BRIGHTON — It might have been opening day for the Brighton baseball team, but the Bulldogs’ bats were in midseason form against Ann Arbor Pioneer on Saturday.
Trevor Hopman led the way in the opener, when he homered on the first pitch he saw of the 2017 season, finishing the game with two more doubles and four RBIs in a 9-1 victory.
In the nightcap, Brighton erupted for nine runs in the fifth, capped by Austin Ford’s three-run shot, as the Bulldogs mercied Pioneer 14-4.
“It’s the first one of my high school career,” Ford said afterward, smiling. “I had one my freshman year, an inside-the-park-one, but I wanted one outside the fence.”
A brisk breeze blowing out on a sunny day helped, but the Bulldogs also banged out 25 hits.
“We pitched pretty well and played good defense, for the most part,” Brighton coach Charlie Christner said. “We swung the bat a lot better than I expected us to today.”
Brighton also got strong performances from Tommy Coughlin, who pitched 6 1/3 innings in the opener, and Rudy Ramirez, who went all six innings in the second game, which was shortened to six by the mercy rule.
“The guys were pretty comfortable with the pitch count,” Christner said. “With these two starters, we needed to make sure they were stretched a little bit.”
Ford and Hopman batted 1-2 in the Brighton order, as they did last year They combined for 11 hits. Hopman’s homer marked the second year in a row he homered in his first at-bat of the season, although last year’s homer didn’t come on the first pitch he saw.
Nonetheless, the Bulldogs had other goals Saturday.
“We have nine returneres and nine new kids, so getting two wins today kind of set the tone,” Hopman said. “The new guys didn’t know what to expect, but we’re a program tht wins a lot, and we expect to win, so it’s a big deal to come out here and get a mercy (win).”
After three weeks of practice and a cancellation on Thursday, the Bulldogs will play four more game next week as they start the KLAA season.
Brighton will be home Monday against Waterford Kettering, play two at Pinckney on Wednesday and play host to Lakeland on Thursday.
“We wanted to set the tone,” Hopman said. “It will be good to walk in with two wins under our belt.”