By Dave Hart

MUSKEGON – The Oakridge baseball team is the new champion of the Greater Muskegon Athletic Association Tier 2 City Tournament.The Eagles outmatched defending champion
Muskegon Catholic, which won three of the last four titles, by a 7-3 margin in the finals at Marsh Field to capture this year’s title.

Oakridge, now 12-3 on the season, advanced to the title game by beating Holton in an extra innings contest that was won on an RBI sacrifice fly by Jalen Hughes, then defeated Ravenna in the semifinal round.“I thought our kids, all day long, did a very nice job,” said Oakridge coach Brandon Barry.  “Small ball was huge for us today, and I think we play good defensively. I was little concerned that we came out flat and we weren’t ready for the championship game. but we settled in.”

The Eagles struggled early on, trailing 2-0 after allowing a run in both the first and second innings.

But Oakridge responded by scoring three runs in the bottom of the second to take a 3-2 lead that was never relinquished.

The Eagles added two more runs in the third and another in the fourth to increase their advantage to 6-2 heading into the fifth inning.

Muskegon Catholic cut its deficit to 6-3 in the fifth inning, scoring on a wild pitch, but failed to cross the plate again.

Oakridge relief pitcher Austin Fairchild came into the game in the third inning and shut down the Crusader bats. He allowed just one run on one hit in 4 1/3 innings while striking out five batters.

“He has a good little live arm,” said Barry about his sophomore pitcher. “He can play just about every position on the field.”

Fairchild said the pressure of pitching in the city tournament title game did not rattle him at all.

“I play in travel baseball so I am used to the pressure,” he said. “I just let them put the ball in play and not try to strike anyone out, but pitch to contact.”Oakridge closed out the scoring with a run in the sixth inning.

The Eagles were led offensively by Koleman Wall with two hits, while Luke Layman knocked in two runs, and both Jaxon Fri and Kolbe Stewart scored two runs.

“We came out hitting the ball pretty well and scored a couple runs early, then we stopped hitting,” said Muskegon Catholic coach Steve Schuitema. “When their pitcher throws strikes it’s tough to catch them. But I was pleased to get to the finals because we are pretty young this year.”

The Crusaders, now 12-3 on the season. defeated North Muskegon and Montague to get to the title game.

Muskegon Catholic was led by Riley St. Amour, who had two hits, an RBI and scored a run. Josh Holden added a hit and an RBI.

2018 GMAA city baseball champs, Oakridge. Photo/Tim Reilly