On a day when the Grand Rapids Community College baseball team celebrated past champions, the current squad showed it can provide thrills of its own.
GRCC shutdown Calvin University 8-0 in the second game of a doubleheader, and fought for a 3-3 tie in the opener when Max Varon launched a pinch-hit, three-run homer in games played at LMCU Ballpark, home of the West Michigan Whitecaps.
A three-run second inning by Calvin University in the opener put the Knights on board, and the lead looked to stand headed into the final inning. Varon’s fourth homer of the season with two men aboard sent the game into extra innings.
GRCC loaded the bases twice in extra innings, but were unable to score. Neither could Calvin, and the game was called after nine innings tied at 3-3.
In the nightcap, GRCC spread out 12 hits among 10 different batters, including season firsts from Brady Owen, Alex Liakos and Melvin Rodriguez.
On the day, Ryan Dykstra led GRCC with four hits in seven at-bats and two walks. Caleb Engelsman, Dylan Chargo, Xander Reisbig, Payton Young and Varon all contributed with two hits each.
Ten different Raiders took the mound, with Kellan Smith picking up the win in game two.
The afternoon was a celebration of GRCC athletics past and present. Nearly 20 players and coaches from the NJCAA National Champion teams from 1996 and 1997 recognized between games.
Coached by Hall-of-Famer Doug Wabeke, the teams were the first GRCC teams from any sport to win a national championship.
The alumni threw out the ceremonial first pitch to current Raiders.
The game also featured volleyball player Alena Visnovsky performing the national anthem, softball pitcher Izabella Renger, throwing to battery mate Taylor Cross, and recognition for members of GRCC cross country, basketball, and golf teams.
The baseball team is now 15-20-1 on the season with a four-game series against conference opponent Glen Oaks Community College on April 22-23.