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BASEBALL: Special day on the diamond for Brother Rice, Warriors grab sweep & dedicate field

   | Scott Burnstein

BASEBALL: Special day on the diamond for Brother Rice, Warriors grab sweep & dedicate field

TROY – It was a cold day around the area Saturday, but one that warmed the hearts of many at Birmingham Brother Rice.

Not only did the renowned Warriors diamond-cutting crew collect a doubleheader-sweep of Dearborn Divine Child, the program’s state-of-the-art new home field received an official dedication in a pre-game ceremony where players and families past and present came together to commemorate the much-awaited occasion.

Upping their record to 10-3 and sweeping their third straight twin-bill in Catholic League play, the Warriors took the first game, 12-1 and the finale 7-0.

Pounding out 17 hits on the day, Brother Rice is now 7-1 in action from the CHSL.

From the pitching mound, Warriors junior hurler Tommy Lentz was mowing hitters down like his last name was Verlander. Lentz spun a four-hit complete-game shutout in the second game, fanning a career-high nine and not surrendering a single walk.

Offensively, a slew of Brother Rice players were dialed-in for destruction on Saturday. Ace junior pitcher Matt Ruppenthal (Vanderbilt), a pro prospect on the rubber, was a demon at the dish, bashing three hits, a double, a home run and a team-high five RBI. Ruppenthal, who plays shortstop when he’s not throwing on the hill, has now launched four round-trippers this month.

Randy Righter and Johnny Garry had four hits and two RBI apiece on the afternoon, while star centerfielder Nick Plummer showed off his many gifts, garnering a single, a double, five runs scored and five stolen bases. Righter is a junior. Plummer and Garry are both sophomores.

Brother Rice demonstrated a collective keen eye at the plate, combining to draw 21 walks.

The program’s new field had a price tag of 1.7 million dollars and was completed last fall. Dating back to the early 1960s, the Warriors had never had their own home field, opting instead to play at St. James Park at the YMCA in Birmingham off Lincoln Avenue. The newly-constructed Troy-based facility (corner of Maple and Coolidge) is fitted with top-grade amenities, like an Astroturf infield and a pro-caliber backstop and outfield fence.  

Next on the schedule for Brother Rice is a clash on Monday with University Detroit-Jesuit for first-place bragging rights in the league race. The Warriors are in search of a repeat CHSL championship and their fourth crown in six years this spring.

Poised for a run at a state title as well, Brother Rice is chalk-full of college prospects and playmakers. Ruppenthal is just one of three underclassmen to already have accepted high-level Division I scholarships, joining sophomore south paw pitching prodigy Josh Smith (Kentucky) and junior slugger Ty Kiafoulis (Michigan).