By Andrew Johnson
That was the case for the Montague baseball team on Saturday night when Dylan Stever drove in six runs to help the Wildcats upset two-time defending champion Muskegon Catholic 8-2 in the finals of the Greater Muskegon Athletic Association Tier II Baseball Tournament at Marsh Field.
Stever did all of his damage in the first two innings of the title game.
In the first inning, Stever came up with the bases loaded and no outs before hitting a double to left-center field to clear the bases and put Montague up 3-0.
Stever wasn’t done. He came up with the bases loaded in the second inning and drove a ball to deep right field that once again cleared the bases to extend the lead to 6-0.
“We played really well all day, we like to jump on the ball right away,” said Stever. “I didn’t think about doing too much, I just got the bat on the ball and it went.”
Stever scored when the next batter, Max Mickelson, brought him home with an RBI single to extend the Montague lead to 7-0.
Muskegon Catholic, which advanced to the championship game by beating Western Michigan Christian 15-1 and North Muskegon 10-1, attempted to come back.
The Crusaders got on the board in the bottom of the second inning when Norberto Vasquez hit an RBI double to score Hai Nguyen and cut the deficit to 7-1.
MCC scored again in the bottom of the third when John Sanocki brought An Pham home with an RBI single to cut the Montague lead to 7-2.
The Crusaders loaded the bases in the fourth inning with no outs before Montague relief pitcher Jacob Buchberger regained his control. He struck out the next two Crusaders before getting a groundout to escape the inning with no runs allowed.
“It was nerve-wracking a little, but we have a really good defense and I know they’ll make plays if I give them the chance,” Buchberger said.
Montague added an insurance run in the sixth inning to extend its lead to 8-2.
The Wildcats outhit the Crusaders 11-8.
Montague started its third and fourth starting pitchers earlier in the day in wins against Holton (8-1) and Oakridge (10-2) in the semifinals.
The Wildcats started Andrew Bobian in the title game, then pulled him after 40 pitches, in accordance with the pregame plan.
“It’s pretty special, I don’t want to say we didn’t come out to win it in past years, but we value our conference games more than this tournament,” said Montague Coach Kevin Buchberger, referring to his cautious use of pitchers in the GMAA tournament.
Montague is now 14-9 overall on the season while Muskegon Catholic Central fell to 20-4.