MUSKEGON – The Muskegon Clippers are learning to trust their bats, and it paid off big on Thursday night.
Earlier in the season, they played a game that reached the 11th inning in a tie, invoking their league’s new “sudden death” rule, and it didn’t go well.
Under the new rule, home team gets to choose whether to play offense or defense in the 11th. The offensive team starts with a runner on first, and if it scores, it wins. If it fails to score, the defensive team wins.
In the game earlier in the season, the Clippers chose to play defense and it backfired when the visitors scored and won.
On Thursday they trusted their bats, went on offense, and pulled out yet another late-inning victory, 6-5, over the Lima Locos in the finale of a four-game series at Marsh Field.
The win came with two outs in the 11th and August Hutchinson on second base and Fermin Osio on first. Logan Hylek came to the plate in the pressure situation and responded, hitting an RBI single to score Hutchinson and end another game on a happy note.
The victory was the third in a row for the Clippers, who took three of four games from the Locos this week, improved their record to 9-7 and moved into a second-place tie with Lima in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate Baseball League’s Northern Division, only a half game out of first place.
“They had the top of their order guys coming up, and nothing against our (pitching) staff, but I wanted our guys to have control,” said Muskegon manager Logan Fleener. “After the first sudden-death game I realized all the pressure is on the defense, and I wanted to put the pressure on them.”
The Clippers opened the scoring by putting three runs on the board in the bottom of the first. Colin Cornwell walked with the bases loaded to score the first run, then A.J. Miranda added a two-run single, scoring Jacob Anderson and Spencer Nelson.
The Clippers added another run in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI groundout to take a 4-0 lead.
The Locos chipped away at their deficit, scoring a run in the fourth, two in the fifth and another in the sixth to tie the score 4-4.
The Clippers regained the lead in the bottom of the seventh when Logan Todd scored on a wild pitch. Lima forced another tie by scoring a run in the top of the ninth.
The tenth inning was scoreless, leading to the decisive 11th inning.
Paxton Miller started on the mound for Muskegon, allowing three runs on five hits with one walk and four strikeouts in five innings.
Lukas Brewer got the win by pitching the ninth and tenth innings for the Clippers. He allowed one run on two hits and struck out two.
The Clippers will now hit the road, beginning a three-game weekend series against Jet Box on Friday night.