By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Few upperclassmen receive the opportunity to make the memories Luke McLean made as a sophomore on the Rockford baseball team last season.
But at the end, he was just hoping to do his part to make more for the seniors who led the Rams to the Division 1 Baseball Semifinals at McLane Stadium.
McLean, batting fifth and playing third base, helped Rockford deadlock Macomb Dakota 2-2 after six innings on June 13. McLean then moved to the mound, where he threw two scoreless innings – and received the win after also sprinting home to score the winning run in the bottom of the eighth.
The run, making the final score 3-2, was the second scored by McLean on the day. He also struck out two and allowed just one hit over his two innings throwing in relief as Rockford moved on to the Division 1 Final.
McLean reached base in the eighth with his lone hit on the day. After advancing to second on a fielder’s choice, he took off for third on teammate Owen Cairns’ hopper through the grass in front of third base. McLean circled around the bag and took off for home on the throw trying to get Cairns at first, and slid safely ahead of the throw attempting to beat him to the plate.
“All that was going through my mind was my seniors,” McLean said moments after his winning sprint. “I was playing for them. I really wanted to play for them in the state championship, and I was just busting my tail down that line to score.”
Although Rockford went on to fall in the Final to Portage Northern, it was the Rams’ second championship game appearance and first since 2011.
Check out coverage of the Semifinal from Second Half and see below for Rockford’s winning score from the NFHS Network.