In the first game of a Tuesday doubleheader against the Muskegon Clippers, the Leprechauns offense was simply overmatched against Muskegon’s pitching staff, failing to put across any runs. The loss drops Royal Oak to 11-14, making their already slim playoff chances even more distant. Muskegon boosts their league-best record to 22-3, growing their lead at the top of the standings.
Royal Oak only used two pitchers in the game, and both played very well, evidenced by the fact that they held a Clippers team that averages 6.68 runs per game to just one. The one run was not even earned. The lone run came in the top of the fourth. Stoney Smith led off the inning with a double for Muskegon. After the next two batters struck out, the inning continued after Connor McClennen (Saginaw Valley State) made an error at shortstop. Colin Cornwell then hit an RBI single to bring the run in.
Stephen Ruhle (Michigan State), received a loss that he did not deserve because of the unearned run. Ruhle started the game by retiring the first nine batters that he saw. In the inning, he pitched four innings, giving up only two hits, striking out seven, and not walking anyone.
Muskegon’s starting pitcher, DJ Thompson, matched Ruhle’s performance with his own very strong performance. He received the win by getting through five innings, striking out six and surviving five hits, only throwing 59 pitches in the process.
Brandon Mann (Michigan) shined for the Leprechauns out of the bullpen, handing three scoreless innings in for the Leprechauns. He didn’t give up a run, surrendering three hits.
Royal Oak squandered a few chances in the shortened contest. In the third inning, the Leprechauns had runners on first and second following a single by Ryan Callanan (San Bernardino Valley) and Trey Haeger (Hillsdale) getting hit by a pitch. Jayden Lopez (UC Riverside) then hit a weak ground ball to the pitcher, which became a double play that got Muskegon out of the inning. In the fifth, TJ Yakimisky (Univ. of Illinois-Springfield) and Connor McClennen both singled to put runners on first and second with nobody out. The next three hitters were unable to move them across, keeping the Leprechauns off the scoreboard. In their final chance to score, Collin Overholt (Ashland) swung at strike three, but still reached first after the ball went to the backstop. The next three batters also struck out, giving Muskegon’s Ben Alderson a rare four-strikeout inning and a save.
As this article is being written, players are preparing for the second game of the doubleheader. That game will be another seven-inning contest. A second article for that game will be up shortly after that game ends as well.
Following this doubleheader, the Leprechauns will have two more games against the Clippers, with a game in Muskegon tomorrow and the fourth and final game of the series being in Royal Oak on Thursday.