Rockets swing hot bats, down EL-G in regional opener

by Greg Ceilley of The Review staff


DAVID NIEBAUER of Cedar Grove dives back safely to first as Elkhart Lake first baseman Stuart Zelle awaits the pickoff throw from pitcher Derek Weiss in Wednesday’s regional baseball game. — Review photo by Greg Ceilley DAVID NIEBAUER of Cedar Grove dives back safely to first as Elkhart Lake first baseman Stuart Zelle awaits the pickoff throw from pitcher Derek Weiss in Wednesday’s regional baseball game. — Review photo by Greg Ceilley CEDAR GROVE – The Cedar Grove-Belgium Rockets exploded for five runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to key an 8-0 win over the Elkhart Lake-Glenbeulah Resorters in a regional baseball first-round game here Wednesday evening.

Sophomore Brett Michaels spearheaded the Rockets’ 13-hit attack with a 3-for-4 effort at the plate. Drew Emperley and Brandon O’Neil added two hits each. O’Neil, Tyler Falk and David Niebauer had a team-high two RBIs apiece.

“We had a pretty good performance. These guys all year-long have been motivated in each practice and game,” said Rocket head coach Mike Ruppel.

Ruppel said his No. 3-seeded team wasn’t looking past the 14thseeded Resorters who were winless this season (0-23) while the Rockets were the Central Lakeshore Conference co-champions.

Elkhart hung tough with the Rockets until they got their bats going in the fifth after leading only 3-0 through four. Emperley and Spencer Bares started the fifth with back-to-back singles. O’Neil followed with double to right-center field which drove in Emperly and upped the Rockets’ lead to 4-0.

Stuart Zelle then came into relieve Resorter starting pitcher Derek Weiss. Falk, a freshman, greeted Zelle with a double down the right-field line which knocked in Bares and O’Neil to make it 6-0.

Michaels followed with a double to right-center which plated Falk. David Niebauer’s bloop single brought home Mkichaels which upped Cedar Grove’s advantage to 8-0.

The Rockets jumped out to a 3-0 lead in thr first. Christian O’Donnell lined a leadoff single and Emperley followed with a scorching base hit which put runners at first and third. Emperley stole second and then Bares drove in O’Donnell with a single.

O’Neil batted next and knocked in Emperley with a base hit to make it 2-0. Michaels’ one-out single loaded the bases. With two away, Niebauer drew a walk which brought in Bares for the third run.

The Resorters put runners on in the first six innings but were unable to get the clutch hits. Their best scoring opportunity came in the third. A.J. Klemme and Tyler Jones drilled back-to-back singles with one out to put runners at first and second.

Cody Wilterdink followed with a walk which filled the bases. Jed Hersey then hit a sharp grounder which turned into a 6-4-3 double play which ended the inning.

Justin Obbink earned a shutout as he allowed seven hits and four walks while striking out four.

“Justin had struggled at the end of the season and it was nice to see him bounce back. He did a nice job,” said Ruppel.

Ruppel was also pleased with his defense which committed zero errors, made some nice plays and turned two double plays.

A.J. Jones led the Resorters’ bats with a 3-for-3 performance.

Derek Weiss took the loss. Weiss started and went four innings – allowing six runs (all earned) on eight hits with two walks and one strikeout. Zelle finished up and gave up two earned runs on five hits with no walks and two strikeouts in two frames.

The Rockets were upset by No. 11-seeded Two Rivers in the regional finals, 6-1, on Friday in Cedar Grove.

ELKHART LAKE 0

CEDAR GROVE 8

Score by Innings
Elkhart Lake..........000 000 0 – 0 7 1
Cedar Grove..........300 050 x – 8 13 0
Justin Obbink and Brandon O’Neil;
Derek Weiss, Stuart Zelle (5) and Elliot
Van Oss. W – Obbink L – Derek Weiss.
2Bs – Cedar Grove, O’Neil, Brett Mic_ haels, Tyler Falk.


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