By Dave Hart
The Clippers’ opening game of the NABF regional tournament at Marsh Field, which was originally scheduled for 5 p.m. Thursday, was moved back to 7 p.m. due to field issues caused by an earlier rain storm.
But when the Clippers finally hit the field, they took control quickly, scoring eight second-inning runs en route to an 11-1 victory over the Illinois U20 Mules.
The contest, which was originally scheduled to be seven innings, ended after five do to the 10-run mercy rule.
Muskegon now moves to the winners bracket of the tournament and will play at approximately 7:30 p.m. Friday against the winner of the Holland Millers-Michigan Braves game, which will be played Friday at 2 p.m.
The Mules will play the loser of the Millers-Braves game at 5 p.m.
“At the plate we had very good discipline, said Clippers Manager Walt Gawkowski. “We drew some critical walks, which was huge. The early lead allowed us to save a pitcher.”
Muskegon applied the knockout punch in the second inning.
Tyler Trovinger opened the scoring with a bases loaded walk to give the Clippers a 1-0 lead.
The Clippers tackled on two runs on a Nick Holt ground ball that was booted by an Illinois fielder, then added a run on a bases-loaded walk by Logan Fleener, three more on a Ryan Mergener double, and one on a Will Harris single.
The Mules scored their lone run in the fourth inning.
Muskegon closed the scoring, and ended the game on the 10-run rule, by scoring three runs in the fifth inning on a two-run single by Connor Glick and an RBI single from Cameron Bair.
Clippers’ starting pitcher Mitch Ashcraft picked up the win, tossing three scoreless innings and allowing one hit while striking out three batters.
Relief pitcher Jackson Shaver allowed one run on one hit in the fourth inning while Andrew Null tossed a scoreless fifth.
Mergener paced the Clippers offensively with a double and three RBIs while Glick and Harris each added two singles.