Hope graduate Mike Rodgers of Saline, Mich. started and pitched six shutout innings in Moscow, Russia as "Team Rodgers" posted a 2-0 victory in a split squad game against the Russian National Team. Russian pitcher and Minnesota Twins minor leaguer Nikolay Lobanov finished off the last three innings without giving up a run for the combined shutout.
Rodgers was part of a U.S. pitching delegation that traveled to Russia for a series of games intended to prepare the Russian National Team for the European Championships, Europe's qualifier to the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.
He pitched in three games, twice in relief covering five innings and the start.
Rodgers was invited to be part of the U.S. pitching corp by the Iowa-based Russian International Baseball. The first-ever John Quincy Adams-American Labor Day Series is sponsored by the Russian Olympic Committee and the Russian Baseball Federation.
The tournament marks the 20th anniversary of Russian baseball and is also the Bicentennial of official diplomatic relations between the United States and Russia. The tournament honors former United State President John Quincy Adams who was the first U.S. minister to Russia in 1809.
The other America players are pitchers from the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball. The group is the first professional U.S. baseball-playing delegation to travel to Russia since 1989. Became became an official Russian sports in 1987.
Russian International Baseball (RIB) was founded in 1993 in Sioux City, Iowa to further the state of the game of baseball in its early years in the former Soviet Union. The organization assists Russia in the areas of developing and advancing their baseball programs through coaching, clinics, equipment, marketing and sponsorships.
The right-handed Rodgers was voted the most valuable pitcher in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) last spring. He posted a 7-3 record with a 2.42 earned run average with 69 strikeouts over 70 innings. He maintained a 1.15 ERA in conference games winning seven of eight decisions. His victory in Prague was over the Czech National Team.
"Mike was chosen for his prowess on the mound in his senior season and for his international experience as he traveled to the Czech Republic," said Bob Protexter, founder and president of the Russian International Baseball.
The Russian Baseball Federation will be providing meals and housing for the players at the Planernaya Olympic Center, in addition to round trip tickets from the United States. There will also be a Cultural Program day with trips to the Kremlin, Red Square, and the Olympic Stadium from the 1980 Summer Olympic Games.
The Planernaya Olympic Center in Moscow, Russia is an equestrian center where World Class competitions are held in the summer, and where World Class cross country competitions are held in the winter. The housing complex is an Olympic style 200 bed facility complete with cafeteria.
An accounting major at Hope, Rodgers will begin his professional career as a staff auditor for a Grand Rapids firm this fall.