Saints looking to break league skid

A sweep against the Fulton Sultans on June 1 gave the Manistee Saints a solid start in the Gratiot County Baseball League.

Two series and four losses later and the Saints have dropped to the middle of the pack after being swept on consecutive weekends by the GCBL co-leading Ionia Orioles and Oil City Stags.

“I’m not real concerned yet,” said Saints manager Phil Kliber. “We played the best two teams in the league and they’re both undefeated. Playing in a 10-team league and you catch the best teams back-to-back — we could have very easily split with both of them.”

Zach Perry is scheduled to start for the Saints in Sunday’s opener at St. Louis. (Matt Wenzel/News Advocate file photo)

Zach Perry is scheduled to start for the Saints in Sunday’s opener at St. Louis. (Matt Wenzel/News Advocate file photo)

The road ahead doesn’t get much easier for the Saints (6-6, 3-5 GCBL) as they play a doubleheader Sunday at the St. Louis Spirits (5-3 GCBL), who are in third place in the league.

“The way they set up the schedule, we’re not catching any breaks in the Gratiot right away,” Kliber said. “We’re playing the top teams all in a row. I guess that’s OK, but you could use a little breather where you can get a little steam and get your guys some confidence.”

Manistee, which dropped two in a three-game series last week at Oil City (the Saints won the opener, but it was Great Lakes United Baseball League game), kicks off the weekend today at home with a doubleheader against the Newaygo Loggers, an age 19 and under American Legion team. Due to high school graduation parties, Kliber said he’ll be shorthanded all weekend.

“You’re hoping when you play teams like we’re playing (today), that they’re kind of tune-up games, and then you don’t have half your team there,” he said. “That isn’t much of a tune-up.”

Chris Konsella, who has yet to allow an earned run in four relief appearances totaling 6 2/3 innings, is scheduled to start today’s 1 p.m. opener at Rietz Park while the second game starter hasn’t been determined.

“He’s a recent high school graduate and I’m not sure how much I can get out of him,” Kliber said of Konsella. “If he can go deep for us, that would be good. If we have to use four pitchers (today), that leaves us in a bad situation Sunday against St. Louis.”

About 15 minutes prior to today’s first game, there will be a ceremony dedicating the new scoreboard at Rietz Park.

The Saints will play their third consecutive GCBL road series on Sunday with Zach Perry scheduled to start the opener at St. Louis. Perry (1-1, 2.74 ERA) didn’t allow an earned run during his four-inning start last weekend.

“He’s pitched real well,” Kliber said. “He’s around the plate all the time.”

Now a month into the season, the Saints are still looking for consistency.

“We’ll play really well for a little while then really poorly and make not only fielding errors, but bad decisions too,” Kliber said. “We’re a quarter of the way through our schedule and still struggling to find a lineup that plays well all the time. I think we’re coming, but we need everyone there at the same time to gain some consistency.”

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