AJ Kostic Hits 2 HRs in Leprechauns Victory vs Monarchs, 13-8

June 3, 2023by Jacob Cotsonika

Runs were aplenty at The Lucky Corner for Opening Day. The back and forth affair began with an opposite field, solo home run by Central Michigan’s AJ Kostic in the first inning. The dimensions at the field are pretty pitcher-friendly, so a home run to begin the season was a massive surprise and treat for the home crowd. 

The Monarchs quickly responded with three runs in the top half of the second. JJ Arbini (Saginaw Valley State) had a two RBI single and fellow college teammate Mark Harden followed suit with a RBI groundout, giving the Monarchs an early 3-1 lead. The Leprechauns failed to respond in that inning, despite a one out double by Jacob Gumieny (Grand Rapids CC). 

The game stalled in the third and the fourth innings, with the Leprechauns only managing one baserunner in those innings, off of a walk by Collin Overholt (Ashland), who after striking out in his first at bat, walked in four straight plate appearances. 

The massive turning point in the game came in the Leprechauns’ fifth inning. The Monarchs sent in Nathan Riffe in relief for the inning, The Leprechauns had the bases loaded after an infield single by Zach Hopman (Michigan State) single to lead off the inning and two hit by pitches. With two outs, the Leprechauns had not scored yet in the inning. Riffe then hit two more batters and walked another two to allow four runs to score without one ball getting put in play. Lucas Rick, the Western Michigan Bronco, capped off the inning with a two RBI single. This put six runs up for the inning, with just two hits, giving the Leprechauns a 7-3 lead.

Despite the deficit, the Monarchs refused to go away. They responded with five runs of their own in the top of the sixth inning, getting walked four times by Leprechauns pitching and getting four hits as well. Suddenly, the convincing lead Royal Oak had just gained had disappeared, with the Monarchs going up 8-7. 

The seesaw leaned back towards Royal Oak in their bottom half of the sixth, though. The score became 9-8 ‘Chauns, with four straight singles to begin the inning, the last one coming from Tyler Yakimisky (University of Illinois-Springfield), giving the Leprechauns a lead that seemed anything but secure based off of the events of the last two innings, but it ended up being the final lead change of the game.

The Monarchs threatened to take the lead right back, but Valparaiso product Christian Hack left them stranded with a huge strikeout, giving a yell that could be heard throughout the Lucky Corner immediately afterwards.

AJ Kostic soon padded the lead with a towering three-run home run in the seventh, his third hit of the game and this second round-tripper of the game, giving the Leprechauns their second four run lead of the day, 12-8. They would put up one last insurance run in the eighth to make it 13-8.

For the eighth inning, Royal Oak turned to their Michigan “Mann,” Brandon Mann. He shut the door on the game, hurling two shutout innings, overpowering Monarch batters with a blistering fastball. He repeated that same performance in the ninth, ending the game by forcing a high pop fly to shallow center, which was handled by center fielder Jacob Yarberry (Coker College) to close the book on a 13-8 Leprechauns victory. This is Royal Oak’s fourth win in four days, with this one being extra special against the defending GLSCL North Division Champions, giving fans a great sign that Royal Oak is ready to compete with anyone and win more games this season. They have the day off for Sunday, but will be back home for one last exhibition game against the Livonia Firebirds on Monday at 7:05 p.m. This will lead into the first official league games of the season for Royal Oak, who will have a three game series against the Monarchs from June 6-8, with the first and third games at the Lucky Corner.