By Dave Hart

MUSKEGON – It’s certainly too early to hit the panic button, but the Muskegon Clippers will need to improve in many areas if they want a chance to play baseball beyond the regular season.

The Clippers opened their two-game series against the Cincinnati Steam on Tuesday night with an 8-5 loss at Marsh Field.

Muskegon, which has now lost the last three games, is 5-7 on the season, good for fifth place in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate Baseball League’s Northern Division.

The Clippers will look to bounce back on Wednesday against Cincinnati and get a series split before heading back on the road for two games.

“A lot of things killed us tonight,” said Clippers Manager Walt Gawkowski. “Right now we are really not performing in any phase of the game. We had to chase them the whole game. It is very frustrating.”

The Steam opened the scoring in the first inning on an RBI groundout from Grant Richardson.

The Clippers tied the game 1-1 in the second inning on an RBI single by Rob Zuwarski, then took a 2-1 lead in the third frame on a Cincinnati error.

The Steam stormed back with three runs in the fourth inning on a two-run hit by Tyler Wardwell and a RBI groundout from Griffin Merritt.

Cincinnati increased its lead in the eighth inning to 7-2 on solo homers by Richardson and Braydon Runion and an RBI double from Merritt.

The Clippers woke up offensively in the bottom half of the eighth inning, scoring three runs to cut their deficit to 7-5. Muskegon scored on a wild pitch, a Zuwarski single and a sacrifice fly by Brian Martin.

The Steam closed out the scoring with a solo home run from Jake Silverstein in the ninth inning.

Bryce Davis suffered the loss from the mound, allowing four runs on two hits in 3 2/3 innings.