By Dave Hart
MUSKEGON – The Muskegon Catholic baseball team waited all year for this day to come.
It was a chance to avenge not only last years’ heartbreaking loss to Beal City in the regional finals, but two straight years of losing to the Aggies in the state tournament.
The Crusaders accomplished their mission with a 5-2 win over Beal City on Saturday in the Division 4 regional finals on their home field, leaving them three wins away from achieving their ultimate goal, a state championship.
Muskegon Catholic will play Potterville Tuesday in the state quarterfinals at Calvin College at 5 p.m. The winner will advance to Friday’s state semifinals in East Lansing.
“We are fortunate to win today,” said Muskegon Catholic Coach Steve Schuitema, whose team improved to 36-1-1 on the season. “Last year was a really tough loss.”
Senior standout Nick Holt once again played a major role for MCC.
He pitched a complete game gem on the mound, giving up two runs on five hits while striking out nine batters.
Holt also knocked in the Crusaders’ go-ahead run in the fifth inning by beating out a throw from the shortstop on what would have been an inning-ending double play. MCC’s Anthony Woodard scored on the play, putting the Crusaders up for good.
“Nick is a gamer, and with him on the mound you always feel like you have a chance to win,” Schuitema said.
Beal City opened the scoring in the first inning on an RBI single by Ian Hoogerhyde.
Nick Holt and his brother Jacob Holt both scored in the first inning for MCC when a fly ball to left field was dropped by the Aggie outfielder.
The Aggies tied the game at 2-2 in the second inning on a RBI single from Luke Farrell.
Woodard put MCC up 3-2 in the fifth inning on Holt’s hustle play that broke up the double play.
The Crusaders added two insurance runs in the sixth inning, thanks to a pair of Beal City errors on bunts.
Zach Huston walked and Dominic Woodard singled, then Huston scored when the Aggies made a bad throw to third on a John Sanocki bunt. Woodard scored when a bunt by Devin Comes led to a throwing error at first base by the Beal City catcher.
The Aggies, who beat Marion in the semifinal round 13-3, went down in order to close out the game in the bottom of the seventh inning.
The Crusaders defeated Onekama 10-1 in the semis to earn a spot in the title game.
Jacob Holt hit a pair of two-run home runs while Huston had two RBIs for MCC.
Comes picked up the semifinal victory on the mound, giving up one run on three hits in five innings.