MUSKEGON – North Muskegon’s Brady Babcock certainty didn’t come to the ballpark expecting to be the hero on Friday night.

The senior was not in the starting lineup, and it didn’t look like his North Muskegon baseball team was going to need a hero, anyway.

The Norse trailed Ludington by three runs headed into the bottom of the seventh inning and seemed headed for a loss. But then they scored three quick runs and tied the game and loaded the bases for Babcock, who had entered the contest in the middle innings.

Babccck took one pitch for a called strike, then lined a single into right field on the second pitch to knock in the winning run in North Muskegon’s exciting 6-5 come-from-behind win at Muskegon’s Marsh Field.

The Norse greet teammate Ben Meyers (8) as he crosses the plate following his seventh-inning homer. Photo/Steve Gunn

“Yeah, a little bit,” said Babcock, a part-time outfielder, when asked if he was nervous when he stepped to the plate. “I was just trying to put the ball in play because I knew if I did we would have a good chance to score.”

When asked about the last time he was mobbed by his teammates after knocking in a winning run, Babcock said “I never have.”

The comeback victory provided another impressive moment for North Muskegon, which is having a great season with a 15-4-1 overall record and a 10-0 mark in the West Michigan Conference.

The Norse will visit Montague in a doubleheader showdown for first place in the conference on Monday.

North Muskegon’s Denny Belmonte (2) gets ready to take a throw as a Ludington runner scrambles back to third base. Photo/Steve Gunn

The Norse pitching was not the greatest on Friday. Their four pitchers combined to allow 11 walks, giving Ludington the base runners it needed to take the lead in the second inning and hold it all the way to the bottom of the seventh.

But in the end the Norse finally heated up enough at the plate to steal the win in their final at bat.

“Our bats have been there for us all year,” said North Muskegon Coach Garrett Moyer. “Tonight we probably had the least amount of hits through six innings that we’ve had all year. Credit to their pitcher, who had us off balance a little bit. But then we got a little momentum going in the fifth and sixth.”

Ludington scored a run in the second inning when Jacob Johnston singled and eventually scored on an RBI single by Gage Jones. The Orioles added another run in the fourth on an RBI single by Steven Weinert, then took a 3-0 lead when a run scored on a pass ball.

The Orioles added their final two runs in the fifth when a runner scored on a bases-loaded walk, then another runner scored on a pass ball.

Norse catcher Ben Meyers holds the ball and dares any runners to try to advance. Photo/Steve Gunn

Ludington starting pitcher Nathan Dillehey was sharp for most of the game, scattering nine hits and walking only one in six innings.

But North Muskegon started to get comfortable at the plate in the fifth inning when James Young walked and Denny Belmonte doubled, putting runners at second and third with one out. Troy McManus knocked Young home with a sacrifice fly, making the score 5-2.

The Norse almost scored another run in the fifth, but had a runner tagged out at home when trying to score on a Sam Gallo single.

North Muskegon saved the biggest fireworks for the seventh and final inning.

Catcher Ben Meyers led off with a home run to left field, making the score 5-3.

North Muskegon’s Troy McManus is congratulated after a base hit. Photo/Steve Gunn

Belmonte hit a fly to right field that was dropped by the outfielder, allowing him to reach second. McManus knocked Belmonte home with an RBI single, and suddenly the score was 5-4.

Gallo walked, Ryan DeLora was given an intentional pass, and Colbert hit an RBI sacrifice fly to right field and the score was tied 5-5.

Brenden Moat followed with an intentional walk, which brought Babcock to the plate with one out and the bases loaded.

He didn’t disapppint, knocking the winning run home with his single to right field that started the celebration.

“Brady is one of our seniors, and he shows up and works his butt off every single day,” Coach Moyer said. “We always have a next man up mentality, and he really came through today. He got his moment and got his chance, and really took advantage of it.”

Ludington pitcher Nathan Dillehey, who tossed a strong game through six innings. Photo/Steve Gunn