EAST LANSING – Holland Christian’s Mike Mokma was cruising with a four-run lead, allowing only one hit over the first three innings. And then came the fourth.
Linden managed five runs on three hits as the Maroons committed three errors, but panic never set in with the 6-foot-7 ace.
Mokma struck out 14 batters and allowed only four hits Saturday morning as Christian rallied for an 8-5 victory to claim the Division 2 state championship.
Christian (36-6) took the lead in the bottom of the sixth when Chase Dreyer smacked a one-out double to right. Following a passed ball, Brandon Riemersma laid down a perfect suicide squeeze bunt.
“That was the first successful one I’ve had,” Riemersma said. “I was a little nervous, but coach had confidence in me so I had to be confident in myself.”
Riemersma was able to be confident because the suicide squeeze is a staple in the Christian attack.
“We practice it every single day in batting practice,” he said. “We’ll do a round of BP and at the end coach will say suicide bunts and everyone will get a couple of pitches, no matter where they are, we have to work on getting them down.”
A one-run lead was nice, but Mokma, who signed with Michigan State, turned it into a three-run advantage when he laced a double down the leftfield line.
“I’ve been in a slump lately and I just wanted to hit the ball hard,” he said. “I got up there, got a little mad and hit it hard, right on the line. I couldn’t have done it without the suicide squeeze.”
Mokma (15-0) had no difficulty retiring the final three Linden (29-10-1) batters in order.
“I wanted the last three outs,” he said. “I wanted to get them out. I was a little pumped.”
Over the course of the game, Mokma struck out two batters in all seven innings.
“I knew I throwing pretty well, I didn’t know I was throwing that well,” he said. “Command of the fastball was working well. The slider was really good today and the little changeup was good, too. So it was all working.”
When the final out was recorded, Mokma gave a chest pound over his heart toward his brother, Chris, the freshman first baseman.
“It’s something else, I’ll tell you what,” Mokma said. “I’ve been playing with his since I was 5 or 6 and now I’m 18 and a senior in high school and I’m still playing with him.”
Contact Mick McCabe: 313-223-4744 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @mickmccabe1.