Potts’ dramatic three-run homer gives the Muskegon Clippers a 7-5 opening night victory [VIDEO]

By Steve Gunn and Dave Hart
LocalSportsJournal.com

MUSKEGON – There’s no telling how long Jamie Potts will play for the Muskegon Clippers this year, but for at least one big game, he made all the difference.LSJ Logo incert

The All-American outfielder from Grand Valley State University knows there’s a good chance he will be picked by a team in the June 8 Major League Baseball draft.

Jason Ribecky gets the first hit of the season for the Clippers on an RBI-single to right field to put Muskegon up 1-0 in the third inning. Photo/Jason Goorman

Jason Ribecky gets the first hit of the season for the Clippers on an RBI-single to right field to put Muskegon up 1-0 in the third inning. Photo/Jason Goorman

If that occurs, there’s a decent chance he will sign with that team and turn pro this summer.

But he was in a Clippers uniform for the team’s first game of the season on Friday, and hit a dramatic three-run homer in the eighth inning to lead Muskegon to a come-from-behind 7-5 win over the Motor City Pride at Marsh Field.

The Clippers will complete the three-game series with Motor City with a home doubleheader on Saturday, with the first game starting at 4:30 p.m.

“That was fun, the most fun I’ve had in a baseball game in awhile,” said Potts, a 2011 graduate of Oakridge High School, who was the Clippers most valuable player last season.

Potts said he’s scheduled to have a tryout with other college players for the Detroit Tigers next Friday at Comerica Park, and expects to be drafted by some team in the lower rounds.

The two-sport star also has a year of football eligibility left at GVSU and said he would like to play one more year for the Lakers, regardless of whether or not he plays minor league baseball this summer.

Aaron Jensen throws a pitch during the fourth inning for Muskegon. Photo/Jason Goorman

Aaron Jensen throws a pitch during the fourth inning for Muskegon. Photo/Jason Goorman

But if there is no minor league baseball, he said the GVSU football coaches would like him to be in Allendale most of the summer, preparing for the season.

That means his stint with the Clippers is probably going to be short this season, one way or the other.

“It’s probably not looking good right now, but I’m glad I could be around for at least the first weekend and help the guys get a win tonight,” Potts said.

Clippers Manager Walt Gawkowski was thrilled to get the big hit from Potts, regardless of what the future might bring.

“He’s a local kid and a lot of people come here to watch him play and he is such a good athlete,” Gawkowski said. “I know he may not be here long but will take him any night we can have Jamie Potts on our side.”

Potts’ homer capped an exciting comeback for the Clippers, who grabbed a 1-0 lead in the third inning Friday, gave up five runs in a disastrous fifth inning, then got three runs back in the sixth.

Starting pitcher Aaron Jensen pitched 4 1/3 innings, struck out seven and held the Pride scoreless for the first four innings.

Head coach Walt Gawkowski (right) and assistant coach Brian Wright talk during the Clippers rough fifth inning. Photo/Jason Goorman

Head coach Walt Gawkowski (right) and assistant coach Brian Wright talk during the Clippers rough fifth inning. Photo/Jason Goorman

Relief pitcher Jordan Drake got the win, shutting out the Pride for 3 2/3 hitless innings. Matt Williams, the starting center fielder, pitched the ninth for the Clippers and got the save.

Jason Ribecky had two hits on the night for the Clippers.

The Clippers had three errors in the game, and their pitchers issued seven walks.

The sloppy play was probably not terribly surprising, since the Clippers, comprised of players from several different college teams, had just one workout before the first game.

“We made some defensive mistakes and Aaron Jensen was not as sharp as he normally will be,” Gawkowski said. “Some of these guys have to kick off the rust because their college seasons ended weeks ago. They haven’t seen a lot of live pitching.

“Jordan Drake was outstanding in middle relief. Holding them at five runs was very critical, and we did just enough offensively.

“I was pleased that we came back to win it. It was a great night.”

The Clippers opened the scoring in the third inning on an RBI single by Ribecky.

The Pride responded with five runs in the fifth inning on two hits, largely due to an error and four walks issued by Clipper pitchers.

Muskegon cut its deficit to one in the sixth inning, scoring three runs on two hits. Ribecky scored on a Motor City error while Kyle Wise hit a two-run double to cut the Pride lead to 5-4.

Potts hit the decisive blast in the bottom of the eighth inning with a three-run home run over the right field fence to give Muskegon its final 7-5 lead.

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