By Dave Hart
MUSKEGON – A comeback walk-off win is the sort of thing that can help a struggling team turn things around.
Muskegon trailed 6-3 with just three outs remaining, but then sent eight men to the plate and scored four runs to pull out an exciting 7-6 win over the Xenia Scouts at Marsh Field.
The winning run crossed the plate on an RBI walk by Travis Janes.
The Clippers improved to 8-8 on the season, good for fourth place in the Great Lakes Collegiate Baseball League’s Northern Division. The top three teams in each division qualify for postseason play, and
Muskegon is currently one game out of third place.
“I am really proud of the guys because a lot of teams would have folded and we didn’t,” said Clippers manager Walt Gawkowski. “It does my heart good to watch them celebrate in a walk-off, and it shows you how much fun they are having.
“We needed a win and we have been struggling. We have been close so many times, but haven’t been able to get it done, and maybe this will jump start us.”
The Clippers trailed Xenia 6-3 heading into the bottom of the ninth after allowing two runs in both the eighth and ninth innings to erase their slim 3-2 advantage.
Jimmy Roche, who opened the scoring for the Clippers with a solo home run in the third inning, singled to start the ninth-inning rally.
“I was trying to get something to handle and get a base hit out of it,” said Roche, who is in second season with the Clippers. “I had more power in the first two swings, and during the last two in the game I was just trying to get on base.”
Ryan Blake-Jones followed with a single, then Nolan Brimbury did the same to knock in Roche and make the score 6-4. Blake-Jones later scored from second base on a wild pitch to cut the Clippers’ deficit to a single run.
Blake Dunn was hit by a pitch to put the winning run on base with one out. Two walks followed, including a base-loaded pass to Mike Monahan that forced in the tying run
Janes completed the comeback by drawing the Clippers’ third straight walk that forced in the winning run.
Muskegon was led by Roche with three hits while Blake-Jones and Micah Allen added two apiece.
Clippers starting pitcher Jared Melle pitched six innings, allowing two runs on five hits while striking out six batters. Reliever Jacob Wosinski was credited with the win, recording the final three outs in the top of the ninth.