MUSKEGON – Friday’s Muskegon Clippers game was a good representation of the team’s season so far.
The Clippers played pretty well, and were in it until the end, but came up just a little short.
The tight contest was tied 2-2 through eight innings, but the first-place Sandusky Ice Haulers put up three runs in the top of the ninth, the Clippers couldn’t answer and fell 5-2 in front of a big holiday weekend crowd at Marsh Field.
Clippers manager Logan Fleener put the finger on a lack of offensive punch, which has haunted the club over the past week, when they’ve lost five of six games.
The home team got good pitching for eight of nine innings, solid defense (include two opponents picked off base and a runner gunned down at home), but the bats weren’t there.
“Not enough production – it’s been the story the last 10 days or so,” said Fleener, whose team will host Sandusky again on Saturday and Sunday. “They had a decent starter on the mound, and we never got him off, never got a chance to see what they had in the bullpen.
“At this point it’s up to the nine guys in the lineup to step up that day and try to get us out of this rough. We’ll roll it out again tomorrow and try to get it done.”
The lack of consistency has been an issue all season for the Clippers. The look really good at times, like last week, when they took three of four games at home from the very good Lima Locos, then went on the road and lost three straight to Jet Box.
Muskegon is now 10-13 on the season while Sandusky improved to 13-9. The Clippers are still only a few games out of first place, but the time to make a move in the standings is quickly approaching, Fleener said.
“It’s the story of our season – just average,” Fleener said. “You can say we have a lot of games left, but if we don’t bounce back and get some wins soon, it’s going to be an uphill battle the rest of the way.”
The Ice Haulers scored the first run in the top of the fourth inning, then Muskegon’s Logan Todd answered in the bottom of the inning with an RBI double, tying the score 1-1.
Spencer Nelson cleared the right field fence with a solo homer in the fifth, giving the Clippers a 2-1 lead.
Sandusky scored on a Muskegon error in the sixth inning, knotting the score at 2-2.
The Ice Haulers took control with three runs in the top of the ninth, roughing up Muskegon relievers Conner Vallie and Lukas Brewer.
Muskegon starting pitcher Paxton Miller tossed five innings, scattering seven hits and only giving up one earned run. Isaac Toole pitched three innings, giving up three hits and one run. Vallie took the loss, giving up three runs in one-third of an inning in the ninth.
Colin Cornwell had three hits for Muskegon while AJ Miranda had two.
Sandusky pitcher Gage Gillott pitched a complete-game victory.