The Grand Haven baseball team got the last laugh with two wins over Spring Lake in their Bucs Pride rivalry doubleheader. Game 1 came down to the wire, with Grand Haven plating two runs in the sixth to secure a 6-3 victory.
The Lakers ran out of gas, and arms, in Game 2, falling by a final score of 9-3, as darkness truncated the game after five innings.
“Can’t get any better than that,” said Grand Haven head coach Mike Hansen. “Winning two and playing for a good cause. It really is a fun day for the community, getting both sides of the drawbridge to come out. The kids know each other, which makes it fun, and it’s an important cause. Good day.”
“Grand Haven is a good hitting team and a good defensive team, and they showed it,” said Spring Lake head coach Jeff Lindsey. “We had two pitchers who couldn’t throw strikes and were all over the zone. They left the ball up and Grand Haven took advantage.
“What this day is all about, the cause and what it stands for, makes this feel good, despite the results. It is a fun day to come here and be a part of.”
Game 1 saw Grand Haven’s Mason Osborne take the win over Spring Lake’s Zach Keyser. The Bucs took an early lead with two runs in the third, scoring on a sacrifice fly and a wild pitch. They would tack on two more in the fourth on Landon Keeler and Ethan Prinns RBI singles before the Lakers got on the board.
In the bottom of the fourth, singles by David Rumptz and Rylan Peets and a walk for Isiah Lindsey loaded the bases. Mason Holmes then picked up a run via walk before Peirce Glore and Rumptz sent home sacrifice runs to close the lead to 4-3. The Bucs iced their victory in the seventh with an RBI double by Owen Krizan and a sacrifice RBI by Mattson, scoring Krizan.
Game 2 got out of hand quickly, as Grand Haven plated five runs in the second inning. Spring Lake scored one in the bottom, before the Bucs rounded four more runs in the top of the third. RBIs by Peets and Rumptz rounded out the scoring as inning four and five went scoreless. C.J. Saxe took the loss while Jared Schwartz picked up the win.
The Bucs used dominant base running to grease their offense in Game 1, along with some timely hitting and untimely walks from Spring Lake. They took 11 bases via steal or wild pitch, racking up their six runs with just eight hits.
“It wasn’t a plan coming in,” Hansen said of the baserunning prowess. “But, when you get into the game and see what isn’t being tended to, you take advantage. We saw there was an opportunity and were getting some great jumps.
“It still was a bit of a nail-biter at the end. The difference was timely hitting. We got a couple walks and bases with some timely hits and scored a few in the sixth to make it comfortable.”
Game 2 didn’t necessitate any trickery, as Grand Haven found their sweet spot at the plate.
“We came in with a better approach,” Grand Haven shortstop Jarrett Prins said. “We hit the ball the other way and had a better approach to the plate. We played good defense and hit with two strikes. That is always a winning recipe.”
The poor weather at the outset of the season continues to bite spring teams. Spring Lake struggled from the mound Friday with the back of its pitching rotation still in early season form, and the front already burned on conference games this week.
“We had our No. 4 and No. 5 starters out there, and they haven’t gotten a lot of chances this year because of the rainouts,” Lindsey said. “We lost six games early on and these guys would have thrown all of them.
“It was Foster’s fourth start and Saxe’s second. Grand Haven put the ball in play and put it in the right spots today. They had a string of four or five hits in a row that went all over the field, not just one spot.”
In Game 1, the Lakers did enough to stay relevant down to the wire, employing their typical aggressive base running and timely bats early.
“We were putting the ball in play early and have some good base running early,” Lindsey added. “Then, I think we started getting a little over aggressive. We took ourselves out of a few innings getting caught in the base paths. That is the rough thing about how we play. I want them to be aggressive, but sometimes it gets the better of you. But, I would rather go out that way.”
The sweep was especially sweet for Grand Haven after dropping a 1-1 contest in walk off fashion last season to their rivals and a particularly nasty collapse against Hudsonville on Thursday. On top of all that, the cause wasn’t lost in the victory.
“It feels really nice, really good to pick up two,” Prinns said. “Especially after last year. We got beat 1-1 so to come back and sweep felt good.
“It is really important that we remember to play the came for the cancer survivors, fighters and those who lost their battles. It is cool that we get to do that and add some special flair to this rivalry.”
“This helps our confidence after losing our last game to Hudsonville in crushing fashion,” Hansen said. “We were up 6-0 in the seventh and ended up losing that game 7-6. That shows how important mental preparation and focus are, even when you are up big like we were in Game 2. This game can turn around in a hurry.”
Grand Haven will look to levy that regained confidence as they begin their playoff journey at home Tuesday against Muskegon at 5 p.m. Spring Lake will look to bounce back and continue their rebound season in their district semifinal matchup with Kenowa Hills at home at noon next Saturday.