Saints win 3 in home-opening series

Lucas Weinert celebrates his solo home run Saturday during the Saints’ home opener at Rietz Park. (Kyle Kotecki/News Advocate)

MANISTEE — Two weeks and five games into the season, the Manistee Saints are without a blemish to their name.

The Saints tacked on three more wins to their perfect record over the weekend, sweeping a trio of Great Lakes United Baseball League games from Michigan Sports Academy in their home-opening series at Rietz Park.

On Saturday, Manistee (5-0, 5-0 UBL) edged MSA 6-5 in the opener and exploded for 11 runs in the sixth inning of the nightcap en route to a 17-7 victory. The Saints kept it rolling Sunday with a 10-0 win before the rain washed away the second half of the day’s scheduled doubleheader.

“We certainly would have liked to get another game in, but going 3-0 on the weekend, we’ll definitely take that,” said Manistee manager Tyrone Collins. “We didn’t play our best baseball, I don’t think, but we did enough to get the job done.”

Michigan Sports Academy (0-5, 0-5 UBL) kicked things off Saturday, scoring a pair of runs in the first inning of the opener. The Saints, however, took the lead in their half of the third, plating three runs with a solo homer from Lucas Weinert, an RBI triple from Nick Brzezinski and an RBI single from Alex Strickland.

The back-and-forth would continue as MSA plated a pair in the top of the fifth to regain the lead at 4-3, before Strickland took it right back for the Saints in the bottom half with a two-run shot to right.

Brzezinski made it 6-4 with another RBI single in the bottom of the sixth, but MSA threatened the lead in the top of the seventh by loading the bases with no one out and scoring a run to cut it to 6-5.

The Saints were able to weather the storm, though, as Devin Sempert made a nice play to throw the potential tying run out at home and Kirk Myers struck out the final two batters to secure the victory.

Manistee starter Cam Fewless picked up the win, allowing four runs (one earned) on four hits and three walks while striking out six in five innings. The Saints’ Austin Harper got a hold and Myers a save on the mound.

Brzezinski led the way at the plate, with three hits and two RBIs while Strickland went 2-for-3 with three RBIs.

Saturday’s nightcap was just as back-and-forth until the Saints’ offense erupted in the bottom of the sixth for a runaway win.

Manistee scored a run apiece in the first, second and fourth innings, while MSA eventually tied the game at 3-3 with a string of one-run innings in the third, fourth and fifth.

The Saints plated three more in their half of the fifth for a 6-3 lead, but MSA responded with two in the sixth. Then Manistee blew it open.

With a mix of walks and singles, the Saints ballooned their cushion as MSA faced 11 batters before getting the first out of the inning.

“They just ran out of pitching and started throwing everybody but the kitchen sink at us, just trying to get through it,” Collins said. “And we were able to take advantage.

“It can be tough in the summer, when not everybody can travel to away games, which I think was probably their situation there.”

Manistee had 14 hits in all, led by Trenton Smiley with four while Brzezinski and Logan Briggs had two apiece. Smiley, Brzezinski, Sempert and Lucas Richardson each had three RBIs.

Ty Sobczak got the start and the win in the nightcap, allowing three runs (two earned) on seven hits and a walk with four strikeouts in five innings of work.

The Saints didn’t show any sign of slowing down Sunday as they plated eight runs in the first inning of the rainy opener. Manistee’s Levi Irish threw five shut out innings, allowing just two hits and two walks while striking out two batters en route to the mercy-rule victory.

Briggs led the Saints at the plate with two hits and two RBIs while Sempert and Travis McCormick each had a hit and two RBIs to their name.

The teams started to play a second game, but it was called due to rain after just two innings.

“One of the goals we had going into the weekend was to curb some of our walks, and that number was substantially less than what it was last week, which was great,” Collins said of his team’s pitching. “(At the plate), we put the ball in play at the right times, took advantage of some walks that they gave us, so overall we were pleased. We did our job.

“That team’s down a little bit, so we’re supposed to win those games, and we did,” he said. “Sometimes they can get away from you, so you definitely take it as a positive when you win the games you’re supposed to.”

The Saints are slated to host the Saginaw Sugar Beets in league action this Sunday, with the doubleheader slated for 1 p.m. at Rietz Park.

“With two weeks under our belt, we’re sitting at 5-0 and feeling pretty good about ourselves,” Collins said. “But I think (the upcoming doubleheader) will be a little bit more of a test for us.

“It’s against a higher caliber team, so I think it’ll tell us a better story of where we’re at.”

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