Saints to host Sunday doubleheader

Saints player Nate Lang puts the ball in play at Rietz Park. The Saints will host a doubleheader against the Saginaw Sugar Beets on Sunday at 1 p.m. (News Advocate file photos)

The Manistee Saints host the Saginaw Sugar Beets in a Great Lakes United Baseball League doubleheader on Sunday, as both teams look to hand the other its first loss of the young season.

The Saints entered the season looking to maintain their momentum following a 22-12 season last year. And so far, so good.

“We wanted to get out to a good start this year, and we’ve done that,” said Manistee manager Tyrone Collins. “We have some new players and they’re seeing some playing time. We’re still figuring out those guys and seeing what they can do for us.” 

The Saints have looked impressive thus far and sit atop the UBL with a 5-0 record. Saginaw is a newcomer to the league, but the team is not to be taken lightly as the Sugar Beets currently hold a 4-0 record.

“The Sugar Beets come from a different league,” Collins said. “They’re new to us this year, but they’re typically a pretty solid ball club. They’ve been around for many years. They’re well coached and I think it’s probably going to be our best competition so far this year.”

Manistee has three players batting above .400 through five games, with Nicholas Brzezinski leading the way at .471 and Logan Briggs (.444) and Alex Strickland (.417) not far behind. Lucas Weinert leads the team in both slugging (.727) and on-base percentage (.682), and those four headline a lineup imposing to any pitching staff.

Sunday’s doubleheader should be closely contested. Collins anticipates Manistee being able to score some runs, so it may boil down to mitigating the Sugar Beets’ offensive firepower.

“Offensively, we’re going to have to put the ball in play,” Collins said. “We’re going to score some runs and as long as our pitchers can keep us in the game, I think our offense is capable of putting up big numbers, so I think we’ll do all right.

“Of course, the defense has to play well behind our pitchers,” he continued. “It’s the same thing week in and week out. We have to go out and take care of our business and I think we’ll be there at the end.”

Collins is leaning toward starting Cam Fewless and Ty Sobczak on Sunday. Fewless currently has an ERA of 1.400, having allowed four hits while striking out six in five innings. Sobczak has pitched nine innings thus far and holds an ERA of 3.889.

The Saints are partnering with the Prostate Cancer Understanding Prevention Screenings Foundation for a Prostate Cancer Awareness Day on Sunday.

“(The P.C.U.P.S. Foundation) is an awareness group,” Collins said. “They partner with many baseball teams throughout the state of Michigan and around the country to bring awareness to prostate cancer. And what better day to tie it into than Father’s Day? …

“Hopefully we have a great turnout,” he continued. “The players will all be wearing blue prostate cancer awareness wristbands. The umpires and coaches will be wearing them as well. Again, it’s about building awareness and seeing what we can do to help out.”

The opener is slated to start at 1 p.m. on Sunday. 

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