By Nate Thompson
And thanks to sophomore Austin Flowers, the streak is alive at five straight.
Flowers took the mound with one out in the third inning of Saturday’s city tournament title game against Reeths-Puffer. The Rockets had scored four times in the inning to pull within two runs of the Sailors.
But Flowers calmly put down the uprising and preserved the lead, allowing Mona Shores to go on to a 9-5 victory over the Rockets at Marsh Field.
Flowers went the rest of the way, allowing just two hits, no runs and striking out three in a brilliant relief effort.
Bard said Flowers’ performance was pivotal, because Mona Shores was playing in its ninth game of the week and fatigue likely played a role in starting pitcher Tyler Trovinger’s shaky outing.
“All week, it was Trov is starting, Trov, Trov, Trov,” Bard said. “But with this being our ninth game and he’s played in every single inning, he was probably battling a little fatigue. It was a ‘bridge the gap’ type of thing, and (Flowers) ended up taking it and going the distance. I couldn’t be happier for him.”
Mona Shores led throughout the game, thanks a huge five-run second inning that was ignited by the bottom of the Sailor lineup.
Caden Anderson and Brendan Freeman started a string of six straight Sailor hits with two outs in the inning, pushing Mona Shores ahead, 7-1. That outburst chased Reeths-Puffer starting pitcher Jacob Petrick from the mound.
“We’ve had so much production from 1, 2, 3, 4, so we needed this,” Bard said. “Our lineup is starting to gel top to bottom.”
Connor Belanger connected on a solo home run to left field in the bottom of the third to push the Sailors’ advantage to 8-5.
Trovinger, who tallied three RBIs in the contest, drilled a deep shot to straightaway center field in the fourth inning to plate Elijah Wilson for the Sailors’ final score.
Collin Vaughn had two hits and an RBI, while Wilson and Hunter Broersma also had RBIs for the Sailors.
Reeths-Puffer’s No. 9 hitter, Josh Pollock, had a pair of RBI singles.
Mona Shores (18-4) mercied Muskegon to open its tournament run 16-1, then held off Whitehall 6-4 in the semifinals. The Vikings put a scare into the Sailors by plating four runs in the bottom of the seventh, but couldn’t get any closer.