Prep Baseball Report

Division 3 Team Of The Week: 5th Edition - North Muskegon

Bruce Hefflinger
Michigan Senior Writer

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Division 3 Team Of The Week: 5th Edition - North Muskegon

NORTH MUSKEGON - Four shutout victories, highlighted by a 3-0 blanking of Algonac, brings the honor of Prep Baseball Division 3 Team of the Week to North Muskegon.

“Our outlook entering the season was very high,” noted head coach Garret Moyer, whose Norsemen are 22-4 on the season and the No. 1 D-3 team in the state. “We lost five seniors from last year who were all committed to play a college sport so we had a lot of holes to fill, but we felt confident going into the season because of the standards and expectations set for this program. The culture and buy-in from underclassmen has been great. It was really important for everyone to get a taste of a regional game environment last year so that they know what we’re working for.”

Moyer points to senior captains Ben Meyers and Ryan Delora as leaders of a squad that starts three juniors and four sophomores.

“They’ve done a great job helping kids in our program get caught up with what’s expected and have had to put more time in helping teammates as we had a couple of experienced juniors who were expected to be a big part of our plans end up out due to injury and one transferring schools so we had to make a lot of adjustments right when tryouts began.”

There is more that has added to the challenges for North Muskegon.

“We do not have a home field or home practice field, so it’s been a grind,” pointed out Moyer. “Every game we’ve played in this season has been an away game and to travel for practice everyday is a different kind of exhaustion that you see setting in at times. The way we’ve responded to all of the adversity with such a young roster has stood out to me the most.

“We’ve been exposed a couple of times this season against a few quality opponents whose varsity experience stood out, but the boys have stuck together, learned from mistakes and continue to grow from all of it. As a coach I’m just super proud of all of them for buying into that mentality and understanding failure is a part of it and that’s how you get better and prepared for the tournament.”

Logan Slimko did not permit a run in 6.1 innings against Algonac, giving up two hits and three walks with 12 strikeouts against the second-rated Division 3 team in the state.

“Logan settled in and turned into a freak of nature,” Moyer said of the seventh-rated sophomore right-handed pitcher in Michigan. “It took a couple of innings but once Logan started grooving he had his 85-88 mile-per-hour fastball, splitter and slider dominating hitters. It was a clash against a dominant D-3 program and was big for us to come out, compete and get the W. Logan is growing and maturing as a pitcher. It was great to see him step up in the big game and be the guy.”

Opponents are hitting just .129 against Slimko, who is 4-1 with a 2.172 ERA, fanning 56 in 29 innings.

Four other pitchers have been huge on the season in senior Ryan Delora, junior Jaxon Bean, junior Ace Anderson and sophomore Kylan Nielsen. Delora is 5-1 with a 0.672 ERA, Bean 5-1 with a 2.308 ERA, Anderson 3-0 with a 1.567 ERA and Nielsen 4-0 with a 2.507 ERA.

Each has come up big this season. Delora, the staff ace who is committed to Lansing CC, gave up just five hits against Lakeshore Stevensville, Bean fanned 10 in a win over Holland Christian, Anderson gave up two hits and no runs in six innings in a league win over Hart and Nielsen “has been a light in our pitching rotation” according to Moyer, including a win over rival Montague in his first start of the year, allowing two runs on four hits in six innings.

“The off-season weight room training has played a big role in our success,” explained Moyer, whose third-rated team in the state defeated Holton 16-0 and 6-0, and Whitehall 6-0 in addition to Algonac this past week, with a 9-5 loss to D-2 state-ranked Spring Lake on Friday. “We committed to building our team on pitching and defense assuming our offense wouldn’t be as explosive as it was last year losing five seniors who all hit very well in our lineup.

“We have had a handful of stellar pitching performances and that has really been the difference in our season. Ben Meyers, our senior catcher who is committed to Davenport, has played a huge role in our pitching staff. His development from his sophomore year to now mentally and baseball IQ-wise has been tremendous. You don’t have to tell him anything twice. It sticks when you coach him. He does a great job knowing our pitchers strengths and calling games from behind the dish.”

Meyers, the 15th-rated senior catcher in the state, is batting .444 with 30 RBIs and 37 runs scored, while going 23-23 on stolen bases. 

Delora, the 22nd-rated senior third baseman in the state, has a .436 average with 35 RBIs and 25 runs, Nielsen is batting .381 and Slimko .317.

Junior center fielder T J Byard is hitting .350 with 21 runs and 15 steals, junior second baseman Carter Mieler is batting .333 with 34 runs and 14 steals and sophomore outfielder Bryce Colbert is averaging .352 with 27 runs.

“I’ve been surprised with how versatile we are as a team,” noted Moyer. “We have multiple players who can play multiple positions and have really played at a good level when moving players around. We don’t just run basic stuff, there’s a lot of bunt defenses/pickoffs we run that you need to know at each position, so for us to have multiple guys knowing multiple spots hasn’t been ideal and wasn’t the plan. It hasn’t been perfect but we’ve gotten a lot better throughout the year.

“The key to continuing success this season is to keep focusing on the task at hand and not look too far out front,” continued Moyer, whose squad needs a win over Shelby tonight to claim a conference title. Games ahead this week are with Oakridge and Orchard View (DH) before playing in the Hamilton Invite on Saturday. “It’s baseball and nothing is guaranteed so we just want to do our best at being consistent with our everyday approach and intent. Keep it simple stupid, have fun, and not listen to the noise outside of our circle, good or bad. Continue to learn, grow and try to reach our potential as a team.”

It has been an enjoyable season thus far for Moyer and the Norsemen.

“We’re extremely proud of our baseball community sticking together with all of the adversity our program has had to overcome,” Moyer concluded. “A lot of our success is due to the extension of our team including players’ families, parents and alumni with all of their support, helping with transportation, communication, food etc. It’s a blessing to be a part of a baseball community who trusts what the coaching staff is doing and helping any way they can to help us have success this season.”

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