Game Slips Away (Literally) For Cubs In Marquette
Click the thumbnails above to see photos taken by Shiela Olsen and to hear interviews with Trent Lawson and Jake Peterson.
MARQUETTE---The Escanaba Cubs had the lead all night long Wednesday night, but had the game literally slip away when rain started pouring down in the bottom of seventh inning as the Marquette Blues took advantage for a 5-4 win at Haley Field.
Escanaba was one out away from a 4-3 victory, but pitcher Trent Lawson threw a wild pitch with a man on third base to tie the game.
And then third baseman Jack McEvers fielded a bouncer up the line, but threw the slippery baseball past first base, scoring the Blues' winning run.
"At the end, it was really hard to pitch," Lawson said. "Every ball I was throwing was just drenched. I mean, I tried to throw strikes. But at the end, it just got tough."
It was ironic that the game ended on an error, as the Cubs played outstanding defense all night long, turning three double plays and cutting down anther runner at third base.
Cubs shortstop Hunter Lancour had a remarkable game on defense, highighted by an outstandong 6-3 double play in the bottom of the sixth inning, keeping the Cubs in front at the time, 4-3. He got the weak chopper off the bat of Parker Maki, raced over to second base for the tag, then whipped the ball to first base to nab Maki.
Then the next play, Kyle Frusti hit one behind the mound between first and second. Lancour raced over from shortstop, got the ball, and gunned Frusti out at first base to end that inning.
Escanaba had the 3-0 lead in the first inning thanks to a two-run single to right field by Riley Lamb, and Lancour's first RBI single of the night.
Marquette hit the ball well all night but had runners thrown out at third base in all three of the first three innings. The Blues finally scored in the third inning when Hogan Nemetz got his second straight double (he was thrown out the first time trying to stretch it into a triple). He scored on a double by Jake Peterson, who led the Blues with three hits at the plate.
"I felt great," Peterson said. "I was getting the barrel on the ball and, you know, just doing what I do. Just trying for a smooth swing, put the ball in play, and get the runs home."
Marquette tied the gvame on an RBI double in the fourth inning from Kyle Frusti, but Lawson got a pop up and a ground out to end that inning tied.
Escanaba regained the lead in the fifth inning when Tyler Lawson hit a pop fly that landed in center field between three fielders. With two out, Lancour came through with another opposite field RBI single to give the Cubs a 4-3 lead.
Lancour's defense in the bottom of the sixth kept it that way, but with the rain pouring down in the bottom of the seventh, things unraveled for Lawson and the Cubs.
Lawson struck out Justin Wenk for the first out, but Pete VandenAvond smacked a single to left field with two strikes on him. Nemetz flew out to left field for the second out, but with the rain intensifying, Lawson gave up a hot shot single up the middle to Peterson, and then he walked Erik Johnson to load the bases.
Before the walk, one of Lawson's pitches slipped out of his hand and it went back to the fence, tying the game at 4-4 as VandenAvond scored. Then with two strikes on Brock Taylor, Taylor hit a bouncer toward McEvers at thrid. He fielded it cleanly but threw it past Riley Lamb at first. That's how the game ended in Marquette's 14th victory of the season (14-6).
"We're starting to play some good baseball again," Peterson said. "We went through a stretch where we weren't playing our best ball, but we're starting to play good ball at the right time and getting hot for the state tournament."
The Blues will host Menominee in a make-up game Thursday night at 6:30, and then will travel to Sault Ste. Marie for a doubeheader against the Wood Ducks on Saturday.
For Escanaba (5-8) it was another tough loss in which they did almost everything right, only to lose it at the end.
"They were hitting me hard,, everywhere," Lawson said. "I was throwing strikes (before the rain) but they were just hitting me hard. I was lucky enough to get a few flyouts, but it was double after double for them, I felt like. And some of the plays he (Hunter Lancour) made were just unbelievable."
Escanaba travels to Iron Mountain Thursday night to face the Greens, and then will head to Wisconsin to take on a talented Kimberly team at Sunset Park.