By Ron Rop
Local Sports Journal

When the Mona Shores Sailors set their goals for the baseball season, winning the Greater Muskegon Athletic Association County Baseball Tournament is always near the top of that list.

You can check that off the ‘to-do’ list after the Sailors captured the Tier 1 title with a 13-3 victory over the Fruitport Trojans in the final game, which was played at Mona Shores. It was the Sailors’ second straight tournament title.

“This is a big tournament for us,” Mona Shores coach Walt Gawkowski said. “This is one of our goals every  year. We point towards this. We’re trying to win out league, of course, we’re trying to win this and we’re trying to get into a regional.

“We try to set up our pitching so that we are at our very best when we come into tournament,” said Gawkowski , whose team is 11-3. “This is our city championship and it means something to our guys.”

The Sailors broke the game open in the bottom of the second inning when they plated seven runs on seven hits. Three Trojan errors also contributed to that pivotal inning. That came against Fruitport’s top pitcher, Travis Grimm, who lasted 1 1/3 innings and allowed six runs and five hits. Grimm had pitched earlier in the day in the Trojans’ 5-4 victory over Muskegon.

“It’s nice to get out in front, especially with Kyle throwing,” Gawkowski said. “He was in good rhythm, he had a good fastball and good command so I felt like if we could put four or five up there somehow, that we would have a good chance and we bust through with seven.”

Key hits in that inning were a three-run double by Gage Veltman, a two-run homer by winning pitcher Kyle Lawson, an infield hit and RBI by freshman Tyler Trovinger and a lined single to center by Jared Karnitz.

“When they string some hits and you kick the ball around a little bit, things tend to snowball,” Fruitport coach Nick Reed said.

Shores increased the advantage to 8-0 in the third inning an RBI single by Adam Ulfsax. That scored Julian Lorea, who had singled to left to start the inning.

Lawson was getting into a good groove on the mound through five innings.

But in the sixth, the Trojans’ bats showed some life and they were able to push across three runs.

With one out, Kolin Lakatos, Andrew Slocum, Mitchell Reyes and Justin Wierengo singled in succession. It was Wierengo’s hard grounder down the first base line that chased Lakatos and Slocum across the plate. Reyes later scored on an error to make it 8-3.

“Our kids rebounded and fought back hard and put a couple in,” said Reed, whose team is 6-3.

But the end came quickly in the bottom of the sixth inning when the Sailors scored six runs to end the game via the mercy rule.

Big hits in that inning included a long double off the right field fence by Boyd, an RBI single by Karnitz and a two-run single by Joe Kostrzewa. The final run scored on a wild pitch.

The Sailors used a 13-hit attack to win the county title for the second straight season and push their record to 11-3.

“We did a lot of little things correctly that I was really happy about,” Gawkowski said. “I’m just happy as heck for our kids and our seniors.”

Lawson pitched six innings and allowed three runs and seven hits. He struck out three.

“Kyle was outstanding,” Gawkowski said. “He tired a little bit at the end, but I thought he threw some good changeups, which I was really, really pleased with.”

Fruitport made it to the title game with the 5-4 victory over Muskegon and a 7-3 victory over Reeths-Puffer.

Mona Shores defeated Orchard View 7-1 and Whitehall 10-0.