By Dave Hart
MUSKEGON – After starting the 2016 season hot offensively, the Muskegon Clippers’ bats sputtered on Thursday night.
The Clippers scored a combined 28 runs in their first two games, but were held to three hits in a 7-1 loss to the Irish Hills Leprechauns at Marsh Field.
Muskegon is now 2-1 on the season and will finish its four-game opening week at home on Friday night against the Shoreline Salmon.
Thursday’s game was played against a familiar foe playing in another league.
The Leprechauns, who play their home games at Siena Heights University, are the former Michigan Monarchs, who competed against the Clippers last year in the Michigan Summer Collegiate Baseball League.
This year the team has a new name and competes in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate Baseball League, which has nine teams in Ohio, two in Michigan and one in Indiana.
Irish Hills appears more than ready to compete in that league, based on its performance against the Clippers. The Leprechauns used eight different pitchers in the game without a letdown.
“We didn’t have as many great swings as I would have liked,” said Clippers Manager Walt Gawkowski. “But nevertheless we hung with a talented team that threw eight quality arms at us.
The Clippers were paced by Connor Glick with two hits, including a double, while Andrew Null had an RBI single.
Ryan Butzer, a pitcher from Davenport University, tossed eight innings for Muskegon, allowing five runs on eight hits while striking out five batters.
The Clippers opened the scoring in the first inning on Null’s single that scored Connor Seymour to give the Clippers a 1-0 lead.
Irish Hills responded with three runs in the fourth inning to take a 3-1 advantage. Justin Kelly hit a two-run double then scored on an error.
Irish Hills added a run on an RBI single by Carsten Dembeck in the sixth inning to take a 4-1 lead.
The Leprechauns increased their lead to 5-1 in the eighth with a solo homer by Kelly.
Irish Hills closed out the scoring with two runs in the ninth on an RBI single from Freddy Jehle and a sacrifice fly by Greg Ludwig.