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Rockers players spring into action for police assist

By Greg Bates
Sports editor

GREEN BAY – After less than three months playing together, the Green Bay Rockers players created a tight bond on the field, but the crew strengthened that bond off the field after a recent road trip.
Returning to Green Bay on a bus from Fond du Lac at about 12:30 a.m. on Aug. 6, the Rockers players were thrown into an interesting situation.

Outfielder Griffin Stevens was sitting next to second baseman Tristin Garcia as the bus pulled off Highway 41 on their way to Capital Credit Union Park so the players could retrieve their vehicles.
Outfielder Matt Scannell was also sitting near his teammates.

The Rockers players noticed a cluster of police vehicles in the distance with their lights and sirens on.
The guys figured the Packers had had a night practice at Lambeau Field and thought nothing about the police presence.

Just a couple minutes later, things turned chaotic for the Rockers players.

Garcia’s girlfriend was in the players’ parking lot at the Rockers’ stadium waiting for the team to arrive.
“As we were about to pull back into the lot, Tristin’s girlfriend texted him and was like, ‘Hey, I’m scared. There were cops with flashlights and now they’re gone. But a guy just came out from the woods and he’s looking in peoples’ cars,’” Stevens recalled. “He just came up to her car and told her, ‘Unlock the car. I need to use your phone.’”

Not knowing who this person was, Garcia’s girlfriend didn’t want to let the stranger in her car. The stranger proceeded to climb onto the top of the car and attempted to gain entry through the sunroof, however, it was closed.

“We were looking towards her car and we saw him and he started to run to the compost plant behind our field,” said Stevens, who attends Tiffin University. “As soon as the bus stopped, Scannell and Tristin and I rushed towards the front of the bus, because we were the ones that knew about it.

“Matt, because he’s a pretty big Texan at heart, had a knife on him and Tristin grabbed a bat.”
Scannell, who plays baseball at Princeton University, was ready to chase after the perpetrator.
Garcia was right there with him.

Stevens was in the second wave of players going after the guy and the rest of the team followed.

“I took my jersey off, so I had my baseball pants on, shoes, eye black on and no shirt,” Scannell said. “I just took off after the kid. I figured like (he’s) probably not up to any good if he’s running and the cops are around the area. It’s a dead end back there, so he just got stuck in the corner. There were cops everywhere, so they pulled up pretty much immediately, because Tristin’s girlfriend had called the cops.”

Scannell and Garcia stopped a distance away with the perpetrator cornered and nowhere to escape as police officers arrived on scene.

With guns drawn, police handcuffed the man and took him into custody.

Garcia couldn’t stick around too long because he had to jump into the car with his girlfriend and get back to Western Kentucky University.

Speaking with police following the arrest, Stevens was told that officers were searching for the guy a little earlier that evening.

“When we went back over there to check out everything, we talked to the cop and he’s like, ‘What are you guys doing around here?’” Stevens said. “We said, ‘We just got back from our game at Fond du lac, and we saw this guy who looked pretty suspicious and was banging on one of the guy’s girlfriends car.’ We followed him and he’s like, ‘Can you retrace your steps from where he was coming from, because he may have been ditching a weapon of some sort.’ He thought he was in possession of a weapon for an armed burglary of vehicles and stuff.”

It didn’t take long for news about the intense situation with his team to travel to Rockers General Manager John Fanta.

“I saw some of the videos and it was wild,” he said.

Fanta was proud of his guys for helping the police.

“It shows that they’re a close-knit family,” Fanta said. “It’s towards the end of the year now, but everybody here will have each other’s backs. I think that’s one of our mission statements as an organization is to have each other’s back, and they definitely did that. That was a pretty cool thing to see.”

It was a captivating ordeal to be involved with for Stevens.

“It was a good way to end the night after what was happening to us at Fond du lac that night,” Stevens said. “We got our butts kicked a little bit. I think we started a winning streak after that, so maybe it was a good karma thing.”

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