FRUITPORT – One-run losses have been a point of major frustration for the Fruitport baseball team all season.

The Trojans ended up with nine of those, including a final one on Tuesday when they failed to push across a run and lost 1-0 to Coopersville in a Division 2 pre-district play-in game.

Fruitport lost the chance to move on to Saturday’s district tournament and instead ended its season with a 16-16 record.

The Trojans gathered for a long talk in the outfield after the game, then there were hugs and tears when they gathered up their gear and headed home for the final time this spring.

Losing is one thing. Losing by such a tight margin, over and over, is even harder to take.

Fruitport’s Ryan Bosch delivers a pitch. Photo/Angela Rusnak

“We’ve been in games,” said Fruitport head coach Nick Reed. “Sometimes the game of baseball humbles you. One hit here and there can change the whole complexation of a game. We played well enough to win this game. We just couldn’t come through with a hit when we needed it.”

“It sucks,” said Fruitport junior Ryan Bosch, who pitched a great game on Tuesday but took the hard-luck loss. “For all of the dedication and hard work that’s been put into this team, every time we step on the field it seems like it doesn’t turn out the way we want it to. I can’t say much more than I am proud of everybody for pushing through.”

There are five teams in Fruitport’s Division 2 district, and officials purposefully narrow it down to four teams for the semifinals and finals, which are played in one day.

That means two teams are drawn randomly to play a pre-district game, and Fruitport was unlucky enough to draw that assignment against Coopersville.

But Reed said it didn’t make any difference, because you have to win games to win a district title, and the Trojans didn’t do that.

Fruitport’s Braxton Ward tries to make a play at second base as a runner slides in. Photo/Angela Rusnak

“You have to beat people to get to the championship game,” he said. “Whether you play on Tuesday or in the semifinals on Saturday morning, you will have to win. Hats off to Coopersville. They did just enough to win.”

Ironically, two of the most painful one-run losses of the season came against Coopersville.

The first one occurred weeks ago when the Trojans came from way behind and trailed the Broncos 7-6 headed into the seventh and final inning, only to have the umpire end the game due to darkness, handing Coopersville the win.

Darkness was not an issue on Tuesday, but Fruitport’s inability to mount much offense was.

The Trojans managed only two hits, a double by Hudson Hazekamp in the second inning and an infield single by Avery Lambers in the fifth.

Fruitport outfielder Hudson Hazekamp gets ready to haul in a fly ball. Photo/Angela Resnak

Fruitport put the ball in play consistently, and only struck out twice, but Coopersville’s defense handled everything that came its way.

Fruitport’s biggest threat to score came in the top of the sixth when Jax Flynn was hit by a pitch and Bosch walked, putting runners on first and second with one out. The threat ended on a double play, however, and the Trojans never got another runner on base.

Coopersville did not manage much more against Bosch, who only allowed three hits and one walk while striking out eight batters.

The lone run came in the bottom of the first inning when Zach Velzen walked and then scored on an RBI double by Drew Duthler, who also pitched the win for the Broncos.

The tough part is that the Trojans had Velzen picked off first base during Duthler’s at-bat, but the throw to second that would have beat him sailed into left field. A few moments later he crossed the plate on Duthler’s big hit.

Fruitport first baseman Trevor Rusnak takes a throw from the mound. Photo/Angela Rusnak

“Bosch pitched well,” Coach Reed said. “He got his pitch count up early but was in great shape at the end. He threw a good pitch to Duthler (in the first inning) on a full count, down and in, but Duthler put the barrel on it. We picked a guy off and threw it into left field. If we make that play, we might be going into the bottom of the seventh or maybe even the top of the eighth.”

The Trojans will now say goodbye to six seniors – Jason Stone, Christian Kennedy, Brady French, Alex Kelly, Daiton Campbell and Ricky Wiggins.

The good news is that most of their roster – including Bosch and several other outstanding pitchers, will be back next season.

So the future looks bright for Fruitport baseball, but that didn’t help much in the immediate aftermath of Tuesday’s tough loss.

“We’re losing some leadership (from the seniors),” Reed said. “These are all great kids. They showed up and put the work in. It just didn’t end the way we wanted it to.

“We have guys coming back and some guys coming up, and if they progress like we think they should, they will help us win. We’re excited about next year, but right now it still stings.”eddie