Saints sweep Tribe in 4-game weekend series

Manistee’s Logan Briggs (right) steals second base during the Saints’ 5-4 win over the Midland Tribe in the first game of a 4-game sweep over the weekend. (Scott Yoshonis/News Advocate)

Manistee’s Logan Briggs (right) steals second base during the Saints’ 5-4 win over the Midland Tribe in the first game of a 4-game sweep over the weekend. (Scott Yoshonis/News Advocate)

By KYLE KOTECKI

For the News Advocate

MANISTEE — The Manistee Saints swept their four-game series against the Midland Tribe over the weekend, winning 5-4 and 5-0 Saturday before winning 8-7 and 8-3 Sunday.

The sweep was much-needed as Manistee entered the weekend two games behind Oil City and South Central in the Great Lakes United Baseball League.

The two UBL-leading teams also squared off over the weekend, with Oil City taking both games in Saturday’s doubleheader. Sunday’s results were unavailable at press time.

“We’re very happy with the weekend overall,” said Saints manager Tyrone Collins. “I would have liked to have seen some better baserunning. We had a lot of baserunning mistakes throughout the weekend.

“When you finish the weekend 4-0, especially when we’re in the race that we’re in right now, you don’t want to overlook the baserunning mistakes — we have to fix those — but it’s still nice and positive to come out 4-0,” Collins added.

The Tribe drew first blood in the series when Midland player-manager Eric Wrozek hit a two-run home run in the top of the third in Saturday’s opener. He hit a solo shot in his next at-bat in the fifth.

“(Wrozek) is a heck of a ballplayer,” Collins said. “I think he’s around 32 years old now. It’s not like he’s a young guy, but he’s got good pedigree for sure.”

The Saints answered back with three runs in the bottom of the third. Lucas Richardson hit a two-RBI double and Logan Briggs scored on a sacrifice fly by Trenton Smiley to give Manistee (17-7) a 3-2 edge over Midland (3-15).

“We started a little rusty I thought in that first game, but it came back to us,” Collins said. “We started hitting the ball a little bit in the middle of the first game and overall I thought it went well.”

Richardson finished game one 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a double. Smiley batted 1-for-2 with an RBI and Travis McCormick went 2-for-4 with a run scored.

With Onekama Portager Austin Harper on the mound to close out the game and the Saints nursing a one-run lead, Collins walked the hot-hitting Wrozek before Harper struck out the final Midland batter to secure the victory.

“I put the tying run as it turns out at second base, but I was going to let the next guys beat me and not the guy that hit two home runs today, so it worked out in our favor,” Collins said. “I was very proud of the fact that (Harper) stepped in there and did a great job under the pressure, especially when I walked the tying run for him to second base.

“I had a mound visit,” Collins continued. “I told him, ‘I’m going to walk the guy and put you on the spot. We’ll see what you’re made of.’ And he did a great job.”

Cam Fewless started on the mound for the Saints, giving up four hits, three earned runs and three walks while striking out five in six innings. Harper allowed no hits and tallied one strikeout in his one inning of relief.

“Even with the two weeks off that we had, just throwing a couple bullpens throughout the week helped a lot,” Harper said. “I felt nice and loose. My arm didn’t hurt. The week off definitely helped for sure.”

Saturday’s nightcap saw Manistee’s Levi Irish take a no-hitter into the seventh inning. Midland’s David Watson singled to record a hit for the Tribe, but Irish was able to finish with a one-hit shutout.

Every time (Midland) put the ball in play I was pretty confident the defense behind me was in the right place,” Irish said. “Our offense put the bat on the ball and hit it where they weren’t. We got the job done.

“The only thing I could have worked on was minimizing my walks,” Irish continued. “Other than that, I feel like I did a good job. Kudos to (Watson), who broke up the no-hitter.”

Irish allowed one hit, no runs and four walks while striking out five.

The Saints scored three runs in the first inning of game two, with Smiley blasting a two-run home run over the right-field fence.

“We’re having fun at the ballpark,” Collins said. “The guys showed up.”

Smiley finished 1-for-3 with two RBIs and a home run. Richardson batted 3-for-3 with a run scored and Roddy MacNeil went 2-for-4 and also scored a run.

Manistee took an 8-5 lead into the seventh inning of Sunday’s opener. Kyle Gorski came in to close and got off to a shaky start, giving up a walk, a triple and a single against three of the first four batters faced before shortstop Smiley snagged a line drive and doubled off a runner to end the game.

MacNeil paced the Saints’ offense in the game, going 3-for-4 with a double, two RBIs and two runs scored. Nick Brzezinski went 1-for-4 with a three-RBI home run and Briggs finished 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs.

“We had one good inning which was helped with some walks by (Midland’s) pitcher, and I think they had an error in that inning,” Collins said. “We scored six runs (in the second inning). Other than that, we didn’t play real good baseball. We won. I don’t know if we deserved it, but we won.”

Robin Van Orden was the starting pitcher, giving up seven hits, five runs and three walks while tallying 10 strikeouts in six innings. Gorski gave up two hits, two runs and a walk in his one inning of relief.

In the final game of the series, the Saints scored seven runs in their final three innings at bat to put the game out of reach.

“It wasn’t pretty but we got it done,” Collins said.

Richardson led the way in Sunday’s nightcap by going 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored. Briggs ended up 2-for-4 with a run scored and Brzezinski finished 1-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI.

Tyler Waslawski gave up seven hits, five runs and three walks while striking out 10 in 6 1/3 innings. Andrew Childs got the game’s last two outs, walking one and striking out two while allowing no hits.

Evan Bauman of the Manistee Chippewas suited up for the Tribe Sunday, filling the roles of designated hitter and right fielder in the two games. He drew a walk in each game.

The Saints host a four-game series against the Michigan Collegiate Braves next weekend.

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