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Jarrett Hovey keeps Mount Pleasant tied atop SVL standings with extra-inning game-winning suicide squeeze bunt WITH GALLERY

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When a game is on the line, some coaches are afraid to take chances and instead go by the book hoping for the best.

Mount Pleasant varsity baseball coach Luke Epple isn't one of your run-of-the-mill skippers.

Epple called on junior Jarrett Hovey to lay down a suicide squeeze bunt Thursday evening in the bottom of the eighth inning with the back end of a home doubleheader against Flint Powers deadlocked at 2-2.

Hovey executed the bunt perfectly as pinch runner Zach Colores raced home as the baseball left the pitcher's hand, easily scoring the game-winning run to keep the Oilers tied with Midland atop the Saginaw Valley League standings.

Mount Pleasant won the opener by a 6-2 final before rallying for two runs in the bottom of the eighth in the nightcap after the Chargers scored one run in the top half.

It was certainly not a strange call for Epple to make with the game on the line as time and time again he has shown belief in his players to lay down a bunt in crunch time. More often than not, Epple is rewarded for his small ball strategy in the game's latter innings.

“We practice bunting a lot and for good reason as tonight showed,” Epple said. “It's not the first big one Jarrett has put down for us. He did a great job of putting it down. It keeps us right there with a shot at the SVL title, so these were two big wins for us.”

Mount Pleasant improves to 26-7 overall and 16-3 in SVL play. It will resume a game at Midland Dow Tuesday with the Oilers trailing 6-1 in the fourth inning.

Midland, ranked seventh in Division 1, is even with Mount Pleasant in the loss column at 15-3 and has a doubleheader versus Davison scheduled for Friday.

As for Thursday's thriller finish, it was not the first time Hovey has been called on to lay down a suicide squeeze bunt. Earlier in the season, he broke a tie with a bunt which scored Obie Ricumstrict in the top of the seventh at Saginaw Heritage to send the Oilers to a win.

Hovey echoed Epple's comments about working on bunting frequently for circumstances such as this.

“We're always practicing bunting because we bunt a lot in games,” Hovey said right before he was doused from behind with a bucket of water by Ricumstrict. “I was pretty nervous when he told me the squeeze was on. It was an outside pitch and tough to get down, but I managed. As soon as I put it in play, I knew the game was over.”

The Oilers have not won a Saginaw Valley League title in baseball since 2011, something Hovey would love to see change this year.

“It means a lot,” Hovey said. “Especially for our seniors, but also for the whole team. Right now we're tied with Midland and we'd love to win the Valley for our seniors.”

The second game was scoreless until the top of the fifth inning when Flint Powers (16-13-2) scored a run on a two-out RBI single. Mount Pleasant evened the score in the bottom of the frame as a run crossed on a wild pitch.

It would remain a 1-1 game until the top of the eighth when the Chargers took the lead with another two-out run-scoring single.

But in the bottom of the eighth, Ricumstrict led off with a sharp single and three batters later a one-out RBI line drive single to left field by Cam Mitchell brought in the tying run. More importantly, the throw from the outfield was not cut off and allowed both runners to advance.

Hovey proceeded to step to the dish and lay one down in true Oilers fashion to end the game before the looming darkness hit.

Ricumstrict earned the win in game two as he threw the final 2 2/3 innings, following 5/13 innings of one-run ball by Austin Wetherbee. Noah Ingram and Logan Buczkowski each doubled for Mount Pleasant, while Tommy Arends singled and scored on the wild pitch. Wetherbee singled in the bottom of the eighth, which turned out to be the winning run which was scored by Colores as a pinch runner.

In game one, Colores (5-1) allowed two runs (one earned) on eight hits with nine strikeouts and two walks over six innings. Ricumstrict threw the final inning in relief.

Mitchell paced Mount Pleasant with two hits and three RBIs. Quinn Humphrey chipped in with a single, a double and a walk. Cade Wischmeyer scored two runs as a pinch runner. Ricumstrict contributed an RBI single and a walk, while Wetherbee added an RBI walk.

After falling behind 2-0, the Oilers scored one in the third plus two in the fourth and three in the sixth to take control of the game.

“We beat a very good team in Flint Powers twice today and you have to be happy about that,” Epple added. “We have three big games this weekend (at Hudsonville) before we can worry about Dow, but we know there's plenty of time to make something happen Tuesday. We have four innings to outscore them by six.”

Last Updated: 5/25/2017 10:21:24 PM EST