Saints win two of three vs. Braves

MANISTEE — Clint Druckenmiller hadn’t pitched in both games of a doubleheader since high school.

But the 2002 Ellsworth graduate turned back the clock on Sunday to lead the Saints to a pair of wins at Rietz Park as they took two of three from the Michigan Area Braves over the weekend.

The veteran lefthander started and got the win in Sunday’s 5-4 opener, then tossed two innings of relief for the win in the 7-6 second game of the Great Lakes United Baseball League opener.

“What do you call a guy like that? A workhorse,” said Saints manager Phil Kliber. “You just hand him the ball and he goes. Ten of the 11 years he’s been with me he always tells me ‘I can pitch tomorrow’ after he’s thrown 100 pitches the day before.”

Manistee Saints starter Clint Druckenmiller delivers a pitch during Sunday’s first game against the Michigan Area Braves at Rietz Park. (Matt Wenzel/News Advocate)

Manistee Saints starter Clint Druckenmiller delivers a pitch during Sunday’s first game against the Michigan Area Braves at Rietz Park. (Matt Wenzel/News Advocate)

Druckenmiller lasted just three innings in his first start of the season last weekend, but was sharp over the course of five hours and 129 total pitches Sunday. 

“I can’t complain,” he said. “I was happy with the way I played, especially coming off last weekend.”

The Saints (3-2, 2-1 UBL) opened the weekend with a 5-2 loss to the Braves in Saturday’s game. Starter Anthony Derrer struggled with his command and gave up two runs on no hits and six walks over two innings while battling a groin pull.

“He hurt himself in the bullpen warming up and didn’t say anything,” Kliber said. “He couldn’t pivot over that lead foot.”

Trailing 2-0, the Saints came back to tie the game in the fourth on an RBI double by Shawn Bates and an error that plated the second run. But a couple hits and three errors by the Saints led to three runs for the Braves (1-2) in the top of the sixth.

Zach Perry was charged with the loss after allowing three runs (one earned) on four hits and two walks with six strikeouts in four innings of relief.

Druckenmiller earned the win in Sunday’s opener after giving up one run on seven hits and two walks with four strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings.

Clinging to a 2-1 lead, the Saints scored three in the fifth, capped by a two-run single by Jarred Alkire. 

Steve Konsella took over for Druckenmiller to get the final out of the sixth but was roughed up in the seventh, giving up back-to-back home runs to right as the Braves pulled within a run. Perry came in to get the final two outs as Bates turned a 5-3 double play to end the game.

Payton Tyndall started Sunday’s second game and, like Derrer, struggled finding the plate. He allowed three runs on no hits, three strikeouts and seven walks over 2 2/3 innings.

“Tyndall was unhittable, but he was like Anthony was last week: He couldn’t get the ball over the plate,” Kliber said.

So, Kliber turned to Konsella, who gave up a pair of bombs in the opener.

“When a guy has a game like the first one when they go bing, bang, boom, you don’t want to let that guy go home for the whole week and stew about it,” Kliber said. “I told him after he got hit the first game, ‘you just sit down and stay warm because I’ll use you in the second game.’ He came in and did a pretty nice job.”

A four-run first inning staked the Saints to an early lead and Dylan Richardson’s RBI single made it 5-1 in the second. But, the Braves chipped away and, with the help of some sloppy defense, rallied to tie the game at 5-5 in the top of the fifth.

“It just seemed like we were going to win that game because we were ahead the whole time, then we made some real foolish decisions on defense to let them back in the game,” Kliber said. “We didn’t play very smart baseball for an inning or two.”

Alkire put the Saints back in front with a solo homer to right in the bottom of the fifth and Druckenmiller then took over for Konsella, who allowed two hits in 2 1/3 innings.

An error, hit batter and walk loaded the bases and the Braves scored on another error as catcher Nick MacGirr tried to throw behind the runner at first.

MacGirr, who plays for Muskegon Community College, made up for his miscue in the bottom of the sixth as the lefty hit a two-out solo homer to right. MacGirr had four hits and three RBIs in Sunday’s games.

“I called (Benzie Central coach) John Judge because that’s where he played his high school ball and John said, ‘Phil, just a flat-out hitter,’” Kliber said.

That homer was key in making up for defensive miscues to give Manistee a rare series win against the Braves.

“We didn’t play very well,” Kliber said, “but we got two out of three and that’s what counts.”

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