By Dave Hart

MUSKEGON- The Muskegon Clippers have been struggling to keep key players healthy all season, but they still have a lot of fight in them.

But determination doesn’t always result in victories.

The Clippers rallied from a three-run deficit in the ninth inning on Saturday, but fell just short in a 4-3 loss to the St. Clair Green Giants at Marsh Field.

The Clippers are now 12-15 on the season, good for third place in the Great Lakes Collegiate Summer Baseball League’s Northern Division. They are currently three games behind the Green Giants for the final playoff spot with 15 games to go.

Muskegon will close out its home stand on Sunday night with a rematch against St. Clair.

“We fought hard today,” said Clippers Manager Walt Gawkowski. “We had chances and just never quite got that needed base hit.

“I have no complaints at all. I was proud of how the kids fought back in the ninth.”

Muskegon’s Ethan Hajdukovic drew first blood in the first inning with an RBI single to give the Clippers a 1-0 lead.

Muskegon threatened to add to its lead in the second, but left the bases loaded after back-to-back strikeouts by Green Giants starting pitcher Hunter Brown.

St. Clair tied the game 1-1 on an RBI single from Nicholas Howie in the seventh, then took a 2-1 advantage after scoring on a wild pitch.

The Green Giants built a three-run lead in the eighth inning with a two-run home run from Max Ayarza.

The Clippers managed to cut their deficit to one run in the ninth inning and get the game-tying run in scoring position, but failed to complete the comeback.

Tyler Trovinger opened the final frame with a double for the Clippers, then scored on an RBI groundout by Jimmy Roche.

Cameron Bair stepped up to the plate with two outs and a runner on second base. He hit a ball that was dropped by the St. Clair right fielder, allowing Nolan Bryant to score.

But that was as close as the Clippers got. Hajdukovic ended the game with a ground out to the first baseman.

Muskegon’s starting pitcher Austin Batka suffered the tough loss, allowing four runs on four hits while striking out 11 batters in 7 1/3 innings.

Trovinger paced the Clipper offense with two hits, including a double.