By Jason Goorman
Local Sports Journal
MUSKEGON — Jason Ribecky’s two-run double in the bottom of the eighth inning was what the Muskegon Clippers needed to top the Lake Erie Monarchs 6-5 on Friday night in front of 300 fans at Marsh Field.
The big hit that flew over the center fielder came for Ribecky on a two-out rally to drive in Jamie Potts and Aaron Overbeck. The Muskegon Catholic Central grad finished with two doubles and a run scored on the night.
“Jason’s been swinging it really good the last couple of games and he got a good pitch, a pitch he could handle and drove that ball hard,” said Muskegon coach Walt Gawkowski. “That’s a huge hit, a nice night for Jason.”
Potts started the eighth inning rally with an infield single that looped just over the pitcher and out of reach for the Monarch second baseman. Potts batted a perfect 4-for-4 and had an RBI on the night starting with a triple in the first and three more singles.
“He (Potts) had a great night with the bat,” said Gawkowski. “The ball that he hit not nearly as well as other at bats was maybe the most important swing of the night for him. He’s a gammer and a great athlete and I’m glad he’s on our side.”
Muskegon pitcher Ryan Butzer closed the game out for the win, fanning the first two Monarch batters in the top of the ninth while getting the final out on a grounder to shortstop Connor Seymour.
“Ryan Butzer has closed for us all year. He’s been money,” said Gawkowski. “That’s his role, that ninth inning role and he’s delivered every time. Really pleased with his effort.”
The Clippers battled all night to fight off six lead changes before they were able to secure the game. Cody Houtz’ RBI single in the first gave Muskegon a 1-0 lead. Potts and Matt Williams drove in back-to-back runs in the third, putting the Clippers up 3-1.
A sixth-inning Williams run put Muskegon up 4-3. Potts led off the inning with a single and broke up a would-be double play which allowed Williams to reach first and then advance to second after an errant Monarch throw.
Kyle Lawson pitched six solid innings for Muskegon, giving up six hits and three earned runs with a pair of strikeouts. Cody Bayle relieved Lawson in the seventh but gave up a pair of runs in the inning which let the Monarchs back in the contest with a 5-4 lead.
Muskegon left fielder John Jackoviak stopped the Monarch’s seventh inning when he fired a perfect throw to Houtz at home plate. Jackvoiak’s play gunned down Ryan Lambrecht who was trying to score on a Griffen Harms bases loaded double.
Zac Courtade pitched Muskegon out of a jam in the eighth when he took over after Bayle couldn’t secure the third out of the inning. With runners on second and third, Cortade got the Monarch’s Ted Lilly to fly out to end the inning.
The Clippers host a double header Saturday at the historic March field, starting at 1 p.m.