By Jason Goorman
Local Sports Journal
HOLTON – Muskegon Catholic Central has a great baseball team, but it can’t seem to get past Beal City.
The Crusaders, ranked No. 1 in the state in Division 4, saw their season come to a heartbreaking end Saturday with a 3-1 extra inning loss to Beal City in the regional championship game at Holton High School.
It was the second straight year that the Aggies downed MCC in the regional finals.Beal City, now 34-3, advances to next week’s state quarterfinals.
Muskegon Catholic finished the season with a 29-2 record. The Crusaders beat Mason County Eastern 23-3 in the semifinals.
Beal City broke a 1-1 tie by scoring the winning runs in the top of the 10th inning. Ryan Tillman doubled, Tucker Gross followed with an RBI double, and Luke Farrell capped the uprising with an RBI single.
The Crusaders went down in order in the bottom of the 10th, sealing the win for Beal City.
MCC had plenty of chances to take control of the game.
In the first inning, MCC’s Anthony Woodard hit a double and Nick Holt hit a sacrifice fly to deep center, but Woodard was called out for leaving too early.
In the fourth inning, the Crusaders had the bases loaded with no outs but Zachary Winzer grounded out to the first baseman, who then threw out a runner at home to complete the double play. Nick Holt got picked off third to end the inning.
In the fifth inning, MCC had two runners on with one out but couldn’t find home.
In the sixth inning, with two outs, Winzer reached base on an error and Zack Houston reached on a single. But Winzer was caught in a trick play at second base.
Beal City pitcher Ty Rollin faked a pickoff throw to second base. The Beal City second baseman, shortstop, center fielder and pitcher all acted like the throw went into center field. After all the commotion, Winzer broke for third, only to be tagged out by the pitcher who never threw the ball.
In the eight inning with one out, Nick Holt reached first after being hit by a pitch. Then Jacob Holt crushed a liner that looked like it was going to be a home run, but the left fielder managed to catch the ball. Nick Holt, who obviously thought the it was a sure hit, failed to tag up, and was forced out at first to end the inning.
“We obviously had our opportunities, but that’s a really good team,” said MCC coach Steve Schuitema, whose team finished the season with 29 victories. “I expected it to be a 2-1 game and that’s the type of game it was.”
The game almost didn’t go to extra innings.
Beal City took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Gross scored on a bases loaded walk.
The Crusaders stayed alive by scoring a run in the bottom of the seventh, which was the final regulation inning. Adam Callow scored the run on a sacrifice fly by Griffin Seymour.
Rollin pitched a complete game victory for Beal City, scattering six hits.
Pitcher Nick Holt tossed a gutsy game for MCC, tossing 6 2/3 innings while giving up eight hits, six walks and hitting two batters. He worked himself out of trouble several times and kept the Crusaders in the game.
Zack Huston pitched 3 1/3 innings of relief for MCC.