By Steve Gunn

GREENVILLE – The Muskegon Catholic baseball team’s path back to the state finals keeps getting blocked by Portland St. Patrick.

Last year the Crusaders advanced to the state quarterfinals, while attempting to defend their 2015 state championship, but lost to St. Patrick 3-2.

That scenario repeated itself on Tuesday.

Two tough innings for the Crusaders, which were punctuated by a pair of errors and several St. Patrick infield hits, were enough to doom MCC in a 6-0 loss to the Shamrocks in the Division 4 quarterfinals at Greenville High School.

Muskegon Catholic finished the season with a 33-11 record, a Lakes 8 Conference championship, and district and regional titles. The Crusaders really won 37 games, but were forced to forfeit four of them when they learned they had inadvertently used an ineligible player early in the season.

“We’ve had a great run with a great bunch of kids,” said MCC Coach Steve Schuitema, who added that his team will be hit hard by graduation, and will be starting many underclassmen next season.

“We won at least 30 games each of the last three seasons. I don’t think that’s ever been done (at MCC). And four years ago we were 29-2. We’ve been on a really good roll.”

The game was a scoreless showdown, except for the second and seventh innings.

The Shamrocks loaded the bases in the second, after a batter was hit by a pitch, and another was safe at first on a throwing error. St. Patrick’s Devin Fedewa delivered a two-run single to give his team an early edge.

St. Patrick’s Seth Hoppes reached on a throwing error later in the inning, allowing another run to score and giving the Shamrocks a 3-0 edge.

Muskegon Catholic had trouble at the plate throughout the game, only managing one hit, which didn’t come until the fourth inning on a single by Hai Nguyen.

The Crusaders struggled against the strong pitching of Fedewa, St. Patrick’s freshman starter, and an equally tough relief performance by Brandon Scheuer.

But MCC had its chances.

They Crusaders had two on in the bottom of the second, following a pair of walks, but failed to capitalize. They had the bases loaded in the fourth and fifth innings and did not score.

The Shamrocks finally put the game away in the top of the seventh. They loaded the bases with a walk, an infield single, and a hit batter, then Scheuer delivered a two-run single to make the score 5-0.

The Shamrocks added one more run in the inning on an RBI groundout.

Muskegon Catholic got a strong performance from starting pitcher An Pham, who threw six complete innings and started the seventh, but was replaced with nobody out.

“I thought An did great,” Schuitema said. “He pitched his guts out.

“(St. Patrick) got ahead early, which took us a little bit out of our small-ball game. We had to look for some bigger innings, and we just didn’t hit the ball.”