Flivvers Win Two Tight Games; Eskymos Drop Two

Click the thumbnails to see photos and videos, and to hear post-game comments from Escanaba Manager Scott Hanson, and Kingsford's Garrett Brown and Gavin Trevillian.

The Escanaba High School baseball team lost two more tight games on Saturday, falling to the Kingsford Flivvers, 3-2, and to the Sault Ste. Marie Blue Devils, 4-0, in a rain-shortened game at Al Ness Field.


The losses dropped the Eskymo record to 10-10 on the season, and they've been shut out in three of their last five losses.


But veteran manager Scott Hanson is not hitting the panic button. Instead, he is challenging his team to improve on the little things that they have not been doing during this streak in which they've lost five of six games.


“The reality is that we haven't been 10-10 in a long time,” Hanson said. “You can make the excuse all you want that I toughened up the schedule. We've lost a lot of close games. And here's the deal. In these one-run games, if you don't do the little things right, you're going to lose those games. You've got to put it all together, is essentially what it comes down to. We're beating ourselves with errors.”


“We barreled up some nice balls, but right at people,” Hanson continued. “When is that going to break for us? When will some of those drop? We've got to get some balls to fall. But we've got to focus on the little things. I hope it flips, at some point, before districts. Because we've got about two weeks of baseball left.”


Saturday was a playoff preview that in many ways, really wasn't.


The Eskymos, Flivvers, and Blue Devils met in a round-robin event that saw Kingsford pull out a couple of 3-2 wins over both the Eskymos and Blue Devils. What was missing was the chance to watch Kingsford pitching ace Gavin Trevillian, Escanaba pitching ace Lenny Peacock, and Sault pitching ace Garrett Gorsuch. That will have to wait until June 1st, when the teams all play in the district tournament in Cheboygan.


In Saturday's first game, Ben Johnson got the ball for the Eskymos, and he threw all six innings, allowing five hits. He struck out seven batters, but also walked six, and gave up single runs in each of the first three innings.


Nolan Hendrickson's RBI single in the first inning gave Kingsford the lead, Garrett Brown had an RBI single in the second, and Pablo Fenley smacked a leadoff home run in the third inning to make it a 3-0 game.


The Eskymos closed to within 3-2 in the fourth inning when freshman catcher Mikaiden Hughes smoked a two-run double off the fence in left field.


But in the fifth inning, the Eskymos squandered a scoring chance when Nick Chiu beat out a bunt single and Chase Cloutier cracked a double to the warning track.


On the next play, Eli Gardner hit a ground ball to short for the first out, and when the throw went to first base, Chiu broke from third to the plate. He was easily thrown out, with catcher Jack Kriegl applying the tag. It was one of several base-running mistakes that proved costly for the Eskymos.


For Kingsford, Brown may be, by far, the shortest guy on the field, but he made a tall impact on that game. He threw 3 1/3 innings, allowing four hits, striking out three and walking just one, on just 44 pitches. Brown gave way to Joey Weber on the mound, and Weber threw the final 2 2/3 innings to earn the save.


“I've been kind of working my slider from a lower arm angle,” Brown said. “Just spinning a curve ball, and kind of just mixing up timing, and it's been working out for me lately.”


Brown also did his job at the plate, joking, as always, about being the shortest guy on the field.

“I just try to go up there and put barrel on the ball,” Brown said. “I don't have the best power, obviously, but, hey, I can slap the ball around and get some base hits. It found a hole for me, so that was good! Yep, gotta make the most with what you've got, so that's kind of my thing. Not everyone can throw 90 (miles per hour) either, but, hey, it worked out for me.”


Brown also started the second game on the mound for Kingsford, against Sault Ste. Marie, and he did well again. He threw five innings, allowed two runs on three base hits, and ended up with a no-decision. That game went to extra innings before Jonah Doenier got the win on the mound when Kreigl's pop fly single brought in the game-winning run on a 3-2 walk-off.


“The plan, actually, was for me to go the distance (against Escanaba),” Brown said. “But some things happened in the field, we made some crucial errors, and we are on a pitch count, so we just thought it would be time to switch up speeds and have me pitch again (against Sault Ste. Marie). It ended up working out for us.”

Trevillian, meanwhile, had to make due with getting three walks at the plate against the Eskymos, saving his pitching possibility for the districts, either against Cheboygan, or maybe, against the Eskymos.


“I've been pitching a lot of the other conference games, and obviously, we might see Esky in the districts, so we're kind of playing it smart with that,” Trevillian said. “I had that balk call (to lose an extra-inning district game against the Soo in 2022), and then a one-run loss last year (to Escanaba when he pitched a no-hitter), so, I mean, it's always a battle against Esky. We expect it again this year.”


Trevillian says that the rest of the pitching staff did just fine.


“The guys pitched great, very little walks, made some plays in the field, which we've been kind of struggling with lately,” Trevillian said. “Today, we cleaned it up. Now that the weather is warming up, my arm is starting to feel a little better, and I'm starting to throw a little harder. So, obviously, I've just been preparing for the districts. That's when it really matters. I'm ready.”


Sault Ste. Marie got good pitching efforts from Ethan Chambers and Ryan TenEyck in Saturday's games. Chambers allowed just six hits, but gave up pop fly RBI singles to Jacob Deuter to tie the game, and Kriegl to win it. Then against Escanaba, TenEyck allowed hits to Hughes, Johnson, and Cloutier, but otherwise slammed the door against the Eskymo offense in five innings of work.


The Esky-Soo game was delayed twice by thunderstorms, and when a third one rolled through as the Eskymos prepared to bat in the bottom of the sixth inning, the Eskymos conceded. The teams raced through the handshake line as the rain poured down, sending the Blue Devils on their three-hour journey home.


Bon LaChance threw the first four innings for Escanaba, and while he struck out seven batters, he also walked two, threw a pair of wild pitches. None of the runs against him were earned, although he himself made an error on an easy throw to first base that ultimately cost him a run. Escanaba made four errors in that game, with Cannon Arnt also making two errors and Cloutier making one.


“Not that any one error kills you,” Hanson said. “But then, you compound it, and you get a couple in one inning. That's where you get a two-run inning. And an error is more than just that. It destroys your pitchers. But today, one of the errors, I went to him and said, 'you're a pitcher. You had a routine ball. I said, what does that do to you as a pitcher? You throw a pitch that is a routine out, you think is super-easy, and all of a sudden that play isn't made.' One, that's an extra out that you have to get. And two, in today's world, that adds to your pitch count.”


Sault Ste. Marie improved to 13-8 on the season, after the Blue Devils also pulled off an impressive sweep on Friday over Charlevoix, 3-0 and 5-3. Sault High is now 6-1 in its last seven games.


It's also been a busy time for Kingsford, as the Flivvers improved to 13-9 after their two wins on Saturday. They lost a tough 9-8 decision to Norway on Friday and split a doubleheader with Negaunee on Thursday.


As for the Eskymos, it's back to the drawing board with a busy week ahead. Escanaba will host the Manistique Emeralds Monday night, travel to Kingsford on Tuesday, visit powerhouse Green Bay Preble on Wednesday, and then head downstate for tough games Saturday against Muskegon Mona Shores.


“We can only change what we've got going forward,” Hanson said. “Hopefully, we continue to get better, because we've only got eight or nine more games left. Hopefully, we come out on top of this in the next couple of weeks. We've got some good baseball coming up, and I'm looking forward to it.”


LISTEN: Garrett Brown post-game comments
LISTEN: Gavin Trevillian post-game comments
LISTEN: Scott Hanson post-game comments