Knights in Kalamazoo
Published 5:49 pm Tuesday, June 22, 2004
The Niles Junior Baseball Knights won the Kalamazoo Invitational at River Oaks Park this past weekend.
In the first Friday night, the Knights defeated the Kalamazoo Kobras 20-2. Jacob Drudge got the win for the Knights with Jeff Jurgonski picking up his third. save.
Alex Welch led the Knights offensively, going 4-for-5 with a double and a triple. Keith Prak and Drudge both were 3-for-5 at the plate with Drudge hitting two home runs.
In game two the Knights faced the tough West Michigan Lumberkings and came away with a 3-2 victory. Jake Harris was the winning pitcher with Jamie Simpson coming on in the sixth inning for the save.
Kyle Prak was 2-for-2 and hit another in-the-park home run, his sixth homer of the season. Catcher Dan Holland went 3-for-3 at the plate. Simpson, Keith Prak, Harris and Nick Fedore also had hits for the Knights.
In game three the Knights unleashed a 21-hit barrage and defeated the Michigan Wild 16-4 to earn a spot in the semifinals. Winning moundsman David Ralston went the distance for Niles, striking out nine. Kyle Prak and Simpson both homered for Niles. Getting three hits apiece for the Knights were Kyle Prak, Simpson, Keith Prak, Fedore, Holland and Ralston.
The Knights then defeated the Southwest Michigan Cobras 12-1 to advance to the championship game. Fedore was the winning pitcher and was 2-for-2 at the plate. Simpson and Drudge both homered for Niles.
In the championship game Niles faced Bo's Braves from Grand Rapids. The Braves scored first when their leadoff batter was hit by a pitch, stole second and scored on a single by the next batter. The score remained 1-0 until the fourth inning when Niles' Simpson led off with a double, stole third and scored on a passed ball. Keith Prak then doubled, advanced to third on a single by Fedore and scored on a balk.
The Braves tied the game up in the bottom of the fourth when the leadoff hitter was again hit by a pitch and scored on a single.
The Knights took the lead for good in the sixth inning when Drudge led off with a single, stole second and scored on a single by Harris. The Braves threatened in the bottom of the sixth, having bases loaded and one out. The next batter hit a fly ball to right that was caught by Keith Prak who the threw out the runner trying to score from third.
Niles put the game out of reach in the top of the seventh on a three-run homer by Simpson, scoring Kyle Prak and Welch, then allowing only one Brave run in the bottom of the inning.
Also getting hits for Niles were Welch and D.J. Wolnik. The final score was 6-3 with Simpson getting the win and striking out eight.
The Knights, now 36-5 overall, will play in the State Tournament next weekend in Canton.