CLASS AAA BASEBALL: Errors prove costly as Marshall gets tripped up by Grand Rapids 6-2 at state tournament
JORDAN — The Marshall and Grand Rapids baseball teams both entered the Class AAA tournament red-hot, with fourth-seeded MHS winning its last five straight and 8 of its past 11 games and the fifth-seeded Thunderhawks winning their last seven in a row and 13 of their past 14 contests.
With their seasons on the line, Marshall took an early lead but Grand Rapids was right there to answer, capitalizing on five MHS errors to earn a 6-2 victory on Tuesday at the Mini-Met in Jordan and advance in the tournament.
The loss ends Marshall’s season at 17-7 overall.
Marshall coach Chace Pollock said they felt good about their start to the game, but once Grand Rapids took the lead, they just couldn’t fully recover.
“We jumped out to a 2-0 lead and feel pretty good about it and then they answered with three that next inning and that’s when the game kind of turned,” Pollock said. “You’ve got to give their pitcher a lot of credit, he pitched with a lead and let his defense work. They beat us [today], we lost to a better team.”
It was a pitcher’s duel to start, as Marshall’s Josh Baker and Grand Rapids’ Kyle Henke kept things scoreless for the first two and a half innings while allowing just three combined hits. Then in the bottom of the third, MHS was able to strike first. Tyler Maeyaert lined a one-out double before a wild pitch and a walk from Chase Douglas put baserunners on the corners. Baker then reached on an error to plate a run before Connor Neubeck smacked an RBI single to give Marshall a 2-0 lead after three.
But the Thunderhawks would have a response, however, and used an error, a walk and an RBI single to get on the board. Grand Rapids wasn’t done there, getting another RBI single before a walk with the bases loaded put the Thunderhawks in front at 3-2.
Neither side would find scoring the next couple of frames, leaving things to be settled in the final inning. Grand Rapids got the seventh started with a one-out walk before back-to-back hit batters loaded the bases. The Thunderhawks would capitalize, as a base hit down the right-field line cleared the bases and pushed their advantage to 6-2. Marshall would have one final at-bat, but Grand Rapids got a 1-2-3 inning to seal the victory.
Neubeck led Marshall with two hits and an RBI while Douglas, Jacobson and Maeyaert each had a hit and Baker had an RBI.
Pollock said their key on offense was their ability to get timely hits early on.
“We came up with some clutch hitting with runners on base,” Pollock said. “Connor had a big hit for us and we hit some balls hard, we just put the ball in play early and good things happened.”
Baker took the loss on the mound, going 3 1/3 innings while allowing three runs on two hits and struck out three. Jack Bly tossed three innings, allowing three runs on two hits and struck out four while Mitchell Bouwman threw the final 2/3 of the seventh, allowing one hit.
Tuesday’s game marked the final one for Marshall’s 10 seniors. They are: Douglas, Baker, Cole Felcyn, AJ Toulouse, Bouwman, Bly, Jacob Hughes, Brock Schultz, Zach Allen and Bensen Kuecker. Pollock said all of them have been phenomenal leaders, especially for the young players, and they’ll be sorely missed.
“These seniors have been awesome,” Pollock said. “They’ve led the way for these young guys that are along on this trip to see what this is all about and what it takes to win and advance. We’re forever thankful for their leadership.”
Going into next season, Pollock said it’ll be challenging to have to replace the majority of their lineup and they’ll need to work hard to get back to the state tournament.
“We’re going to be replacing seven seniors in our lineup, so that’s going to be a big challenge for us,” Pollock said. “We’re going to have to work hard this offseason to get back to this point and hopefully we can take that next step next year and get back here.”
Grand Rapids 6, Marshall 2
Grand Rapids 000 300 3 – 6 5 1
Marshall 002 000 0 – 2 5 5
Hitting: Marshall (Douglas 1-3; Baker RBI; Neubeck 2-3, RBI; Jacobson 1-3; Maeyaert 1-3).
Pitching (IP-R-ER-H-BB-SO): Marshall (Baker 3.1-3-1-2-2-3; Bly 3-3-3-2-3-4; Bouwman 0.2-0-0-1-0-0).