By Dave Hart
MUSKEGON – Early in the season, the Muskegon Clippers are showing some signs of resilience.
But Muskegon loaded the bases with nobody out on a walk and two bunt singles, before tying the game on a one-out walk by Jimmy Allen.
The Clippers completed the comeback later in the inning when a sacrifice fly by Tre Morris scored Noah Hecht to clinch an 8-7 victory over the Michigan Monarchs at Marsh Field.
Muskegon, now 2-1 on the season, will head out for a six-game road trip starting on Friday in Ohio against the Lima Locos.
“This team never quits when most teams do,” said Clippers Manager Walt Gawkowski. “We made it a little hard on ourselves, but they hung in there, and the energy on the bench was tremendous. I really like this team.”
The Clippers managed to win the game despite walking 14 batters. But the Monarchs struggled to cash in, leaving nine runners on base throughout the contest.
“They are not trying to miss the strike zone,” said Gawkowski about his pitching staff. “We just need to encourage them to be in attack mode and be aggressive.”
Josh Stella got the victory for the Clippers after tossing the final three innings in relief and allowing two unearned runs and one hit.
Muskegon’s starting pitcher Bryce Davis struggled in his first outing of the season. He only allowed two runs (one earned) and one hit in four innings, but walked eight batters.
The Monarchs opened the scoring in the first inning on a wild pitch.
The Clippers grabbed their first lead of the night in the bottom of the first on a two-run single by Nolan Bryant and a balk by Michigan’s starting pitcher with a runner on third base.
The Monarchs tied the game 2-2 in the fourth inning on a bases-loaded walk.
Muskegon took a 4-2 lead in the bottom half of the fourth when a run scored on an error and Mike Malewitz delivered an RBI single.
The Monarchs took a 5-4 lead after a three-run homer by Peter Ahn in the seventh inning.
The Clippers went back on top 6-5 in the bottom half of the frame with a two-run single by Bryant.
Michigan tied the game 6-6 in the eighth with a sacrifice fly, then gained a 7-6 advantage in the ninth inning on an RBI single by Lewis Beals.
But the Clippers applied the knockout punch in the bottom of the ninth. A walk by Malewitz and back-to-back bunt singles from Hecht and Josh Holt Jr. loaded the bases with nobody out.
Allen then tied the game 7-7 with a one-out, bases-loaded walk, before the Clippers walked off on a sacrifice fly by Morris.