Montague baseball squad earns first two wins, eyeing plenty more this season

By Justin Haggerty

MONTAGUE – After capturing a share of the West Michigan Conference championship in 2015 with a 12-2 league record, expectations are high this spring for the Montague varsity baseball squad.LSJ Logo incert

And so far things are looking up for the Wildcats, at least in league play.

Montague earned its first victory of the season, 6-4, over visiting Shelby (0-4 overall, 0-3 WMC) Tuesday evening in the first game of a doubleheader.

The Wildcats completed the sweep in Game 2, winning 12-1 in six innings.

Montague's Jacob Buschberger slides into third base. Photo/Tim Reilly

Montague’s Jacob Buschberger slides safely into home. Photo/Tim Reilly

Wildcats Coach Kevin Buchberger was not overly excited with the victories. He’s  keeping things in perspective and focusing on the overall effort of his players.

“We just try to get better every time we come out,” Buchberger said. “Our expectation is to come out and play hard and just try to improve.

“Our goal is to be a championship team no matter what it is –  conference, districts, tournaments and things like that. That will work itself out as long as we play hard and play the game the right way.”

Montague’s Brandon Vanderleest scored in the second inning to get the Wildcats on the board.

Shelby tied the game in the top of the third inning on a Jonah Kelley single that drove in Walker Barrs.

Montague responded by scoring three times in the bottom of the third to give the Wildcats a lead they did not relinquish.

Drake Roesler started the inning with a walk, and two batters later, Abram Erickson doubled to right center, scoring Roesler.

Shelby pitcher Kris Josephson balked Erickson to third and walked the next hitter, Dylan Stever.

Stever stole second base and Max Mickelson drove both runners in to put Montague up 4-1 after three innings.

Dylan Stever delivers the pitch for Montague. Photo/Tim Reilly

Dylan Stever delivers the pitch for Montague. Photo/Tim Reilly

Shelby cut the lead to 4-3 in the fifth inning on runs from Barrs and Josephson, but Mickelson scored for Montrague on a passed ball in the bottom of the inning to put the Wildcats on top 5-3.

Montague padded its lead in the bottom of the sixth when Jacob Buchberger drove Justin Schneider in from third with a single.

Shelby loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh with no outs but could only drive in Josephson to cap the scoring.

“We got plenty of chances but we just left too many guys in scoring position,” Shelby coach Brian Wright said. “A couple of defensive miscues in the field always leads to some runs. but we’re right there until the end, we (were) a hit away from tying that thing up.”

Buchberger pitched five innings, giving up three runs (one earned) on five hits with eight strikeouts to pick up the victory.

Josephson took the loss, giving up six runs (five earned) on six hits and three strikeouts in six innings of work.

“We battled the whole game, but we gave up too many runs on the base paths, ran into too many outs,” Buchberger said. “Defensively we made a couple errors that helped them continue innings to score some runs.

“It’s still early in the season, we haven’t had a whole lot of time as a team outside yet, we’re still learning as we go.”

In Game 2, Montague’s Stever got the win on the mound, going all six innings while four hits and one earned run. Johah Kelly took the loss for Shelby.

The Wildcats totaled 12 hits.  Stever was 3-for 3 with two RBIs and scored three runs. Mickelson went 3-for-4 with three RBIs, Jacob Buchberger had 2 hits and scored twice while Andrew Bobian added two hits and an RBI.

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