Photos by Bethany McCullough and Scott DeCamp | CatchMark
MUSKEGON – Warren Zweigle had never been shut out in both ends of a doubleheader in his 28 years as Whitehall’s baseball coach until Ravenna blanked the Vikings twice on April 26.
They had no trouble scoring runs Saturday in the Greater Muskegon Athletic Association Tier 2 tournament. In the process, they got a little revenge on the Bulldogs.
Whitehall defeated Ravenna in the GMAA Tier 2 finals Saturday night at Marsh Field, 9-1, to cap a day in which the Vikings totaled 58 runs in three games. It’s the Vikings’ first GMAA title since they won Tier 1 in 2017.
The offensive eruption began in the first game, a 38-1, three-inning victory over Muskegon when Whitehall scored 26 runs in the second inning alone. According to a Vikings coach, umpires offered to stop the game in the second inning, but the Big Reds declined.
Whitehall kept it rolling in the second game, an 11-3 victory over Western Michigan Christian.
“It was a really good day for us. We were good in the field and we hit it well today. I think our bats came alive today. I think we scored 50-something runs today. It was a good day,” said Whitehall sophomore Ryne Christensen, who had two hits, scored three runs and drove in two against Ravenna, while also earning the pitching win.
Whitehall (9-11) extends its winning streak to five games entering Tuesday’s West Michigan Conference doubleheader at rival Montague.
Prior to Whitehall’s current streak, the Vikings were blanked five times in eight games. That stretch began with 1-0 and 9-0 losses at Ravenna.
Whitehall turned the tables on Ravenna (13-8) on Saturday, keeping the Bulldogs off the board for five innings and building a 9-0 lead in the process.
“They kind of felt like they wanted to play Ravenna again, they felt like they were the better team the first time they played and they didn’t have anything to show for it,” Zweigle said. “They were determined to come in here and get to work and they did it. Got on top early and fought off some jams and got through it.”
Christensen suffered the tough 1-0 loss to Ravenna in the conference doubleheader. He admittedly didn’t have his best stuff Saturday, but the right-hander kept the Bulldogs at bay.
Christensen allowed just one hit over his five innings of work with four strikeouts and two walks.
Landon Howe delivered a two-run double for Whitehall, while Brendan Schmehil had a two-run single. Kyle Stratton finished with a pair of hits, while Schmehil and Isaac VanAmberg scored two runs each.
Collin Poley’s infield single scored Hunter Hogan in the sixth inning for Ravenna, which mustered only three hits. Brandon McFarren took the loss for the Bulldogs, as he allowed five runs (four earned) on five hits with three strikeouts and five walks in 2 2/3 innings.
“When you’ve played two games and you’re rolling and feeling pretty good and then you sit down for 2 ½ hours and wait, and then you have to try and get that same hype back and that same feeling, it’s not easy to do,” said Ravenna coach Paul Herremans, whose team defeated Orchard View (11-2) and Muskegon Catholic Central (7-1) earlier in the day.
“I mean, really, they’re just high school kids. And a lot of them haven’t ever been through that experience. We as coaches need to develop that and work with that,” added Herremans, whose team last year won the GMAA Tier 3 title.
In the win over Muskegon, Christensen went 3-for-3 with two doubles, five RBIs and four runs. Stratton was 4-for-5 with two doubles, three RBIs and six runs. Sam Cole went 3-for-3 with four RBIs and five runs. Jack McDowell picked up the pitching win.
Against Western Michigan Christian, Howe was 3-for-4 with five RBIs. Noah Meinert went 4-for-4 with a double and three RBIs. Stratton had three hits and scored two runs. VanAmberg earned the pitching win.
“I feel great. We’re coming off a tough week last week. We got shut out five times in the same week – five times we got shut out,” Zweigle said. “We were getting a little frustrated, kids were starting to doubt themselves and I have to give them a lot of credit.
“They put in some serious hours in the cage and they went to work and they were determined to get better. They get to reap the rewards of their hard work and I’m so proud of how hard they’ve worked and how far they’ve come.”
Zweigle called Saturday the “perfect scenario” where things fell into place for the Vikings.
Making it even better, in Christensen’s opinion, was capping the day off with a title by winning a game at historic Marsh Field under the lights.
“It’s cool to be able to see all your family in the stands and just (all of) your teammates, it kind of feels like they’re on top of you almost in the dugout,” Christensen said. “It’s just different out here, under the lights and everything.”
MONA SHORES TOPS R-P FOR TIER 1 TITLE
Mona Shores captured the GMAA Tier 1 championship with a 13-2 victory over Reeths-Puffer in a game that proceeded the Whitehall-Ravenna contest.
The Sailors broke a 2-2 tie in the fifth inning on Isaac Habetler’s bunt single, which resulted in a Rockets error that scored two runs. The floodgates opened after that.
Habetler finished 3-for-3 and scored three runs to lead Mona Shores (19-3). Mark Konecny singled, doubled, walked twice and drove in four runs for the Sailors, while Aaron Piasecki had two hits.
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