By Mitchell Boatman
MUSKEGON – After a one-year break, the Mona Shores baseball team has reclaimed the Greater Muskegon Athletic Association Tier 1 City Baseball Tournament title.
“Outstanding game,” said Mona Shores Coach Brandon Bard. “This means a ton. It was nice to bounce back. The kids battled. With the fan atmosphere, everything was just awesome out here today.”
Pitching dominated the game, but the Sailors managed a two-out rally in the eighth inning to steal the win.
Connor Belanger walked and Austin Flowers was hit by a pitch. Then Caden Broersma came up with a chance to break the 1-1 tie.
The sophomore delivered with a go-ahead RBI single to right-center field to score Belanger and give Mona Shores its winning margin.
“My teammates got on base,” Broersma said. “I just got a good pitch and went opposite field with it. We come back after adversity. We just fight through it and win at the end of the day.”
“He continues to progress mentally,” Bard said about Broersma. “The physical abilities are there, it was just getting him to have the confidence that he’s got swinging the bat right now.
“It’s awesome to see a sophomore step up and do something like that. It’s not easy under that kind of pressure to come through like that. I’m so happy for him.”
Orchard View starting pitcher Brett Shawl received a no-decision, but his performance was outstanding. The junior threw seven innings and allowed just one run, struck out eight and walked one.
“I was so proud of the way he continued to compete,” Cardinals coach Derik Morehouse said. “He held his composure the whole time. He threw a lot of strikes, which is what we’re trying to stress for our pitchers.”
Mona Shores starter Connor Vallie matched Shawl with five strong innings of his own. Vallie allowed one run on four hits with seven strikeouts before being removed due to pitch count after the fifth.
“It’s extremely tough, especially when we have three conference games during the week,” Bard said of pitch count restrictions. “We had our whole staff (eligible), but we had some sore arms.”
Mona Shores scored the first run just four batters into the game. After a bloop single and a bunt hit, Broersma hit a sacrifice fly to right field to score Matt Martin.
In the fifth inning, Kris Veen singled home Breeze Ealy for OV’s lone run of the game.
Tyler Campbell got the win in relief for the Sailors by pitching 2 1/3 innings. Belanger came in to record the final two outs and earn the save.
Martin and Tyler Warren each had two hits for the Sailors in the title game.
AJ Anderson smacked three hits for Orchard View while Alex Andrews had two.
Mona Shores, now 14-5 on the season, defeated Reeths-Puffer 16-2 and Fruitport 14-5 to advance to the title game.
Orchard View, now 7-7, beat Muskegon 12-2 in its opening game before knocking out defending champion Whitehall in the semifinal round.