By Dave Hart
The Clippers returned from their All-Star break dropping the first four games, including two by lopsided margins.
The trend continued against Lake Erie on Monday night as early long balls put Muskegon in a deep hole that it could not climb out of.
The first place Monarchs blasted three home runs and cruised to a 15-3 victory over the Clippers at Marsh Field.
The Clippers are now 15-22 on the season with only four games remaining and have officially been eliminated from postseason play.
Muskegon will travel to face the Irish Hills Leprechauns on Tuesday and Wednesday night before closing the season on Saturday and Sunday with a pair of home games against the Grand River Loggers.
“It’s been the same two things that has hurt us all year long,” said Clippers Manager Walt Gawkowski. “Number one, getting behind early and second, giving up the big inning.
“It hurts us offensively because the mindset is different for a hitter when you are down early and we have fought that all year long. I just want to end the season on a good note.”
It did not take the Monarchs long to get on the board, jumping out to a 2-0 lead two pitches into the game on a leadoff single and a two run home run by Alex Kerschner.
Lake Erie added two more runs in the opening frame to take a 4-0 advantage.
The Clippers responded with a home run of their own by Nolan Bryant in the first inning to cut their deficit to 4-1.
The Monarchs increased their lead in the second inning with a three-run home run from Ryan Fournier to give Lake Erie a 7-1 lead.
Fournier added another home run in the fourth to give the Monarchs a 9-1 advantage before scoring on a wild pitch to make the score 10-1 after four innings.
Muskegon cut its deficit to 10-3 on an RBI single by Luke LaLumia and a bases loaded walk from Wyatt Featherston in the fifth inning.
Lake Erie closed out the scoring with three runs in the sixth and two in the seventh frame.
The Clippers were paced offensively by Bryant, LaLumia and Jacob Buchberger with two hits apiece.
Brice Kelley suffered the tough loss on the mound for Muskegon, allowing 10 runs on 10 hits in 3 1/3 innings.
Chris Sparks and Buchberger each pitched in relief for the Clippers.