By Steve Gunn
Of course nobody knows just how far the Sailors will go this season, but they are definitely good, just like they expected to be.
Mona Shores completed a three-game sweep of rival Reeths-Puffer with a 10-2 victory on their home field on Thursday. They took two games from the Rockets on Tuesday on the road.
The Sailors are now 12-2 on the season and 9-0 in the O-K Black Conference, and believe they can accomplish a lot of things by the time it’s all said and done.
“I think we’ve been building toward this for awhile,” said Mona Shores Coach Brandon Bard, who hopes his team can challenge perennial conference champion Jenison this season. “We have strong senior leadership.
“The biggest thing I like about this group is that they are ridiculously athletic. We have to be averaging eight or nine stolen bases per game. Our team speed is allowing us to do a lot of things on the bases.
“It’s a big, deep group of guys and such great kids.”
Thursday’s game was a perfect example of how the Sailors can bide their time, even when things are not quite clicking, and still get the job done in the end.
They trailed Reeths-Puffer 1-0 in the early going, and struggled to get on the scoreboard for awhile.
In the bottom of the first, Mona Shores had a runner on first and one out, but hit into a double play to end the inning.
In the bottom of the second, Mona Shores’ Tyler Campbell singled with runners on first and second and two out. But the lead runner went too far around third base on the play and ended up getting picked off for the third out.
But the Sailors calmly bided their time, and made their move when they were ready. They took a 2-1 lead in the third inning on a two-run single by Caden Broersma. R-P tied the score in the top of the fourth, but Mona Shores scored six times in the bottom of the inning to take control.
The runs came on an RBI single by Campbell, an RBI single by Aaron Piasecki, an RBI walk by Drew Moss, and a two-run single by Reid McAvoy. Another run came in on a wild pitch.
Mona Shores added two more runs in the bottom of the sixth with a two-run homer over the left field fence by catcher Jackson Neely.
The Sailors banged out 12 hits in the game. Broersma finished with three hits and two RBIs. McAvoy had three hits, including a double, and two RBIs. Campbell had two hits and one RBI.
Benefiting from all the run support was sophomore starting pitcher Brady Rose, who overcame some early shakiness to turn in a great performance. He tossed a complete-game six-hitter with no earned runs, seven strikeouts and one walk.
“He did not have his best stuff,” Bard said. “He couldn’t find his curveball for most of the game. But he’s a mentally tough kid who can handle it. Even without his best stuff he gave up zero earned runs.”
Reeths-Puffer, a younger team with several underclassmen in the lineup, dropped to 3-6 overall and 0-3 in the O-K Black.
Rylee Bonjenoor led the Rockets with two hits, including a double.
Overall, Rockets Coach Butch Attig saw some positives in his team’s performance.
“We have some injuries, but we put some people on the mound who threw strikes, and saw some other people who might be able to help us later in the season,” he said. “We had one bad inning. We walked some people and had an error. You know baseball. That kind of stuff can have a domino effect.
“I think it was good to play (Mona Shores) early in the season so we will know what to expect later. Moving forward, I think we can grow and mature from our mistakes and be ready to battle for a county title, in our league, and especially in districts.”