By Mike Moore
Concord — Twice before, John Ropp has guided his Concord baseball team to this point in the postseason.
Twice before the Yellowjackets saw the playoffs come to a close one win shy of a spot in the final four.
Could the third time be the charm?
“The goal is to get to the semifinals,” Ropp said of his team. “We’re going to have to hit a little better than we have in the past quarterfinals we’ve been in. At the same time, all teams at this level are very solid. We may not be able to run the way we always like, and that’s a strength of ours. But we expect a tight game. It’s going to be fun.”
Concord, now 25-8, takes on Centreville at 5 p.m. at Bailey Park in Battle Creek.
The winner moves on to a 9 a.m. Division 4 state semifinal in East Lansing.
“This team is capable of winning a state title, I’ve said that all year,” Ropp said of his guys. “We’re in the right spot with our mental approach. Our hitting has come around. We have a lot going for us.”
The teams did face one another early in the spring, a 3-1 Centreville victory.
Ropp said he’s not looking too much into that, though.
Concord was coming off an emotional doubleheader the day before against Homer, and was playing without starting catcher Tony Brooks, and had two other regulars out of the lineup due to illness and prior commitments.
In Tuesday’s game, Ropp said he was leaning toward giving Jacob Randall the start on the mound.
In the regional semifinal, Randall was brilliant in a 4-2 victory against Climax-Scotts.
“This is all pretty cool,” Ropp said of being part of the final eight teams. Concord previously reached the quarters in 2012 and 2013. “We have a spectator bus for the first time ever. We expect a great atmosphere. I think in the past, we’ve been content to get to this point. Now we have to get past that. If we’re going to go to this game, we might as well win.”
Concord does have a couple seniors part of the 2016 squad who were with the 2013 team.
“We need their leadership to come forth,” Ropp added. “They have to show how we can’t be content to just get here.”
Mike Moore is a play-by-play commentator and Sports Writer for JTV Sports. You can reach him at email@example.com. He’s also the author of ‘Love, Defined; A Dedication to the Love, Sacrifice, and Magic of Motherhood.’
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