Whitehall roars back to win Tier 1 city baseball title, ending Mona Shores’ title run

By Nate Thompson
LocalSportsJournal.com

MUSKEGON – It was beginning to feel like a spring ritual – Mona Shores winning the Greater Muskegon Athletic Association Tier 1 City Baseball Tournament.

But the Whitehall Vikings decided that enough was enough.

Ben VanSumeren delivers the pitch for Whitehall. Photo/Tim Reilly

The Vikings fell behind Mona Shores 5-2 after four innings of Saturday’s tournament championship game, then stunned the Sailors with eight unanswered runs to win 10-6 at Marsh Field and end the Sailors’ five-year winning streak.

Whitehall Coach Warren Zweigle said his team hasn’t won a city tournament championship since the late 90s, and this one comes at a good time.

“In all fairness, winning the championship hasn’t been our biggest goal because we’ve always been chasing a conference championship,” he said. “Unfortunately this year, we’ve worked our way out of the conference race, so we were able to put all of our resources into this. And I couldn’t be more excited.”

The Vikings took advantage of some breaks, but the heart of their batting order – one through five – was pivotal in the victory. They combined for seven hits and eight of the Vikings’ runs.

Austin Flowers makes the throw from shortstop for Mona Shores. Photo/Tim Reilly

Catcher Alec Milliron was the ring leader with a huge two-RBI triple in the fifth inning and a two-run double in the sixth that helped the Vikings build an 8-5 lead.

“I don’t even know what to say,” Milliron said after the win. “It seems like we always play Mona Shores, it’s always close and they always get by us a little bit. So to win this, it’s pretty sweet.”

Whitehall began to chip away at the Sailors’ early 4-0 cushion in the fourth, when Judd VanBergen connected on a two-run single. The Sailors got one back in the bottom of the fourth when Jake Wahlberg doubled and later scored on a wild pitch, giving Mona Shores a 5-2 lead.

The Vikings tied the game in the fifth, thanks to Milliron’s triple that reached the right-center fence, and a crafty suicide squeeze bunt that was executed perfectly by Haddan Young.

The key inning for the Vikings was the sixth, when they managed just one hit, but scored three runs, thanks to a pair of costly Sailors’ errors.

Lukas Evans gets ready to slide into home for Whitehall as catcher Ryan Gillings waits for the throw. Photo/Tim Reilly

“No doubt you have to have some breaks to win games like this,” Zweigle said.

Ethan Schaeffer gave the Vikings a 10-5 advantage in the seventh, when he blooped a single into right-center, scoring a pair.

Mona Shores added one more run, but couldn’t get any closer.

Milliron said he was confident the Vikings could close out the win, despite blowing a lead and losing to Sailors earlier this season, after giving up three runs in the bottom of the seventh to lose, 5-4.

“We had a five-run advantage this time, so we knew they couldn’t come back from that,” Milliron said.

VanSumeren started the game and pitched four innings, before being relieved by Shaeffer in the fifth. But in a rare move, Zweigle re-inserted VanSumeren in the sixth to finish the job.

“He’s a competitor, he’s a battler and he got the job done,” Zweigle said about VanSumeren.

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