Hats Off to the Cats... Muskegon stars take 2 from Grand Rapids Elite Black

Muskegon Chronicle
By Scott Brandenburg
Wednesday July 21, 2009

Chris Sabo and Ian Engle are two ball players who aren't too happy the travel baseball season is almost over.

They're not the only ones on the Muskegon ChannelCats 18-under team to feel that way.

Sabo, Engle and company are starting to heat up, but only three games remain on their 2009 schedule after they swept a doubleheader from the Grand Rapids Elite Black on Monday.

 Engle turned in two all-around good games and Sabo picked up the win in both of Muskegon's 14-4 and 11-9 wins at Mona Shores High School.

"It's great to pull out a couple of victories and finally get things going," said Engle, a Reeths-Puffer grad who plays at Jackson Community College. "It's huge to be making plays and getting the bats going at the same time."

The ChannelCats improved to 12-13-1 with a doubleheader today and a single game Thursday remaining on the schedule.

Engle led the offensive explosion for Muskegon, going 4-for-6 with two triples, four runs scored and four RBIs on the day.

The former Rocket has been waiting most of the summer to break out. So have many of his teammates.

"We haven't hit the ball like this all year," said Muskegon coach Brandon Bard. "We had a great tournament this weekend and followed it up with our best offensive showing all season."

Jamie Potts and Ben Peters both hit 2-for-3 in the opener, which ended in five innings. Peters collected three RBIs and Potts added two in the blowout win.

Jared Conkle, Jordan Seeger, Ryan Somerville and Andy Deal all banged out two hits in the second game, which needed eight innings to be completed.

With the sun all but set, Potts and Conkle led off the top of the eighth with singles and, after a pair of stolen bases, scored on sacrifice flies by Deal and Robin Wiggins.

Those runs would not have been possible without key defensive plays in the bottom of the sixth inning, when Elite Black got runners to second and third with nobody out.

ChannelCats' third baseman Jordan Seeger cut down a runner at the plate for the first out, Conkle launched a rocket from left field to keep the second runner from even attempting to score and Seeger made a nice pick on a grounder to end the inning.

"Most of the season we haven't been able to make the plays to keep the other teams from scoring," said Bard, who said the game would have been called due to darkness had Elite scored in the sixth. "Other teams have been doing it to us, so it's nice to turn it around and make the plays to get the win."

The ChannelCats blew a 6-2 lead through 1 1/2 innings, falling behind 8-6.


Sabo, who pitched all five innings for the win in Game 1, came in to get the final out of the second inning and allowed just one run through the next six innings to allow his team to come back.

The Spring Lake grad hadn't pitched much all summer due to shoulder soreness, but pitched 11 1/3 innings on Monday.

"I feel like I could pitch 11 more," said Sabo. "I'm not sure why it was so sore earlier this summer, but it feels really good now. Our starter was having some control issues and I told (Bard) I felt good if he needed me."


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