EAST LANSING – Before Mike Mokma took his place at first base to start the fifth inning, Holland Christian coach Jim Caserta told him to get ready.
Get ready to save the day.
Mokma threw three perfect innings of relief Friday to give Holland Christian a come-from-behind 4-3 victory over DeWitt in a Division 2 semifinal.
“He told me to start getting ready mentally,” said Mokma. “It’s staying in the game with every pitch, knowing what the hitters doing, what his swing is like.”
The hitters did nothing against Mokma, who entered the game in the fifth with no outs and a runner on third after DeWitt had taken a 3-2 lead.
Mokma, 6-feet-7, 215, who is signed with Michigan State, did more than just get out of the fifth inning without giving up a run. He struck out the side, making a statement that DeWitt (30-10-1) had no margin for error.
“The momentum swung from them to us,” he said. “So it was good.”
Brady Brower’s infield single in the top of the sixth tied the game and an inning later designated hitter Chase Dreyer was awarded first base on catcher’s interference.
“I’ve been having that recently,” Dreyer said. “Whenever I reach back – when my hands come back – I think my swing gets flat and then it hits the glove of the catcher. I’ve had the weird coincidence of it happening a few times.”
Dreyer sent a grounder to the right side, but he never saw it.
“I turned back to make sure the ump was going to give me the call,” he said. “You can feel it, your bat slows down a little bit.”
Pinch runner Cam Schut went to third on Brandon Riemersma’s single to right and scored the winning run on Josh Sterenberg’s sacrifice fly.
The rest was up to Mokma (14-0).
“We knew once we gave him a run, after seeing him pitch an inning or two, we knew we had it,” said Dreyer. “He’s got great stuff. It was good watching him finish it for us.”
Mokma retired the side in order to send the Maroons (35-6) into Saturday’s 9 a.m. championship game vs. Linden, a 5-2 winner over Dearborn Divine Child on Thursday.
“The objective was just to get the three outs; just to get us to Saturday,” he said. “The slider was working well, command of the fastball was good, hitting spots so that helps.”
It seemed like a bit of a gamble that Caserta started David Williams on the mound instead of Mokma. Pitchers are limited to 30 outs without two days of rest, meaning Mokma will have 21 outs when he starts Saturday’s championship game.
“Coming in, David was a little more rested than Mike was,” said Caserta. “Mike could have gone, but we felt like if we could give him a little more time, David was 100% and he’d been throwing well the last couple outings so we had full confidence in David. But when he got in trouble, we had to bring the other big guy in and he did pretty well, too.”
Contact Mick McCabe: 313-223-4744 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mickmccabe1.