By Dave Hart

MUSKEGON- The Muskegon Clippers are all of a sudden a strong contender for a playoff spot in the Great Lakes Collegiate Summer Baseball League, heading into the final week of the season.

The Clippers faced Grand Lake in a doubleheader on Sunday and managed to win both games at Marsh Field, defeating the Mariners 7-1 in the nightcap after winning the opener by a 7-2 margin.

The two Muskegon victories, along with two losses for the Saginaw Sugar Beets, left the Muskegon squad just one game out of the final playoff spot with six games remaining.

Muskegon, which will end its long home stand with a two-game series against first-place Lima starting Tuesday, is now 19-17 on the season, good for fourth place in the Northern Division.

The top three teams in the division make the playoffs.

“People are going to scoreboard watch, but we have six games to go and we’ve got to keep playing well,” said Clippers manager Walt Gawkowski. “Today was a good effort, and if we keep on winning things will work themselves out.”

The Clippers in Game 2 were led by their starting pitcher Jacob Gilhaus, who was nearly unstoppable. He allowed just two hits in six innings while striking out three batters.

“I knew coming in that this team was good,” said Gilhaus. “My job was to keep them off balance. We are really optimistic about making the playoffs, and a day off tomorrow will help us get rested up.”

The Clippers opened the scoring in the first inning with a two-run home run by Jimmy Roche.

Muskegon increased its advantage to 3-0 in the fourth with an RBI single by Nolan Bryant.

The Clippers added to their lead with four runs in the sixth, on a two-run homer by Tyler Carpenter, an RBI double from Nathan Stephens and a Connor Henderson RBI single.

The Mariners closed out the scoring and ended the shutout effort with a run in the seventh frame.

Roche and Carpenter paced Muskegon with two hits, two RBIs while Stephens added two hits and one RBI.

In Game 1, Mike Monahan led the Clippers with two hits and three RBIs, Roche knocked in two runs and Jack Butler chipped in with two hits and an RBI.

Jarrod Melle pitched the victory in the opener, allowing two runs on five hits in five innings.