Reeling from a four-game losing streak in league play, the Leprechauns were in dire need of a victory, and faced off against the Richmond Jazz, who were 4-1 in GLSCL play going into tonight. Royal Oak got that huge win, led by the pitching of Northwood Timberwolf Tyler Sager. He started his outing with four perfect innings.
The Royal Oak offense was happy to provide run support as well. They took an early 1-0 lead in the second inning thanks to a solo shot to left center by Collin Overholt (Ashland), his second home run of the year. A second run came in an inning later after Michael Stellrecht (Binghamton) singled to begin the inning. He advanced to second on a wild pitch, and then two groundouts brought him home, with Josh Getz (Northwood) receiving an RBI.
The only time Sager faced any serious trouble was in the top of the fifth. He allowed his first baserunner, as Jordan Daphney (Wilson College) singled. The bases were suddenly loaded after Sager walked two batters shortly afterward, but he struck out Jordan McKenzie (Wilson College) on a massive 3-2 pitch to keep the score at 2-0 Leprechauns.
Royal Oak added an insurance run shortly afterward, with Getz tacking on his second RBI groundout of the game, hitting in Michael Lareau (Wabash Valley), making it 3-0 ‘Chauns.
After six innings of scoreless pitching, surrendering only two hits and two walks on 99 pitches, the Leprechauns had no choice but to turn to the bullpen for the rest of the game. They initially turned to Michigan State Spartan Stephen Ruhle, who immediately struggled with command. He loaded the bases with one out, walking three of the four batters he faced before he was taken out. Calvin University’s Nolan Coil inherited the jam, and forced a pop-up to record a huge second out of the inning, and it looked like the Leprechauns might escape. Aydin Wright, out of Frontier CC, stepped up to the plate, and mashed a 1-0 pitch to deep center for a double, clearing the bases. Suddenly, the game was tied at three, which eliminated the possibility of Sager receiving the win. Royal Oak went quietly in their half of the seventh, and the game suddenly looked like one that might go into extras or have the GLSCL sudden death rule invoked.
Coil received the top of the eighth on top of the last two outs of the seventh, and kept the score tied, only letting one man on via a walk. For the bottom half of the eighth, Richmond sent out Jacob Young (Parkland College). Trouble immediately arose for him, with Caden Duryea (Northwood) hitting a leadoff single. TJ Yakimisky (Univ. of Illinois Springfield) then reached on a fielding error by third baseman Jonathan Vigoa (Miami, Ohio). Michael Lareau then gave Royal Oak the lead, hitting a ground ball up the middle for a two RBI double, making it 5-3 Leprechauns. He would also come around to score, after Trey Haeger (Hillsdale) advanced him to third on a groundout, advancing home on a wild pitch afterwards.
For the save, Ryan Szczepaniak (Michigan State) got the ball. He ended the game with relative ease, striking out the first two he faced. He did allow a single, but got Aydin Wright to hit a weak fly ball to right to finalize the score at 6-3, Leprechauns.
Game two of the series will be another home game for the ‘Chauns, with first pitch being at 7:05 p.m. at the Lucky Corner, before hitting the road to Richmond’s place in Indiana for two more games.