WALK-OFF MAGIC: Lawson Hit Lifts Eskymos, 2-1
Click the thumbnails to see photos and videos, and to hear post-game comments from Trent Lawson, Lenny Peacock, Norway Manager Tony Adams, and Escanaba Manager Scott Hanson.
ESCANABA---Trent Lawson's RBI single broke a 1-1 tie in the eighth inning and lifted the Escanaba Eskymos to a 2-1 win over the Norway Knights in a well-played baseball game under the lights Thursday night in Escanaba.
It was a match-up between two teams with a combined record of 42-9, and both teams left the field happy with the experience headed into the post-season.
"I told our kids that I would play this game three times a week, and if we went into the (district) tournament 0-18, we'd be in great shape," Norway Manager Tony Adams said. "This is how you get better. The 15-0, three-inning games, yeah, the kids feel good, but it doesn't make you better as a team. I thought we showed a pretty good product today."
Indeed, both teams did. It was definitely a tournament atmosphere as Escanaba's Lenny Peacock and Norway's Isaac Lorenzoni were locked in a pitcher's duel that the regulation seven innings could not decide. Lorenzoni threw a no-hitter for four innings, and ended with a no-decision, giving way to Alex Ortman after six innings of work.
On the Escanaba side, Peacock threw seven innings, giving up eight hits but not budging in key situations. He struck out twelve Knights batters, also getting a no-decision.
"That was the most fun I've had playing baseball in my life right there," Peacock said. "All the fans that came out tonight, that was a great win."
"That's the best game of the year," Escanaba Manager Scott Hanson said after his team won its 13th straight game. "If we had charged for admission, I'd say that everyone got their money's worth. What a baseball game. It's a shame that anybody had to lose that, because both teams played super. What a tune-up heading into districts."
It was back-and-forth all night long as both teams made defensive play after defensive play, and the starting pitchers, both throwing 80-mile-per-hour-plus fastballs, kept the game entertaining all night long.
Norway had the advantage most of the night with baserunners in every inning against the freshman Peacock, but he showed the maturity that will be counted on if the Eskymos are going to make a deep playoff push this season.
The game was scoreless heading into the sixth inning, thanks in part to the play of Escanaba shortstop Ben Johnson, who made a leaping catch of a shot that he turned into a 6-3 double play. Johnson also made two plays at shortstop with men on base to get force plays at third base, and he took one off the chest and made the throw to first base for another big out.
It looked like Escanaba might grab the lead in the bottom of the fifth inning when Matt Kaven broke up Lorenzoni's no-hitter with a solid base hit. Johnson put down a sacrifice bunt to move him to second, and freshman Brian Boutilier was brought in as a pinch runner.
Nick Chiu followed with a base hit just barely into right field, and Hanson sent Boutilier from third base. But Norway right fielder Hayden Amundson threw a perfect ball to his brother Lanson at the plate, and he tagged out Boutilier to keep the game scoreless.
In the top of the sixth inning, the Knights grabbed the lead when Lorenzoni hit a pop fly to right field to bring home Cameron Varda with the first run of the game.
Escanaba got even in the bottom of the sixth when Chase Cloutier was hit by a pitch, stole second, went to third on a passed ball, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Eli Gardner.
Peacock was feeling it on the mound for the Eskymos in the top of the seventh, as he struck out all three batters he faced to send the game into a walk-off situation. And it looked like the Eskymos might get that when leadoff batter Bon LaChance launched a long fly ball to left field that came close to clearing the fence. But, no dice. It hit the bottom of the fence and landed on the warning track, and LaChance had to settle for a double.
Ortman was able to strike out Kabem for the first out, but Johnson put down a perfect bunt single up the third base line, his second bunt of the game. But Ortman battled back to strike out Chiu and Kaiden Brown popped up, so the game went to extra innings.
In the top of the eighth, Johnson relieved Peacock, who had reached his pitch count of 105 pitches (actually threw 108). Johnson walked Ortman to lead off the inning, but was able to catch the runner trying to take second base for a huge out. Johnson then got a fly out and struck out Carson Chartier on a close pitch to end the inning.
In the bottom of the inning, freshman Nolan Bink led off with a walk. Chase Cloutier bunted him to second base, as the Eskymos for a second straight night were superb in executing "small ball". Gardner was walked to put two men on base, setting up a senior for a walk-off chance.
Lawson, who won the school's prestigious Abrahamson Award in Wednesday night's scholarship banquet, stepped up to the plate and delivered his biggest-ever Eskymo hit. He rifled a solid base hit to left field, setting off a wild celebration to end a game that will be remembered for a long time in both Escanaba and Norway.
"I was just trying to put the ball in play," Lawson said. "I knew if I would hit a deep fly ball, that would work. Or, really, a ground ball to the right side. Anything, really. But I got a good pitch and hit a line drive. My first two at-bats were a little shaky because I flound myself down in the count and had to protect. The third and fourth at-bat, I felt really good up there."
REDMEN VS MAROONS---The Marquette Redmen swept two from Menominee Maroons, 9-7 and 11-1. The first game saw the teams combine for eleven errors. Logan Peterson earned the pitching win, allowing five runs, with none of them earned.
FLIVVERS VS GREMLINS---Kingsford beat Houghton, 13-0, in game one of a doubleheader as Gavin Trevillian threw a one-hitter. Henry McRoberts and Pablo Finley both had three hits. Houghton got revenge in the second game, 12-2, as Kingsford made five errors. Gaborik Carlson threw all five innings, allowing only two hits to earn the win for the Gremlins.
EMERALDS VS COUARS---Manistique split a doubleheader with Superior Central. The Cougars won the opener, 6-4, as Blake Walther had a two-run triple to break a 3-3 tie as part of a five-run fifth inning. Bryce Blixt ad three hits in a losing effort. Manistique rolled in the second game, 14-1, with Parker Graphos getting two doubles and four runs batted in.