day. On the mound, Joe started for the Rangers and only gave up an RBI double and single in the fourth inning. Once the coaches decided to bring in senior Joey Wise to relieve Joe in the bottom of the fifth, the Ranger defense morphed into a stalwart force. To wrap up the fifth inning, Joey struck out two players with swift pitches.

Joey, who is committed to Rock Valley College next year to play baseball, is the type of pitcher with the capability to pitch his defense towards a ton of shutout innings single-handedly. Applying this philosophy to the diamond, Joey didn’t let any Red Arrow get on base in the bottom of the sixth. Joey’s veteran presence on the mound paved a path for the Ranger offense to cash in. FHC did just that, as senior Logan VanLente drove in a runner with an RBI base hit to tie the game up at two.

Entering the bottom of the seventh with the score standing at 2-2, all of the pieces were in place for an epic defensive stand. In a quick turn of events, though, the Red Arrows hit a single, stole second, got to third on a groundout, and eventually nailed one to the fence to walk off FHC in a 3-2 defensive tug-of-war battle. Head coach Todd Hartman knew he would have to rally his team for the second game using a healthy dose of positive reinforcement.

“We made several good plays in the field today, and as a team, we improved our approaches at the plate,” coach Todd Hartman said. “Prior to the start of the second game, we refocused as a group and discussed ways to improve.”

With redemption on their mind, the boys took coach Hartman’s word to heart and rushed out of the gates for an electric game two. Matthew was given the nod to start the second game, and he was poised to translate his offensive prowess to the mound. Despite letting up a walk and a hit, Matthew struck out two batters to dig himself out of the ditch. By the time the bottom of the fourth came rolling around, FHC had garnered a commanding 6-0 lead behind the multiple RBI’s from Joe, senior Nathan Sigg, and junior Joe Robertson. On top of the numerous runs scored, senior Alec Gast’s entry onto the mound during the top of the fifth seemed like a perfect safety cushion to close out the game. Unfortunately for Alec, his two consecutive walks in the top of the sixth marked the end of his day on the mound. Junior Kaeden Palmitier took the reigns for him, which settled down the defense for the time being. Thanks to an acrobatic diving catch by Nathan, FHC maintained a 6-5 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth.

The bottom of the sixth at the plate, though, would erupt into nothing more than a quick 1-2-3 inning. Lowell took advantage of three errors from there on out, bringing the game to a 6-6 stalemate at the top of the seventh. Lowell’s late-game surge didn’t stop there, as they catapulted themselves into an RBI-induced 7-6 lead. Regardless of Lowell’s sixth inning heroics, the Rangers still had air to breathe in the bottom of the seventh. Nevertheless, they couldn’t pull off a seventh-inning victory lap on the bases, resulting in a crushing 7-6 defeat.

It goes without saying the boys will use these two late-game collapses as motivation for upcoming games; coach Hartman believes they will progress and develop to the point where they will thrive in these crunch time scenarios. Next up on the docket, the boys are set to play Grand Rapids Christian in a doubleheader on Monday, April 26.

“Each practice, we focus on certain aspects of the game,” coach Hartman said. “And each day, we continue to stress consistency out of our pitchers, make the routine plays by our defense, and have good approaches at the plate offensively.”