6-run 5th inning lifts Saints over Saginaw

Manistee’s Kirk Myers fires a pitching during the Saints’ 12-9 win over the Saginaw Sugar Beets at Rietz Park on Sunday. (Kyle Kotecki/News Advocate)

MANISTEE — The Manistee Saints have yet to see a weekend where they play every scheduled game. The Saints also have yet to suffer a loss. Sunday’s scheduled doubleheader did nothing to change that as Manistee topped the Saginaw Sugar Beets 12-9 in the opener before the nightcap was called off due to rain.

The win moves the Saints to 6-0 in the Great Lakes United Baseball League while the Sugar Beets fall to 4-1.

Manistee trailed 7-0 through two innings before the Saints’ bats caught fire.

“I tell you what, when you get down 7-0, it really makes you check yourself a little bit,” said Manistee manager Tyrone Collins. “Our guys responded really well and you have to be proud of that effort, because it’s easy to fold up your tent and go home when you’re down seven.” 

The Saints trailed by one run when they came up to bat in the bottom of the fifth. Nate Lange tied things up with an RBI single and Lance Briggs drove in Devin Sempert to give Manistee the lead. With the bases loaded and one out, Nick Brzezinski sent a shot over the centerfield wall for a grand slam home run that put the Saints up 12-7.

“I’m really proud of the guys and their efforts, and the fact that they didn’t give up,” Collins said. “We just kept chipping away and I can’t say enough about Nick Brzezinski. … He had six RBIs by himself and he hit a grand slam. He was just really focused and he played great.”

Saginaw managed a two-run single in the top of the sixth, but that was as close as the Sugar Beets would get as Manistee held on to win.

Brzezinski went 2-for-3 with a grand slam and six RBIs, Trenton Smiley batted 2-for-3 with a double and three RBIs, Nate Lange hit 2-for-3 with an RBI and Logan Briggs finished 1-for-3 with an RBI.

Saginaw held a comfortable 7-0 lead through two innings. Manistee got on the board in the third when Brzezinski was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Trenton Smiley blasted a three-run double before eventually scoring on an error to pull the Saints within two runs heading into the fourth.

“I tell you what, when you get down those seven runs and the conditions aren’t well — it’s raining and cold and ugly out there — and then you go out and lay an egg in a couple innings and get down seven, it’s just nice to believe you have the ability to come back,” Collins said. “And then when you actually go and do it and prove it to yourself, it’s even better.”

Manistee made it 7-6 in the fourth inning when Brzezinski drove in Lucas Weinert with a single.

Cam Fewless started on the bump for Manistee, going 1 1/3 and allowing three hits, seven runs and two earned while walking four and striking out one. Kirk Myers pitched 4 1/3 innings of relief, giving up four hits and two earned runs while striking out four and walking five. Kyle Gorski threw in the final inning, giving up two hits.

“Kirk Myers is a nice pitcher,” Collins said. “We’re really happy to have him on our squad. We didn’t know exactly what we had when we recruited him, but his numbers looked pretty good at college. We’re still feeling him out, but he’s definitely a guy that we want on our team. He came in and just put up zeros.

“He wanted the ball,” Collins continued. “He wanted to go back out there for another inning, but I’m still learning him and his pitch count was starting to elevate a little bit. I have a lot of guys available to pitch, especially only having one (scheduled) doubleheader. I told him, ‘Look up at the scoreboard. Zero, zero, zero — that was you.’ I said, ‘You did your job, so let’s let somebody else go do theirs.’ But he did a great job and I’m very proud of his effort, too.”

The Sugar Beets will have a chance at revenge this weekend when the Saints head to Saginaw for a four-game series. The first game is slated for Saturday at 1 p.m.

“The nice thing is, we learned a little bit about their team, and I think they learned quite a bit about us,” Collins said. “We’re definitely not a team that’s going to back down from anybody. We come out of this weekend still undefeated, and they go home with a loss.”

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