Saints ousted from NABF tournament after loss to Muskegon Bluejays

Saints pitcher Cam Fewless fires a pitch during a weekend series against the Oil City Stags June 23 at Rietz Park. The Saints’ fell 11-0 to the Muskegon Bluejays Friday and were eliminated from the NABF tournament. (News Advocate File Photo)

Saints pitcher Cam Fewless fires a pitch during a weekend series against the Oil City Stags June 23 at Rietz Park. The Saints’ fell 11-0 to the Muskegon Bluejays Friday and were eliminated from the NABF tournament. (News Advocate File Photo)

SAGINAW — After the Manistee Saints bested the Michigan Senior Braves 13-7 in a game that took two days to complete due to rain delays, their National Amateur Baseball Federation tournament run was halted by the Muskegon Bluejays, who dealt the Saints their second loss in the double-elimination tournament in Saginaw Friday by a score of 11-0.

“Muskegon came out hot — there’s no doubt,” said Saints manager Tyrone Collins. “They’re a strong, strong team. They hit the ball like crazy. They played phenomenal defense. Their pitchers hit their spot really well.”

The Bluejays jumped out to a 6-0 lead after one inning and Manistee was never able to answer back. Jake Wright — a newcomer to the Saints — started the game, giving up four hits, six runs with four earned and three walks before Patrick Brautigam was brought in to slow the bleeding.

“Jake pitched really well, to be perfectly honest,” Collins said. “He was just missing on a couple things. He had a couple freebies that happened. … Then (Muskegon) hit a long bomb early and before you know it we’re down 6-0 before we blink.”

Travis McCormick managed to record the only hit for the Saints with a single in the fifth inning and Eddie Davidson drew walks in both of his plate appearances.

“We hit the ball pretty well there,” Collins said. “We did. We just hit it right at them. Cam Fewless absolutely annihilated a ball up the middle but they made a great play and turned it into a double play. Things like that are the way the game went. We hit it right at them.

“Credit their defense,” Collins continued. “Credit their pitching. They’re a solid group of athletes. They’re very well-coached and they’ve played together a long time. They did what they needed to do and we have to give them credit for that.”

The Saints went to bed Thursday night holding a 5-3 lead over the Michigan Senior Braves in the bottom of the fifth in a game postponed due to rain. The Braves put up three runs in the bottom of the fifth Friday morning to take a 6-5 advantage.

“It was frustrating,” Collins said. “(The Braves) came out and took the lead. I thought we started out a little bit flat, but again, it’s part of that thing that happens when you have some downtime in between things.”

The one-run deficit proved to be the wake-up call Manistee needed, as they followed a six-run sixth inning with a three-run seventh while only allowing the Braves to score once more.

“We just came alive, to be perfectly honest,” Collins said. “These guys decided they didn’t want to go away yet and they started just absolutely crushing the ball.”

Nicholas Brzezinski paced the Saints’ offense by going 4-for-5 with a home run and three RBIs. McCormick chipped in with a 2-for-3 performance, recording two doubles and three RBIs. Alex Strickland went 2-for-5 with two doubles and three RBIs and Trenton Smiley hit 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs.

Tyler Waslowski started for the Saints, allowing five hits, three runs and three walks while striking out two in four innings pitched. Fewless gave up one earned run in two innings of relief before Wright pitched a hitless inning to close the game.

“We went through a couple pitchers in the end,” Collins said. “The other thing that’s a little bit interesting when you get a little bit deeper into tournament play is that you have to start really watching your pitch counts because you might need some more pitchers. I was throwing guys 20 or 25 pitches and then I’d grab another guy.”

Though he would have liked to advance further in the the tournament, Collins is proud of his team and appreciates the hard work they put in throughout the course of the season.

“I’m not making excuses,” Collins said. “Overall, we had a good season. I told the guys, ‘Don’t let this final game define our season, because the Bluejays are a darn good team and we finished the season 22-12 and that’s something to be proud of.’”

Leave a Reply