By Dave Hart
MUSKEGON – No, the Muskegon Clippers and Grand River Loggers did not play a football game on Friday night.
The Clippers jumped out to a huge lead, then withstood a massive Grand River comeback to pull out a 17-16 victory and split the two-game series.
Muskegon is now 12-14 on the season, good for third place in the Great Lakes Collegiate Summer Baseball League’s Northern Division.
The Clippers jumped out to a commanding 9-0 lead, and led by 12 runs in the fourth inning.
But Grand River roared back to score the final 11 runs in the contest and pull within a run. The comeback fell short when the potential tying run was gunned down on a steal attempt at second base for the final out of the game.
“It’s a game of 27 outs and you have to get all 27,” said Clippers Manager Walt Gawkowski. “We could not stop them and I don’t know what else to say. The one good thing is we managed to get the win.”
The Clippers scored nine runs in the first inning on an RBI single from Cameron Bair, RBI doubles by Jimmy Roche and Wyatt Featherston, a three-run home run from Jacob Buchberger, an RBI double by Bryce Kelley and a two-run double from Ryan Blake-Jones.
The Loggers responded with two runs in the second and one in the third to cut their deficit to 9-3.
Muskegon increased its lead to 11-3 after a two-run homer from Kelley in the bottom of the third inning.
Grand River countered with two runs in the fourth inning to make the score 11-5.
The Clippers added six runs in the fourth to increase their advantage to 17-5 – then the Loggers made it a game.
They scored three runs in the fifth inning and four in the seventh to pull within 17-12 after seven innings.
The rain started to come down in the eighth inning, making it difficult for the Clippers to get the final six outs.
Grand River put up a four-spot in the eighth inning to cut its deficit to 17-16 heading into the final frame.
Clippers’ pitcher Zachary Taglieri finally managed to get the final four outs in the contest to preserve the victory and pick up a save.