MUSKEGON – After scoring more than 10 runs in two of their last three games, it took the Muskegon Clippers a bit longer to get going Saturday night as they swept the Lima Locos, 2-1 and 11-2.

The Game 1 victory clinched the North Division title for the Clippers, who now have homefield advantage in the upcoming playoffs.

A slow start to the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader saw Muskegon find ways to put the ball in play. The trouble came when they needed to string those hits together to score runs and was part of the reason they found themselves trailing the Locos early.

Luckily, Lima’s limited success only saw them muster a single run through the game’s entirety. That opened the door for Muskegon to make something happen.

Down 1-0 in the fourth, Donovan Rinehart and Jabin Bates hit back-to-back doubles to knot the game up. Then, in the bottom of the fifth, Colin Cornwell recorded a double of his own to bring home Griffin Clark in what would prove to be the deciding run.

Photo/Mike Banka

Jack Snow started the night on the mound in what proved to be a strong outing for the Clippers’ arms. Snow pitched four innings allowing just one run on four hits while striking out five. It was Danniel Gutierrez who earned the win, however, striking out two batters in just one inning of work. Mona Shores graduate Jaxon Huffman was awarded the save.

Muskegon returned to their familiar form in the last action of the night, pummeling Lima with a large number of runs scored in the fourth and fifth innings.

After falling behind by a run in the first half inning, the Clippers answered with two runs of their own thanks to a double from Rinehart that scored Stoney Smith and Brett Stanley. Their lead increased in the third when Stanley hammered one over the fences to lead-off that frame.

Lima found a way to bring themselves a step closer in the top of the fourth as they scored one, but the Clippers’ bats sounded off immediately. 

After Sam Lisiak, Nicolas Hawkins and Danny Passinault were awarded free bases on fielding errors and a walk, Smith stepped up to bat. A base-clearing triple from Smith extended Muskegon’s advantage before Rinehart and Brandon Scheurer brought in two additional runs to make five total in that stanza.

The Clippers put the nail in the coffin in the bottom of the fifth, scoring three more runs on hits by Stanley, Cornwell, Rinehart and Clark. Scheurer recorded a double of his own in that same inning, but it didn’t move the scoreboard at all – not that it mattered as Muskegon was firmly ahead to close out the game.

Once again, superior pitching helped the Clippers shutdown Lima as starting pitcher Isiah Lindsey earned the complete game win. Lindsey allowed just two runs on seven hits while sitting down five on strikeouts. 

Rinehart proved to be Muskegon’s most effective batter on the evening, putting up five hits and three RBI total. Smith and Clark were the next best in bringing home runs, as Smith brought in three RBI and Clark had two of his own.

With the pair of wins, Muskegon moved to 31-5 and have a chance at completing their five-game stretch at home undefeated. The Clippers will finish their regular season with another doubleheader against the Locos, 4:05 p.m. Sunday at Marsh Field.