By Ron Rop

MUSKEGON — There are always a few nerves running through baseball players on opening night of any season.

And, yes, Muskegon Clippers coach Logan Fleener saw some in his players on Tuesday night at historic Marsh Field.

He was glad his team got on the field for live game action over the weekend against the Manistee Saints in an exhibition game. And having his team score seven runs in the first three innings of Tuesday night’s game certainly put him and his team at ease, even just a little bit.

By the end, the Clippers had an 8-4 victory over Jet Box in a home opener that attracted a packed house at Marsh Field. The team will take the field again Wednesday night in the second of the three-game series. Game time is 7:05 p.m.

Photo/Leo Valdez

“There’s a little bit of nerves all the time when you start a new season,” Fleener said. “Getting that first run in the first after they had scored settled everyone down a little bit.

“Those seven runs help you take a deep breath, for sure,” the second-year Clippers’ coach said. “I’d love to see the middle three innings with not so many zeroes, but it’s hard and it’s early. These guys are trying to get their timing down.”

Most of the team hadn’t seen real game action in 1-4 weeks.

On Tuesday, Danny Gutierrez, the Clippers starting pitcher, went six strong innings before giving way to Jack Decker, who earned the save with three effective innings of work. Gutierrez finished with eight strikeouts.

“He (Danny) didn’t have his best stuff and he would tell you that.,” Fleener said. “We needed him to go to six just to set up the week when you’ve got six games going. We wanted to be careful and we thought he did a good job with his pitch count.”

Photo/Leo Valdez

Gutierrez last pitched in a game two weeks ago when the season ended for Adrian College.

“We got to enjoy a little bit of down time then coming out here it felt natural,” Gutierrez said. “We have a good team around us and I knew we would get some runs early that only makes it easier me.”

After Jet Box plated a run in the top of the first inning on a double and a single, the Clippers went to work and scored the game’s next seven runs.

Leadoff man Stoney Smith doubled to the left centerfield gap on the first pitch he saw. Two outs later, Colin Cornwall delivered a single to center that took a high hop off the mound and landed in centerfield.

In the second inning, Danny Passinault led off with an opposite field single. One out later, Brandon Schuerer hit a sharp single to right. Luke Kerrins then walked to load the bases. After a strikeout, Aaron Piasecki delivered a two-out, two-run single to centerfield and the Clippers led, 3-1.

Photo/Leo Valdez

The pivotal inning proved to be the third inning when the Clippers pushed in four more runs.Hits in the inning included a single to right by Passinault, a squibber by Sam Lisiak that spun in the grass between the mound and first base and singles by Schuerer and Kerrins. That built the lead to 7-1.

Jet Box pulled to within 7-3 in the top of the fifth. It went to 7-4 in the top of the seventh when Michael Tchavdarov belted a home run that landed just inside the right field foul pole. For the game, Tchavdarov had three hits.

The Clippers countered with a home run of their own in the bottom of the seventh when Lisiak blasted a homer over the fence in left center.

Schuerer had three hits while Kerrins, Lisiak and Passinault had two each. The bottom four hitters in the Clippers lineup accounted for nine of the team’s 13 hits.

Photo/Leo Valdez

Photo/Leo Valdez