Grand Haven’s win completes a season sweep over the Falcons and helps erase an uninspiring showing in a loss on Wednesday against Reeths-Puffer.
“Our energy was gone against Puffer and our pitchers failed to hit their spots,” Grand Haven coach Morey Wagenmaker said. “Tonight, we showed we can give up some hits, but if you don’t compound those with errors — which we didn’t do today — and our pitchers get ahead in the count, we can get through it.”
Grand Haven (11-8, 6-4 O-K Red) committed just one error during the contest and it benefited from a strong start offensively.
The Bucs’ aggressive approach against East Kentwood starter Myles Mowery paid dividends, as Haven’s first three batters reached base safely, including an RBI single from No. 3 hitter Doug Zelenka.
“Doug came into tonight hitting over (.440),” Wagenmaker said. “Plus he’s doing it with power.”
Clean-up hitter Will VerDuin added a sacrifice fly, and a Falcons’ error on an Erik Martin smash to shortstop allowed Danny Cotter to score, making it 3-1 after one inning.
The Bucs pushed their advantage to 5-1 an inning later, as Cotter and Matt Kroll each laced deep shots over Falcons’ outfielders for RBI doubles.
East Kentwood got one back in the third off of Bucs’ starter Mike Ginocchio and looked to be in store for several more runs in the fourth. The Falcons loaded the bases on a walk and a pair of solid bunts, but they could produce only one run due to bad base running and solid Bucs’ defense.
With one out and Falcons on first and third, the Bucs made a key play on an attempted double steal. Bucs’ catcher Adam Krizan fired toward second, but shortstop Jeff Stevens cut off the throw short, and returned an on-the-money dart back to Krizan in time to tag out the Falcons’ Jason Dickey at the plate.
“That’s a big momentum breaker right there,” Wagenmaker said. “If they score there, they’re on top of the world. That play changes the whole complexion of not only that inning, but the entire game.”
Grand Haven then escaped any further damage, as they tagged out the Falcons’ Ryan Prusco at second on a base-running miscue.
Kroll added his second impressive blast in the bottom of the fourth, as his RBI double landed just short of the center-field fence, allowing Cotter to easily score.
“We had a hit-and-run call on, so I was swinging no matter what,” the Bucs’ third baseman said. “I didn’t think it was gone, at least not in this yard. Anywhere else though, maybe.”
The 6-3 advantage was enough support for Grand Haven’s stable of arms. After Ginocchio was pulled with two on and two out in the fifth, reliever Cody Otting calmly produced a groundout to get out of the jam.
Otting also eased out of a two-out, bases-loaded jam in the sixth, as he got the Falcons’ Aaron Sauer to pop out in foul territory.
In the seventh, the Bucs’ third pitcher, Reid Weber, allowed a pair of base runners on a walk and single, but Cotter closed out the win by retiring the Falcons’ No. 1 and 2 hitters.
Grand Haven finished with nine hits off of Mowery, but just one after the fourth inning. Aside from Kroll’s strong effort at the plate, Cotter and Verduin had two hits apiece.
Ginocchio improved his season record to 2-1, after allowing nine hits and three earned runs.
NOTES: Wagenmaker said senior Adam Poel, the team’s No. 1 pitcher suffered strained muscles from an awkward slide into third base against Reeths-Puffer on Wednesday. Wagenmaker refused to speculate how long Poel would be out. “He’ll have to work his way back into the lineup,” he said. “He needs some time to heal up a little.” … Grand Haven drew Muskegon in the opening round of the Division 1 districts, which are hosted by Mona Shores on June 4. The Sailors and Reeths-Puffer meet in the other semifinal.