By Noah Genson

MUSKEGON – When it comes to tournament play, experience definitely helps.

But the Muskegon Catholic Central baseball team doesn’t have much of that this season, so the Crusaders had to depend on their youngsters.

And they came through in a big way in the Division 4 district championship game against Western Michigan Christian on Saturday.

Sophomores Carson St. Amour, Josh Holden and Carson Bliecher each drove in three runs and combined to reach base nine times. On the mound, sophomore Cory Heath and freshman Navarre Klint combined to allow just three earned runs and three hits in five innings.

Their strong efforts helped MCC post an impressive 14-4 victory over the Warriors and claim the district championship on their home field.

Muskegon Catholic Coach Steve Schuitema hands his team the Division 4 district title trophy. Photo/Jason Goorman

Muskegon Catholic defeated Holton 7-1 in the semifinals earlier in the day. Western Michigan Christian reached the title game by beating Holland Calvary 13-1.

“It’s great to have those young guys get our offense going early in games,” said MCC Coach Steve Schuitema, whose team has five sophomores and two freshmen in the starting lineup. “And to be able to see our sophomores and freshmen come into this game with no real nerves, it bodes well for the future.”

Western Michigan Christian started the game off hot, jumping out to a 2-0 lead on a failed pickoff attempt that plated Tyler VanBeek, and an RBI hit from Cam Biesel that scored Brant Zeerip.

But the Crusaders fired right back in their half of the first inning.

Riley St. Amour started things off by racing across the plate after a wild pitch to put the Crusaders on the board. Holden then drove in two runs with a double, and Zachary Fooks and Bliecher each knocked in a run, putting MCC up 5-2 after one.

“Coming off Game 1 today, when we didn’t get our bats going until the seventh inning, and to see the way we hit in this game, it was the best we hit all year,” Schuitema said.

MCC never let up after that, outscoring WMC 9-2 the rest of the way.

St. Amour ended the mercy-shortened game in the bottom of the fifth inning, fielding a single in right field and throwing out WMC’s Michael Kamps at the plate for the third out.

Even after the impressive victory, Schuitema said his team must improve on some things going into regional play next week.

“We made some mental mistakes in both games which could have saved our pitchers some pitches,” he said. “We just have to tighten things up going forward.”

Kamps and Biesel each had an RBI in the game for the Warriors.

The Crusaders now advance to play Potterville in regional semifinal action next Saturday on their home field. A victory would put them in the regional finals on the same day.