Muskegon Clippers pitchers struggle in relief, fall to visiting Southern Ohio

By Dave Hart

MUSKEGON – Rough pitching has suddenly been a weakness in recent contests for the Muskegon Clippers.

On Friday, the Clippers allowed eight late runs before falling to Southern Ohio.

It was a similar result on Saturday night as the Clippers’ bullpen allowed eight runs in the seventh inning and six more in the ninth frame in a 16-6 loss to the Copperheads at Marsh Field.

For just the second time this season, the Clippers dropped their second straight contest and fell to a 14-9 overall record, still good for second place in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate Baseball League standings.

Photo/Leo Valdez

The Clippers will look to avoid the sweep on Sunday when they again host the Southern Ohio Copperheads. First pitch is slated for 4:05 p.m.

“It’s a tough set up right now,” said Clippers’ manager Logan Fleener. “We just don’t have enough arms and when that happens you put pressure on guys and at the end of the day the gas tank is empty.

“I feel bad for these guys and these fans because that is not the product we have put out much in the last three years.”

The game started as a great pitching duel between Muskegon’s newcomer Keegan Batka and the Copperheads pitcher Elijah Laurent.

The contest didn’t have a run scored until the fourth inning as Southern Ohio took a 2-0 lead through five innings, scoring a single run in both the fourth and fifth innings.

The Clippers finally responded in the sixth, scoring four runs to take a 4-2 lead that did not last for very long.

Muskegon tied up the game with a two-run double from Sam Lisiak, then took the lead on an RBI single from Austin Cicerone before scoring another run on an error.

The Copperheads responded with eight runs in the seventh inning starting with back-to-back two run doubles to give Southern Ohio a 6-4 lead.

Photo/Leo Valdez

Southern Ohio added an RBI double, a two-run double and an RBI groundout to complete the eight-run frame.

Muskegon added a run in the eighth inning on a sacrifice fly from Preston Leon to cut the Clippers deficit to 10-5 heading into the final inning.

The Copperheads added insurance in the ninth, scoring six more runs to take a commanding 16-5 lead.

The Clippers closed out the scoring in the ninth, scoring on a wild pitch.

Cicerone was the only Clipper with multiple hits while Lisiak knocked in two runs.

Batka pitched the no-decision in his Muskegon debut, allowing one unearned run on one hit while striking out seven batters in 3 2/3 innings.

Dylan Kaminski suffered the loss in relief, allowing six runs on three hits in 2 1/3 innings.

Christian Hoffman struggled in his Muskegon debut, allowing eight runs on seven hits in 2 1/3 innings, and position player Carson McCoy had to record the final two outs for the Clippers.

The Clipper pitching staff allowed 11 walks, while the offense drew nine walks during the contest.

Anna Harden

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