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Montague baseball wins 14 inning thriller to clinch share of conference title

Wildcats beat North Muskegon after 4 hours, 23 minutes
Montague beats North Muskegon in 14 innings
Posted at 12:11 AM, May 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-30 00:11:29-04

MUSKEGON, Mich. — 14 innings and four hours and 23 minutes of game time.

16 combined runs, 26 combined hits.

It's safe to say Montague and North Muskegon battled in game one of Saturday's doubleheader, with the winner clinch at least a share of the West Michigan Conference championship.

The game started at 5:30 PM at the historic Marsh Field in Muskegon and Montague would jump out to a quick 4-0 lead after two innings of play.

Montague 10, North Muskegon 6 in 14 innings

The Norse offense would be silence until the bottom of the fifth inning when North Muskegon struck for three runs.

In the bottom of the seventh, trailing 7-6 with two outs and a runner on third base, the Norse would knot the game on a passed ball resulting in extra innings.

And both offenses would stall behind outstanding pitching performances in those extra innings.

It took seven extra frames to have a team breakout and it was the Wildcats, who plated four runs in the top of the fourteenth inning to take a 10-6 lead.

North Muskegon applied pressure in the bottom half of the inning, but Hayden McDonald would come in for the final out and save.

The players couldn't comprehend what had just happened.

"It's crazy man, we came in here knowing it'd be a battle but nobody thought it'd be a 14 inning game," laughed junior catcher Tugg Nichols.

Nichols admitted he was sore after catching for 14 innings.

"I can go another game, that's what coach would want me to say but yes, I'm sore because that was a very chaotic game."

Both coaches were preaching just one run in extra innings but it took much longer than anticipated.

"It took us long enough," chuckled junior pitcher and infielder Colton Blankstrom, "but we finally got the hits to put four runs up and then we had our big boy come in and close it for us."

Head coach Kevin Buchberger says he's been around baseball for 48 years but it's the longest game he's ever been a part of.

"I'm elated for the kids, it's all about the kids, they played a heck of a game," he said after the game, "we haven't played defense like that all year, We made some tremendous plays in the game to score some runs and keep them from scoring, my hats off to my guys, they're awesome."

It's the Wildcats first share of the conference title since 2015.

However, the two teams would square off yet again after 10:00 PM in game two of the doubleheader which saw the Norse cruise to a 12-3 victory in five innings to share the WMC crown.