Montague baseball team makes school history, despite loss in quartefinals

By Mitchell Boatman
LocalSportsJournal.com

GRAND RAPIDS – The Montague baseball team made school history just by taking the field on Tuesday.

For the first time ever, the Wildcats advanced to the quarterfinal round of the Division 3 state tournament.

Unfortunately for the Wildcats, their historic run ended with a 10-1 loss to Schoolcraft at Davenport University on Tuesday night.

“It just wasn’t our day,” said Montague coach Kevin Buchberger, whose team finished the season with a 24-13 record. “What a great year we had this year. It’s the farthest we’ve went in school history. Hopefully this drives the rest of the team to come back harder next year.”

Montague managed just three hits against Schoolcraft hurler Mark Shank, who racked up eight strikeouts in a complete game effort.

“We just couldn’t get anything going offensively against Shank,” Buchberger said. “He threw well today, a lot of strikes. We knew what was coming. That fastball was coming, we just couldn’t catch up to it.”

Schoolcraft opened the scoring in the third inning, taking advantage of several Wildcat miscues. The Eagles managed to score six times in the inning with just three hits. Montague committed four errors and issued three walks to help crowd the base paths.

“A couple walks, a couple errors, and next thing you know you’ve got a six-run inning,” Buchberger said. “They’re a good, scrappy team. They did what it takes to win.”

Schoolcraft added a run in the fourth to go up 7-0. Montague scored its lone run in top of the sixth on an RBI single from Luke Marsh, scoring Zachary Buchberger.

The Eagles quieted any comeback hopes with three runs of their own in the bottom of the sixth.

Marsh, Buchberger, and Nick Steever all had base hits for Montague.

Remington Schneider started on the mound for Montague. He limited hard contact, but struggled with command, walking five and hitting a batter in three innings of work.

Dalton Adams led Schoolcraft with a double, a triple and two RBIs. Shank and Jack Hunt also had two hits apiece.

The Wildcats, who expect to return all but two players next spring, are primed for another deep run in 2019. Buchberger is the lone senior, and junior Braden Johnson will be gone in a foreign exchange program.

“Other than (those two), everybody’s coming back next year,” Coach Buchberger said. “We have a lot of good baseball players on the team. They all want to get better.

”We told the kids to take it all in, to learn from this. Hopefully it drives them to work hard and get back here next year.”

The season was a turnaround story for Montague, which started out 5-9, but then caught fire and just kept on winning.

They won 15 of their final 18 regular season games before capturing the district and regional titles.

“I felt we had a good chance to win districts,” Buchberger said. “Then, with the way the regionals fell, I knew we had a shot at winning regionals also. It set up well for us this year.”

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