Graders earn first series win of season

By Chad Clinger -

Muskegon 6, Galion 4

Muskegon, MICHIGAN — Back on Friday, June 14, the Galion Graders headed up north to open a three-game series against the hosting Muskegon Clippers at Marsh Field.

Game one of the set would go to the hosts as Muskegon posted a 6-4 victory over their guests.

The Clippers got on the board first in the bottom of the opening inning and would hold the Graders hitless until the top of the fifth inning. In that fifth, Galion would plate two of their four runs thanks to singles off of the bats of Bryce Ray and JP Bitzenhofer. Taking a 2-1 advantage into the sixth, the visitors would tack on two additional runs via three singles to extend their lead to 4-1. However, the Graders would see just one more hit, a lead-off double from Bitzenhofer in the seventh, while the Clippers posted a run in the seventh and four more in the bottom of the eighth to earn the two-run victory.

For the contest, Muskegon tallied seven hits to Galion’s six while leaving nine on the bases to the Graders eight. The Clippers committed three errors in the field while Galion finished the game with zero miscues.-1.

The visitors used five pitchers throughout the nine frames with Jarrett Miller getting the nod as the starter. Miller worked six innings, giving up just three hits and an earned run while walking three and striking out seven. Louis Lipthratt allowed a hit, an earned run and walked three but failed to record an out and was relieved by Christopher Punka. Punka was handed the loss for the game, tossing 1⅓ frames, giving up just two hits but three earned runs while walking a batter. Cody Gabriel and James Kontur pitched a third of an inning each with Gabrieal allowing a hit and an earned run.

At the dish, Bitzenhofer recorded the only multi-hit game, notching a single and a double while driving in one of the four Galion runs. As a team, the Graders went 6/35 at the plate, scoring the four runs on three runs batted in with three batters earning walks and eight striking out. Galion also stole two bases in game one of the series.

Other offense for the visitors provided by: Steven D’Eusanio- 1B, R; Ray- 1B, 2R; DeVonte Washington- 1B, R, SB and Austin Harper- 1B, 2RBI, SB.

Galion 5, Muskegon 2

In game two of the series, the Graders would strike first and use a late-inning rally to upend their hosts by a final tally of 5-2.

Sean McLaughlin got the top of the second going for Galion with a two-out single and would eventually score thanks to an RBI double from Harper. Entering the fourth with a 1-0 lead, the Graders would get a lead-off single from D’Eusanio who would be plated on a McLaughlin double to stretch the lead to 2-0.

Muskegon would finally get on the scoreboard with just one run in the bottom of the sixth to cut the Galion lead in half. McLaughlin stepped in with one out in the top of the eighth and ripped his second double of the game and would be followed by Harper’s second double that pushed the score to 3-1. Takahiro Yamada reached on a single and both Harper and Yamada would later score on a Bitzenhofer two-out, two-run single to send the game into the bottom of the eighth with Galion up; 5-1.

The Clippers would fail to score in the eighth and would proceed to keep Galion off of the board in the top of the ninth before tallying their second and final run in the bottom of the inning.

Wyatt Smith was the starter for the Graders and earned the victory working six innings and giving up just two hits and an unearned run while walking five and fanning four. Chase Jessee threw an inning of relief and picked up a “K” as did Gavin Lewis. Garrett Kuns finished up the contest for the visitors, working an inning and giving up two hits and an earned run.

Offensive statistics in game two of the series were: Team- 9/37, 5R, 5RBI, 4BB, 10K, 2SB; McLaughlin- 2-2B, 1B, 2R, RBI; Harper- 2-2B, R, 2RBI; Yamada- 1B, R, 2SB; Bitzenhofer- 1B, 2RBI; Andrew Sharp- 1B and D’Eusanio- 1B, R.

Galion 7, Muskegon 5

On Sunday afternoon, the Graders and the Clippers met again to conclude the three-game stint in Michigan with Galion earning their first series win of the season with a 7-5 victory. With the win, the Graders improved to 3-7 on the season.

With two outs in the top of the first, D’Eusanio singled and was followed by a double from Washington. Ray would score D’Eusanio for the first run of the contest with an RBI single. The game would remain at 1-0 heading into the top of the third.

In that third, Ryan Strittmather would lead-off the frame with a single and proceed to steal second base before being driven in on a Thomas Staab single. Staab would later score on a 6-3 putout by D’Eusanio to give Galion the 3-0 advantage. Washington singled, as did Ray and McLaughlin with the McLaughlin single scoring Washington to put the Graders in control at 4-0.

The Clippers posted a run in the bottom half of the third to send Galion to bat in the fourth with the three-run lead; 4-1. The Graders would extend that lead, starting with Yamada reaching on a lead-off, hit by pitch. Strittmather would then single, as would Staab before D’Eusanio delivered two runs across with a single, putting Galion up; 6-1.

Both offenses went quietly in the fifth as Galion also went scoreless in the top of the sixth before Muskegon scored a run in the home half. Leading 6-2, the Graders blanked the top of the seventh while allowing two Clippers runs in the bottom of the inning and watched their lead dwindle to 6-4.

However, Galion would get a much needed insurance run in the top of the eighth while holding their hosts to just one more run over the next two innings to earn the victory.

Trey Bame took the mound as the starter and earned the win, going 5⅔ innings, giving up six hits and two earned runs while walking one and fanning four. Parker Brown went ⅔ of an inning in relief, surrendering a hit, two earned runs and allowing a walk. Punka also went ⅔, striking out a batter and giving up a hit. Jessee threw an inning of relief work, walking one and striking out one before Kuns earned the save in the ninth, allowing two hits, an earned run and picking up a strikeout.

Staab, D’Eusanio, Washington, Ray and Strittmather all earned multi-hit games for the Graders in the series clincher.

Offensive numbers for Galion on Sunday were: Team- 12/38, 7R, 7RBI, 2BB, 6K, 2SB; Staab- 2-1B, R, RBI, SB; D’Eusanio- 2-1B, R, 3RBI; Washington- 1B, 2B, R; Ray- 2-1B, RBI; Strittmather- 3-1B, 2R, RBI, SB; McLaughlin- 1B, RBI; Harper- R and Yamada- R.

The Graders will be on the road on Tuesday and Wednesday at McBride Stadium in Richmond, Indiana to face the hosting Jazz before returning home for a pair of games against the Xenia Scouts on Thursday and Friday. On Saturday and Sunday, Galion is set to head to Hamilton, Ohio for a series with the hosting Hamilton Joes.

By Chad Clinger

Follow Chad on Twitter @GalionSportsGuy

Reach Chad at 419-468-1117 x2048

Follow Chad on Twitter @GalionSportsGuy

Reach Chad at 419-468-1117 x2048